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A Major Vital Sign for Women: The Menstrual Cycle

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Temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, and pain are signs of acute health or acute distress and considered “vital signs” for all humans.  For women, the correlation between lifelong health and the menstrual cycle has recently become more studied and understood.  In 2006, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) published a report called, “Menstruation in Girls and Adolescents: Using the Menstrual Cycle as a Vital Sign.”  This position was reaffirmed in 2015. (Romm, 2021)

Changes in a women’s menstrual cycle can be the first indication of something changing in a woman’s health. Women will likely menstruate ~400 times over the course of their lifetime.  The menstrual cycle allows for a regular and reliable indicatior of a woman’s health and body. For a woman, becoming familiar with the rhythms of the menstrual cycle can help check in and better understand this key vital sign. Observing the patterns of the menstrual cycle can help a woman better understand their patterns of sleep, mood, eating, weight, mental focus, sex drive, hair, skin, and digestion.

There is a caveat here, however.  A person can’t make connections unless they recognize the patterns of their own menstrual cycle and compares these patterns to what is considered “normal” or expected.

To do this, it’s important to understand what a normal menstrual cycle should look like.  In the next few blog posts, we are going to consider the menstrual cycle and its normal rhythms and patterns.  Even if you are not cycling anymore, menstrual cycle history remains an important vital sign throughout a woman’s lifetime.  The next few posts will outline the normal menstrual cycle in order to help you determine where your menstrual cycle falls.  Discovering where you fall may also give you insight into your overall health and provide a guide to better solutions for other health questions that you may have.

Coming soon….Period 101 and the basics of menstrual cycle, a woman’s sixth vital sign.

Reference

Romm, A. (2020). Hormone Intelligence. (1st Edition). HarperOne.

Written by Stephanie Muntzer, MPT, PYT, RYT200, CPI, SFMA, FMSc

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