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Signs of a Healthy Cycle

Signs of a Healthy Cycle

Signs of a Healthy Cycle

Many of us are left wondering whether our menstrual cycles are healthy.

Daye Wave Divider

Illustration by

Sabrina Bezerra, Erin Rommel & Valentin Slavov

Reviewed by

Sarah Montagu (NPs, SRH). Sarah is a highly-qualified sexual and reproductive health nurse with 15+ years of experience.


2nd April 2024

'Is my period normal?'

It's a question that many women and AFAB folks have asked themselves. Considering the limited menstrual education many of us receive in schools, the stigma that discourages us from speaking openly about specific aspects of our cycles, and the lack of research into many aspects of the menstrual cycle, it's no surprise that many of us are left wondering whether our menstrual cycles are healthy. To make matters worse, gynaecological conditions that impact our periods are severely undiagnosed – the average time it takes to get diagnosed with endometriosis in the UK is eight years.

It's time to change this. The more we know about what a healthy menstrual cycle looks and feels like, the better we can spot the signs that something is wrong. Knowledge is power; with more understanding of the natural variations in your menstrual cycle, the better you can take control of your gynaecological health and advocate for yourself at the doctor's office.

So, what exactly are the signs that your menstrual cycle is healthy? Let's explore all the signs of a healthy cycle and discuss some of the red flags to look out for.

A calendar for tracking your period cycle.

Your period is fairly regular

The menstrual cycle covers the time from the first day of your last period to the day before your next period. While the average length of a menstrual cycle is 28 days, you shouldn't worry if yours is slightly shorter or longer than this. According to the NHS, 'regular cycles that are longer or shorter than this, from 23 to 35 days, are normal.'

Periods are considered irregular if the gap between them is less than 21 days or more than 35 days, but irregular periods aren't necessarily a sign of a problem. For example, when you first start having periods during puberty, it's common for them to be irregular. Hormonal birth control, weight changes, stress, and over-exercising can all also contribute to irregular periods.

If you're experiencing irregular bleeding, it's a good idea to consult a doctor – especially if it's accompanied by other symptoms such as tiredness, weight gain, or hair growth on your face. These could indicate a potential underlying condition such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Additionally, if you're trying to get pregnant, an irregular period can make it harder to conceive. It's worth getting checked out. It’s important to note that irregular bleeding could also be caused by a sexually transmitted infection. Symptoms like bleeding after sex, pain during sex, and intermittend abdominal pain could be a signal that you have an STI. You can screen for STIs conveniently using Daye’s Diagnostic Tampon. 


Don't worry: if your cycle is anywhere 23 to 35 days long.

See a doctor: if your cycle is less than 21 days, more than 35 days, your period lasts more than seven days, you're experiencing other symptoms, or you're trying to get pregnant.

Drops of blood with a different color.

Your period blood is red, brown, or black

Healthy period blood can vary in colour from the bright red of a fire engine or stop sign all the way to dark brown or black. Bright red period blood, usually seen right at the start of menstruation, is the freshest, whereas darker reds and browns indicate that the blood has gone through oxidation. This just means that the blood has spent slightly longer in your body and therefore has been exposed to more air. Usually, this darker blood is seen later in your period when the flow is slower, but can also be seen right at the start which might indicate that it's left over from your previous cycle.

Ever experienced pink period blood? This is also common at the start of your period and results from a lighter flow mixing with mucus to create the paler colour.

However, if your period blood starts to look orange or grey, it's time to get checked out. Orange period blood might just indicate that there is cervical mucus in the mix, but it might also be a sign of infection. Similarly, grey period blood could be a sign of an infection such as bacterial vaginosis.


Don't worry: if you see bright red blood, pink blood, dark red blood, brown blood, or black blood.

See a doctor: if your period blood turns grey or orange.

You only bleed during your period

Another sign of a healthy menstrual cycle is that you only ever bleed during your period. Bleeding at any other time during your menstrual cycle can be a cause for concern. Sometimes referred to as spotting or intermenstrual bleeding, this might be caused by a change in contraceptives such as starting new birth control pills. It may also be a result of a pelvic infection, polyps (small growths of cells in the uterus or cervix), or even an early sign of cervical cancer. For this reason, it's always worth speaking to a medical practitioner about spotting.


Don't worry: actually, any time you're experiencing bleeding outside of your regular period you should talk to a health professional – just in case!

See a doctor: if you're bleeding outside of your period; it could be a warning sign of other health conditions.

