Normal menstruation occurs as the endometrium sloughs from the uterus, with consequent bleeding. The flow lasts for three to five days; in some cases as short as one day, or as long as eight days. Menstruation marks the start of the new menstrual and ovarian cycle.
Menstrual blood is mostly arterial; around a quarter is said to be venous. It also tends to be high in fibrolytic substances; thus menstrual blood tends not to clot. Clots in menstrual blood are associated with particularly heavy bleeding.
Normal blood loss is around 30 mls per cycle; the normal range is up to 80 mls per cycle. This value is chosen since it appears to be the maximum amount that a woman on a normal diet can lose per cycle without becoming iron deficient. In practice, actual blood loss is rarely measured.
Last reviewed 01/2018