The Menstrual Cycle Part 1: What is a Healthy Cycle and Why Ayurveda Thinks it is SO Important!

The Menstrual Cycle Part 1: What is a Healthy Cycle and Why Ayurveda Thinks it is SO Important!

Did you realize that your period is not just indicative of the health of your reproductive tissues but is one of the biggest windows to the overall health of your body? That’s right! According to Ayurveda, the menstrual flow itself is a byproduct of the first, most basic tissue layer in the body, the plasma (or rasa dhatu). As such, if there are imbalances in the menstrual flow, you are sure to find similar imbalances throughout the body since the plasma is the foundation from which all other tissue layers are produced.

By slowing down and taking (even just a brief) pause each month to tune into your body and the nature of your menstrual cycle, you can learn tons about your body and what is going on with it. Because the plasma is the first tissue layer (takes about five days to make after you ingest food), it is also the most dynamic and the most responsive tissue layer.

You can learn how your body adapted (or didn’t adapt) to what you ate, stressors you encountered, travel and other changes in your schedule, seasonal changes, and so much more during the previous month. For instance, if you note just a tinge more cramping then normal and, after some reflection, you realize you had a series of trips during the previous month, you can learn that your body did not do so well with the travel. With that insight, you may conclude that you should either prevent that type of a schedule in the future or you should do more to ground vata and recover. It can be a really fun and insightful!

So what exactly is a healthy cycle?

According to the classical texts of Ayurveda, a healthy cycle has these qualities:

  • Occurs once a month
  • Is bright red without clots or mucus
  • Is free of pain
  • Is free of bloating
  • Is free of irritability, depression, or mood-swings
  • Does not stain clothing (a sign of ama)
  • Has no odor that is foul
  • Has an amount that is on average about four anjalees (one anjalee is the amount of liquid that fits into one of your cupped hand)
  • Has a free flow without spotting before the full flow, and with little spotting afterwards
Yes, it is pretty ideal and I am sure many of you are wondering who actually has this type of a cycle. It does exist, I promise!

And I also assure you that by working on your health with Ayurveda, you too can achieve it. It just takes some dedication because you are striving for health at the most basic tissue layer, which requires a strong digestive fire (agni), balanced doshas, and being free of toxins (ama).

In the rest of this four part series, you will learn about the three types of imbalances of the menstrual cycle. To make the most of this series, do these steps:

  • Start a menstrual calendar. Note when you start, if you have any symptoms before, during, and after (even as subtle as slight constipation or hardening of stool before the cycle), what the flow is like (any days of spotting, when you start a full flow, how many pads you use or would have gone through), and when it ends.
  • Slow down during your menstrual cycle, even if it means taking a twenty-minute break at the end of your day where you do nothing but just breathe. Become highly aware of your body and its subtle changes. See if you can correlate changes with anything that changed or was highly impactful during the month before.
  • Identify what type of imbalance your cycle is showing through the descriptions provided in the rest of this series. If you find you have more than one imbalance, note that and note which type of cycle is most predominant. If you are still confused, see what else is going on in your body and what doshic imbalance it points towards (take our free Ayurvedic Profile™ quiz for this!).
  • Follow a diet and lifestyle that pacifies that dosha and follow the other types of recommendations given (including herbs that can be super helpful!).
  • Stick with it! It can take time to kindle agni, get rid of ama, and balance doshas. Do not give up. You can always consult with an Ayurvedic practitioner for more help and advice.
  • For more information, read the Guide to a Healthy Menstrual Cycle, which has all of this information and more!