Your Period Can Be A Moving Target: Menstrual Changes Over Time
Okay, so we have periods. Whether you refer to it as a visit from Aunt Flow, that time of the month, or one of the less polite euphemismsit happens. The medical term for a period is menses, which is the Latin word for months. Many of us assume that a period happens monthly, but through our lifetime there is more variation than many would think.
The menstrual cycle is the process of making a thick, spongy, blood-filled lining within the uterus that is ripe for the implantation of a fertilized egg. When a woman becomes pregnant, the placenta attaches to this spongy lining and the baby grows inside the uterus. If an egg is not fertilized, this lining is shed as a period. This process starts in puberty and repeats itself until most of a womans healthy eggs have been given a chance to be fertilized.
Drink Apple Cider Vinegar Daily
Research from 2013 showed that drinking 0.53 oz of apple cider vinegar daily may restore ovulatory menstruation in women with PCOS. More research is needed to validate these results, as this study involved only seven participants.
Apple cider has a bitter taste, which may be difficult for some people to consume. If you want to try taking it but have a hard time with the flavor, you can try diluting it with water and adding a tablespoon of honey.
Why Do Periods Change Dates: When Should You See Your Doctor About Changes To Your Menstrual Cycle
You know your body best. Missing a period, having two periods in a month, or experiencing a cycle jump from 24 to 31 days can be scary and isolating if it hasnt happened before. But help is at hand.
Dr. Welsh says its always better to speak to your doctor or health care professional, when you first start to worry: Anything that feels abnormal or worrying to you is a reason to see your doctor. Just be open with them. They see this day in and day out.
All you need to say is Im concerned my cycle isnt regular or Im bleeding a lot heavier or My period is inconsistent. Lay out what youre particularly concerned about. They should be able to investigate things if they arent right.
You can keep tabs on the changes in your cycle by using a period tracker like Flo to log any changes in mood or symptoms. Similarly, try to note down any changes in the color, texture, and amount of your menstrual blood.
If you have one period that’s a bit early or late, or you skip one period, and everything reverts back to normal, do not worry, says Dr. Minkin. But if cycles stay erratic, do check in with your health care provider. They will talk with you and may order some blood tests. Your doctor may also conduct an ultrasound scan or suggest a urine pregnancy test.
Its also useful to share any lifestyle or general health changes with your doctor at your appointment.
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The 40s: Playing The Guessing Game
You probably wont escape your 40s without losing a few pairs of undies because, similar to the years after your first period, perimenopause is all about random and unpredictable bleeding.
For most of her adult life, Amanda Baker knew what to expect from her period. She bled for four days, the first being the heaviest and the following three gradually tapering off. Then at 45 she missed a period.
Ive been a wreck ever since, spotting nearly every day, or a random unpredictable gush of blood, just near-constant bleeding of some kind. This week heavy bleeding and large, palm-sized clots, says Baker.
Although the 40s are a common time for perimenopause, Minkin cautions that irregular periods alone arent enough to say for sure that someone is experiencing it.
If you suspect youre perimenopausal, be on the lookout for other corresponding signs and symptoms, such as:
- moodiness and emotional ups and downs
- thinning hair and dry skin
- loss of breast fullness
You dont necessarily have to call up your doctor when you start perimenopause, but they can prescribe medication if needed. The usual go-tos exercising more often than not, eating right, sleeping well can do a lot to improve symptoms.
Why Does Variation Happen
Anything that affects the balance of your reproductive hormones can affectyour cycleâs length as well as your symptoms and the length and heaviness of your period.
Menstrual cycles are caused by the rhythmic ups and downs of your reproductive hormones, and the physical changes those ups and downs cause. They trigger the growth of follicles in the ovaries, the release of an egg and the growth and shedding of the uterine lining . The reproductive hormones include estrogen, progesterone, follicle stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, testosterone and others.