PMS doesn't interfere with your life

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) includes a range of symptoms that many menstruators will be familiar with, including mood swings, tiredness, bloating, breast tenderness, and irritability. It's estimated that around three in four people who have periods will experience PMS at some point in their lives, so it's super common. Most PMS is manageable with small changes like getting more sleep, taking OTC painkillers, eating healthily, and getting some exercise.

However, a smaller percentage of women and AFAB folks experience premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), which has similar but more intense symptoms. From physical pain to emotional changes such as feeling anxious, depressed, or even suicidal, PMDD can seriously interfere with your life. Fortunately, there are effective ways to manage it, including anti-inflammatory medicines, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), vitamin supplements, and birth control pills.


Don't worry: if you have PMS symptoms that can be managed with painkillers, yoga, and other lifestyle changes.

See a doctor: if PMS/PMDD is causing severe physical or emotional distress.

You can still focus at work or school on your period

While a little bit of cramping and discomfort during your period is completely normal, your period shouldn't be so painful that it disrupts your life.

Period pain occurs when prostaglandins (a chemical in your body) tell your uterus to contract over and over again, helping shed and expel the uterine lining. The contractions compress your blood vessels and reduce the flow of oxygen in the area, causing the pain you feel as cramps. While research into the causes of period pain is still limited, it's thought that when your body creates an excess of prostaglandins this causes stronger cramps and therefore more severe pain.

If you're experiencing period pain so severe it disrupts your life, it's important to talk to a medical professional. The pain could be caused by an underlying condition such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), endometriosis, uterine fibroids, or something else. Finding out more about the cause of your pain means you can find ways to manage it so it no longer affects your life as much.


Don't worry: if you experience mild cramps and pain. This is a normal part of your uterus' contractions.

See a doctor: if you experience severe pain that disrupts your daily life and can't be managed by OTC painkillers like ibuprofen. This could be a sign of a treatable condition like pelvic inflammatory disease or endometriosis.

A clock with tampons instead of arms.

You can change period products every 4-6 hours

A healthy menstrual cycle is about more than just the time you spend bleeding; the changes in your vaginal discharge can also indicate a healthy cycle. Before ovulation (around day 14 of your cycle), you're likely to experience creamy white or cloudy discharge, then around ovulation the discharge will become clearer and stretchy, almost like raw egg white. After this, your discharge may drop off or may feel sticky or dry. If you want to find out more about why your discharge changes so much throughout the month, check out our guide to how your discharge changes throughout your cycle. And don't worry too much if you see brown discharge – even though it might look alarming, it's usually just regular discharge that contains a little leftover blood from a previous period.

While some variation in discharge is normal and healthy throughout your cycle, there are a few types of discharge to look out for as these can signify an infection. Green or grey discharge might indicate trichomoniasis; fishy-smelling discharge may be caused by bacterial vaginosis (BV); lumpy or cottage cheese-like discharge often is caused by thrush or chlamydia. If you're concerned about your discharge, try our at-home STI and vaginal microbiome screening which can help you get answers and treatment from the comfort of your own home.

Don't worry: if your discharge changes from creamy to stretchy throughout your cycle. While brown vaginal discharge might look alarming, it's probably just leftover blood from your last period.

See a doctor: if your vaginal discharge smells fishy or looks grey, green, or like cottage cheese.


When it comes to periods, there's so much variation between people that it can be hard to tell what's normal. There are some symptoms that you should always seek medical advice about, such as bleeding between periods, intense period pain, or unusual discharge. However, it's also important to get to know your own period so you can figure out what's normal for you.

Women's health has long been under researched and underfunded – only 2% of medical research funding goes towards female reproductive health, pregnancy, and childbirth. There's a long way still to go in researching and providing treatment for gynae health problems, which is why we set up the Daye Period Pain Clinic. The clinic provides you with access to period pain specialists and personalised pain relief plans to help you take control of your period. Plus, we help you fast-track diagnosis of gynae health conditions such as endometriosis, adenomyosis, and pelvic inflammatory disease which can often take many years to diagnose.

Ready to transform your period? Get started by requesting your free period pain report today.

Daye tampons are manufactured in accordance with medical device standards, including ISO13485 and GMP. In order for a diagnosis to be confirmed, test results from the Diagnostic Tampon should be considered by a licensed healthcare provider alongside a patient's symptoms and medical history. Like every other diagnostic test, lab results are not sufficient for a diagnosis. Daye offers customers the option to connect with independent CQC-regulated healthcare providers virtually and in-person for a confirmed diagnosis. All prescriptions and treatments provided through the Daye platform are issued by third-party, independent pharmacists, who are also regulated under CQC and GPhC.