Most of us learned about our monthly period from our mothers, or physical education teachers. However you got the message, it all happened when we were in middle school, for some of us in high school. As if we weren’t going through enough teenage drama, Mother Nature gave us something else to talk about at slumber parties.
We all know that our monthly period is the result of an unfertilized egg that is released from the lining of the uterus, causing menstrual flow. When it comes to your menstrual cycle, it pays to take notice of cycle dates and missed periods. There are many factors that can lead to irregular flow, earliness, lateness, out of the ordinary cramping, and extreme moodiness. If your cycle is off, don’t brush it aside, take note and take action. Here are eight things your period reveals about your health.
If you are spotting in the middle of your menstrual cycle, do not wait. Call your gynecologist for a checkup. Tell the receptionist that you are spotting. Random spotting may be a mild condition, but let your doctor rule out any signs of uterine or cervical polyps, infections, or fibroids. Early prevention is important.
2. Skipped Periods
A skipped period may be alert for concern. Of course, as women, we immediately think of pregnancy. However, it could be a sign of stress, anxiety, or other hormone fluctuation. Extreme exercise, sleep deprivation, illicit drug use, and illness are just some of the causes of missed periods. They hypothalamus, the brain’s regulatory center, sends signals to the ovaries. If you are ill or out-of-sorts, the hypothalamus delays ovulation. Usually, once you are back to health, your periods are back on track.
Severe cramps can be debilitating. Back and pelvic pain may keep you in bed for days. Unbearable cramps are not normal. If an over-the-counter medication can’t help you through the pain, contact your gynecologist immediately. Extreme cramping may be the result of endometriosis, which is treatable if caught in the early stages. Do not hesitate to seek professional care.
4. Irregular Periods
If you are overweight, pre-diabetic, or have other known health conditions, you may encounter irregular periods. This is common if you are insulin resistant, which has a profound effect on ovary function. During irregular periods, you may not suffer from breast tenderness or bloating. To end irregular periods, consult with your gynecologist. They may refer you to a dietician for weight loss. You would be amazed how diet can affect hormone and menstrual health.
5. I’m Early
There is nothing worse than a period that starts two days early, at an inconvenient time, and there is not a tampon in sight. Ugh. Most of us experience a period every 28 days, however, this is not a rule. Ovulating several days early is okay and considered normal.
6. I’m Late
If you are trying to get pregnant and your period is late, then congratulations, you may be pregnant! However, just because you are a few days late, doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to have a baby! Stress, anxiety, illness, and other factors may be a reason you are late. If you have a normal period, and you feel well, then it is your body’s way of readjusting and dealing with whatever it is – stress, etc.
It’s a terrible feeling to have to lie on the bed to fasten jeans. Bloating. It can be annoying. Bloating usually occurs when we PMS at the beginning of our cycle. It’s caused by fluid retention. Estrogen and other hormones send a signal to the body to get ready for the purge. About the third day, when your cycle begins, excess water, waste and blood are flushed out. Even though it’s uncomfortable for a few days, bloating can be healthy, and a natural part of the menstrual cycle. Excessive bloating may be a sign of health issues. Consult with your doctor if bloating lasts more than a few days.
It’s important to know your grandmother’s and mother’s menstrual cycle history. Your gynecologist will want to document your family history. This will enable your gynecologist to be on the lookout for genetic connections between you, your relatives, and your periods.
Take the “Is My Period Normal?” quiz at WebMD. At the end of the day, not all women cycle the same. Eating right, exercising, limiting alcohol, knowing your family history, scheduling a pap-smear, and doing a self-breast exam every month is important to good health. It is important to find a gynecologist who you feel comfortable with and visit regularly. Keep track of your cycle and any unusual concerns. Anytime you have a medical procedure, they always ask the date of your last period. And, of course, there is an app for that. Stay healthy.