Your monthly period can say a lot about you. Remember that everyone has a different monthly cycle, so what is normal for your friend or sister, may not be the same for you.
Menstruation is your body’s way of telling you that your reproductive system is working properly. But if it signals a problem — heavy periods, no periods, painful periods, spotting, you need to visit your doctor to find out if something is wrong. The average menstrual cycle is anything between four to eight days. Somewomen even have slight spotting after eight days. So while some periods are short, others are long, some are heavy while others are light.
The first few years may be askew but by the time you leave your teens, your cycle will more or less settle down. You would also be familiar with your monthly routine — the duration, flow and frequency. The average menstrual cycle is 28 days long, but differs from woman to woman. And instead of worrying about how long or frequent your really period, you need to focus on whether anything different is happening.
Has your period suddenly slowed down or stopped altogether? Your age has a lot to do with this. If you’re in your 20’s or 30’s, a missing period could signify pregnancy. No matter how much protection you use, find out if you’ve conceived. Women in their 40s or 50s could go throughperimenopause, the time approaching menopause. When your ovaries decrease their production of estrogen, your periods start coming less frequently. Periods are also known to get shorter or lighter during perimenopause. When you don’t get your periods for over 12 months in a row, you have reached menopause. The average age is usally around 51.
Another common possible cause of missed periods is when you exercise excessively. It is a known fact that several female athletes work out so hard that they stop getting their periods. Called exercise-induced amenorrhea, this is also seen among ballet dancers and runners and happens when intense exercise affects the production and regulation of reproductive hormones involved in the menstrual cycle.
Experts also say that women who suffer from eating disorders like anorexia nervosa or bulimia also have irregular periods. When your body does not get enough nourishment and you restrict the number of calories you eat, it restrains the release of hormones that your body needs for ovulation.
Other causes of missed periods include thyroid, pituitary gland disorders, breastfeeding, obesity, oal contraceptives (although most birth control pills just make the periods lighter, rather than stopping them entirely), stress, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, hormone imbalances, Ovarian failure or disease of the uterus.
When you bleed excessively, your body loses iron, which is needed to produce hemoglobin — the molecule that helps your red blood cells transport oxygen throughout the body. Without enough iron, your red blood cell count will drop, leading to anemia. Signs of anemia include shortness of breath, unusually pale skin and fatigue. Anemia can be cured by taking irion supplements. There could be several reasons why your flow has increased. It could be due to:
– Noncancerous growths in the uterine lining
– A miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy
– A change in your birth control pills
If you’re bleeding between periods, go to your doctor immediately. Causes can range from having an irritated sore in the vaginal area or forgetting to take your birth control pill to something as serious as an ectopic pregnancy or cancer.
While some women have no discomfort during their period, for some women it can be a very painful time every month. Cramps are the most common problem as the uterus contracts to shed its lining. While the discomfort usually subsides in a day or two, the pain in some women is so intense that they that stops them from going about their daily activities. Painful periods are called dysmenorrhea and can be accompanied by diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, headache or discomfort in the lower back.
While sometimes the pain is from the period itself, it also can be caused by endometriosis or fibroids.
Visit your doctor if:
Your periods have become irregular and you bleed excessively for over seven days.
They come more often than every 21 days, or less often than every 35 days, for several cycles.
Your periods have suddenly become very painful and you bleed between periods.