Surprisingly, your menstrual cycle can indicate specific underlying health conditions. However, this doesn’t mean that each woman experiences similar symptoms or a similar flow when it comes to their period.
Getting to know your own flow may help you determine your health, your stress levels, whether or not you are pregnant, and so much more. Yet, there is a ton of debate on what a ‘normal’ or ‘average’ flow means.
In this article, we’ll uncover how you can measure your flow (and get to know it!), as well as what an average flow truly means. Let’s take a closer look!
What is an ‘Average’ Flow?
A healthy and happy period lasts about three to eight days, and it usually happens every 21-35 days. Like anything in life, there are differences between individuals which is why there is a range as opposed to a set number of days.
And your menstrual flow is no different!
Often, and assuming you are healthy and have no underlying conditions, a normal menstrual flow is whatever is normal for you. Many women experience very light periods. Meanwhile, many other women always have heavy periods. Defining what is ‘normal’ isn’t exactly a walk in the park.
Yet, we can define the average flow. Technically, an ‘average’ flow refers to the sum of all women’s menstrual flow divided by the number of women. While it’s quite impossible to do this for the entire world’s population, studies and research have drawn conclusions as to the amount of the average menstrual flow.
Surprisingly, the average flow is higher than most women believe. Perhaps we would all love if our flow was light and simple, and if our period only lasted a maximum of three days. Maybe this is why we assume it’s lower than commonly believed.
Many sources claim that the average menstrual loss is between 30-40 ml. In fact, 60 ml is considered a heavy flow, with any menstrual loss over 80 ml serving as a sign that you should visit your doctor.
In reality… the average flow appears to fall between 80 ml to 120 ml, with anything over 120 ml being a cause for concern. For instance, a period over 120 ml may indicate an underlying condition, such as endometriosis or PCOS. If this is you, it may be wise to consult with your doctor to determine if you need iron supplements or if anything else is amiss.
So, why is there this discrepancy?
Most sources that measure menstrual flow are only measuring blood loss. However, in many cases, blood only makes up about 36% of menstrual fluid. In other words, these sources that claim anything over 80 ml is a cause for concern may only be referring to blood loss. Yes, it’s confusing.
Defining Your Flow
40 ml of menstrual blood equals out to about 110 ml or more of menstrual flow. A 30-50 ml blood loss during menstruation is considered ‘average.’ Yet, this, again, will appear around 100 ml of total menstrual loss across the entire duration of your menstrual cycle.
From this and other research, we can conclude that the average flow appears to be around 80-110 ml, with anything below 80 ml considered light and anything above 110 ml considered heavy. Further, anything above 120 ml is considered very heavy.
How to Measure Your Flow
So, how do you know where you fall? In reality, it doesn’t technically matter unless you have a very heavy flow, which as aforementioned could indicate health issues, or you have very disruptive symptoms alongside your period.
Yet, it may matter for planning accordingly. How many pads do you need? How often should you change your menstrual cup?
All in all, the easiest way to measure your flow is via a menstrual cup. Menstrual cups only hold a certain amount of menstrual loss and make it an easy measuring tool. Most cup brands also have measuring lines to help give an accurate measurement when the cup isn’t completely full. At MCA Online, we have various cups and products suited to your flow! Shop now.
If you have any concerns or worries about your menstrual cycle or flow, please consult with your doctor. They know your health situation best and can help determine if there is any cause for concern.