In a way, hormones in the menstrual cycle act a bit like they are in a relayrace. As the cycle moves forward, one hormone often triggers the next, whichthen triggers the next, moving the cycle through its different phases. Having more or less of certain hormones will create changes in the pace and timing of the cycle. If one hormone doesnât âpass the baton,â things can slow down or stop altogether. Itâs a delicate and important balance .
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What Causes Abnormal Menstruation
There are many causes of abnormal periods, ranging from stress to more serious underlying medical conditions:
Other causes of abnormal menstruation include:
- Uterine cancer or cervical cancer.
- Medications, such as steroids or anticoagulant drugs .
- Medical conditions, such as bleeding disorders, an under- or overactive thyroid gland, or pituitary disorders that affect hormonal balance.
- Complications associated with pregnancy, including miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy .
Do Irregular Periods Mean Infertility
Having an irregular menstrual cycle does not necessarily mean you cant get pregnant. Depending on the underlying cause of the irregularity, there may or may not be an effect on your ability to get pregnant.
If youre trying to get pregnant, talk with your doctor. They can help pinpoint any health issues and recommend the next steps.
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What If My Period Is Irregular
Its really common to have irregular menstrual cycles at some point in your life especially when you first start getting your period.
Examples of irregular periods include:
Missing a period altogether
Heavier or lighter bleeding than usual
Bleeding longer than usual
Unpredictable timing of periods from month to month
Keeping track of your periods and symptoms on a menstrual cycle calendar or in an app is a good way to learn whats normal for your body, and help you know if anything changes.
Some peoples periods are irregular a lot. It may just be the way their body naturally works, or it can be caused by a health problem. If many of your periods are irregular, unpredictable, or abnormal, talk with a doctor to make sure everythings okay. They can also help you find a hormonal birth control method that may help make your period lighter and/or more regular.
Why Do Periods Change Dates: How Is Your Mental Health Linked To Your Menstrual Cycle
Hormonal contraception and pregnancy arent the only reasons why your hormones may fluctuate during your menstrual cycle. Your mental health can also have a direct impact on how long your menstrual cycle is and even the symptoms you experience.
The most important concept for people to realize is that the control of periods resides in the brain, not in the ovaries, explains Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, OB-GYN and Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Yale.
The ovaries get their marching orders from the hypothalamus at the base of the brain. It sends messages to the pituitary gland, which, in turn, stimulates the ovaries to make estrogen and progesterone. This is a tricky balance.
The stress hormone, cortisol, will increase in your body if you feel stressed over a sustained period of time. Your body releases this hormone as part of the fight-or-flight response our instinctive, physiological response to threats both real and perceived .
Research has linked higher cortisol levels to irregular bleeding or periods stopping altogether. This happens because all the extra cortisol throws off your hypothalamus , which prevents the release of reproductive hormones. Missing a period is a common side effect.
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How To Track Your Period
Call it your monthly visitor or chums or any other euphemism, female menstruation is here to stay! Once you know how to calculate the menstrual cycle, it can greatly minimize the anxiety of your next period.
Tracking periods is a good way to see if there is a pattern to your menstrual cycle. Moreover, tracking can help you gauge other symptoms including PMS, acne, headache, a high sex drive, and more. In case you are planning to conceive, tracking your period can help you identify your ovulation day.
Technology offers a bunch of apps that are super easy to use, and help not only to track your period dates, but a lot of these apps help track your symptoms too. You could take a look at our period tracker that will help you monitor your menstrual cycle. The more closely you know your body, the more easily you can identify subtle changes and problems. Letâs get a little up and close with the menstrual cycle calculation. No great mathematical skills required we assure.
When Symptoms May Mean Something More
The 20s are often the decade when many people become more aware that their symptoms may be a sign of a menstrual condition, like:
Your 30s are likely a mixed bag when it comes to your period. Early in the decade, youre probably still regularly ovulating and can expect your period to be much like it was in your 20s.
