What Your Period Is Telling You About Your Health – Part 1

We all know that periods happen once a month, last 7 days, rinse and repeat the next month, right? Not for all women.

The “normal” range for bleeding is from 3 to 7 days. A normal cycle length can be anywhere from 21 days to 35 days. Blood should be bright red, with no spotting before or after.

Changes in your period’s color, flow and regularity can be an indication of a problem. It can be an indication of hormone imbalances, stress, Endometriosis, Polycystic Overian Syndrome and even cancer.

Here are some things your period may be telling you.

Hormonal Imbalance

According to the Mayo Clinic, it is normal for a woman to experience occasional irregularities in her cycle. It can be caused by stress, weight loss, pregnancy or drinking too much alcohol. However, if your cycles are consistently irregular, it could signal that you have a hormonal imbalance. Mention it to your GP and see what they suggest.

About a third of women complain to their gynecologist about heavy flow. “Heavy” means changing your tampon or pad every hour or so or during the night, having periods that last for more than a week, or passing blood clots bigger than a quarter. Problems with your reproductive organs or hormones, an infection like pelvic inflammatory disease, some blood disorders, blood-thinning medicines (including aspirin), or a copper IUD are possible causes.

Thyroid Problems

This is linked, in part, to a hormone imbalance. The thyroid gland secretes hormones that are necessary for a whole host of bodily functions – including growth, body temperature and muscle strength – so when there is a problem with the thyroid a person’s entire body can be affected.

An overactive thyroid gland can cause your period to stop completely. Irregular periods can be a result of your thyroid not working properly. This can lead to fatigue, weight gain, depression, high cholesterol, and other symptoms.

Weight Problems

If you’re overweight or underweight then the balance of your hormones may be affected, which can lead to irregular periods or lack of periods, called amenorrhea.

Overweight women are more at risk of reproductive problems such as polycystic ovary syndrome, which is caused by a raised level of male hormones in the body.

In some cases, particularly where stringent dieting or overtraining is a factor in weight loss, it can cause periods to stop altogether. Your period is therefore a good indicator of whether you are at a healthy weight.

Extreme stress

Stress can also impact the regularity of your period. When you are stressed it doesn’t just affect your mental state, but also your physical health.

Adrenalin, commonly known as the fight or flight hormone, is released during times of extreme stress. Adrenalin can severely interrupt the body’s hormonal equilibrium, to the extent where it can actually cause delayed ovulation or prevent ovulation altogether.

If your periods stop, it could mean you need to take some time out to de-stress as it could be affecting your general health. Check out these posts for ideas on how to de-stress:

https://www.facebook.com/2SouthernMamasCreations/

Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a painful condition in which the lining of the womb behaves abnormally and begins to grow outside the womb in places like the fallopian tubes.

The body cannot rid itself of the tissue properly, which can cause extreme cramps and problems with menstruation. It can even stop periods all together.

The exact cause of the condition isn’t known, but it’s thought it could be hereditary or due to environmental factors – even the presence of certain toxins in the environment could play a role, according to the NHS.

It can cause painful or heavy periods, pain during and following sex, bleeding between periods and can lead to difficulty conceiving. So it is vital you know what is normal for your period and, if you notice any change, to discuss it with your GP.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

If you have missed 3 periods in a row, see your doctor. Other symptoms you have will help them figure out what’s going on. For example, extra hair growth, acne, and trouble controlling your weight, too, suggest polycystic ovary syndrome.

Cancer or pre-cancerous cells

Heavy periods can also be a sign of something much more serious, even deadly, such as uterine cancer.

According to the NHS, heavy bleeding or bleeding between periods is an indication you may have the cancer. Bleeding may start as light bleeding accompanied by a watery discharge, which may get heavier over time, it explains.

Most women diagnosed with womb cancer have been through menopause, so any vaginal bleeding will be unusual. The risk of womb cancer increases with age, as well as a hormone imbalance and being overweight. Women who have more oestrogen in their system are more likely to develop the disease.


Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, midwife, certified nutritionist or naturopath. I am not qualified to give medical advice and the following should not be viewed as such. You should always discuss medical questions and concerns with your doctor!

Read Part Two here!

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2 thoughts on “What Your Period Is Telling You About Your Health – Part 1

  1. Pingback: What Is The Preconception Checklist? – Whole Body Fertility

  2. Pingback: What Your Period Is Telling You About Your Health – Part 2 – Whole Body Fertility

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