For some, this may mean pain. And a lot of it.
stabbing, debilitating cramps in my lower back and ovaries, tender breasts and insomnia in the days leading up, and intense waves of emotion, causing me to cry at the drop of a hat, says Marisa Formosa, 31.
But despite the physical discomfort brought on by her period, Formosa feels emotionally connected to her monthly cycle.
Over the years, Ive developed a fierce pride and defensiveness of my period, she says. Its almost sacred to me. I believe it ties me to the earth, to the seasons, to the circular patterns and cycles of life and death. So the cultural disgust and shaming of periods, which I have internalized as much as the next person, pisses me off.
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Working Out Your Due Date
Once you have confirmed that you are pregnant, you will want to find out when your baby is due to arrive. The average pregnancy is calculated at 282 days from the first day of your last menstrual period.
However babies rarely keep to an exact timetable, so a full-term pregnancy can be anywhere between 37 and 42 weeks. A baby born before 37 weeks is considered to be premature and anything past 42 weeks is considered overdue.
Due dates are usually calculated on your last period instead of the date of conception because of a number of reasons.
- Although the average woman ovulates approximately 2 weeks after her period, the exact time is not always known.
- Once an egg has been released, it can remain fertile for up to 24 hours.
- Sperm can last for up to 5 days after intercourse to fertilise an egg.
If your periods are irregular or you are unsure of the date, an ultrasound will help determine the development of the embryo and your due date. Ultrasound scans can be done at any stage of pregnancy after the first 6 weeks. The best timing for an ultrasound to determine the due date is between 8 weeks and 13 weeks 6 days.
You can use the Pregnancy, Birth and Baby due date calculator to work out when your baby is due.
Some doctors will refer to your due date as âexpected date of confinementâ or EDC.
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How Are Irregular Periods Managed
Because there are so many possible causes of irregular periods, any treatment will depend on the likely cause. Your doctor can arrange tests to find out what is affecting your periods.
Sometimes your doctor will recommend a lifestyle change, such as weight loss for women who are overweight, or exercising less if excessive exercise is the cause.
Your doctor might discuss a prescription for the oral contraceptive pill or the contraceptive vaginal ring to make your periods regular. These medicines contain two hormones, which take over your bodys natural hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, and control your menstrual cycles.
Even if you dont mind having an irregular cycle, it may be unhealthy to go for long stretches of time without a period. Speak with your doctor to check if this is a problem for you.
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Take Hormonal Birth Control
Hormonal birth control is often prescribed to help with irregular periods.
There are different types of products, but they all work to keep hormone levels more steady. They may also regulate cycles and provide relief from symptoms, like severe cramping or acne. Some products may eliminate your period altogether.
A doctor can help you to select a hormonal contraceptive that may work best for you. You may experience some side effects, including nausea, weight gain, or headaches.
Be sure to tell your doctor if you smoke. It may increase your risk of blood clots.
Are There Any Natural Methods That Work To Delay Your Period
You may have heard somewhere on the internet that there are a few natural or homemade methods that can help you delay your periodbut our experts agree that this is not the way to go.
“If you search online, you’ll likely read about natural ways to delay your period, like consuming gram lentils, gelatin, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, or even green bean water a few days to a week before your period,” said Dr. Horton. “However, none of these methods are scientifically proven to work because drinking or eating special foods does not alter the hormones involved in regulating your period. They can, however, affect your teeth, gums, mouth, throat, and gastrointestinal tract if taken in excessive amounts.”
Other suspected remedies like ibuprofen or naproxen sodium can help to relieve cramps and reduce your flow if you’ve already started your period, but they won’t prevent it altogether.
Ultimately, if you’re looking to temporarily pause your period, you are able to do so in a safe and effective way. But, as always, if you have any concerns or are unsure about which method to go for, talk to your healthcare provider to determine the best path for your individual situation.
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When Should We Seek Advice
Id recommend seeing a fertility specialist if youre under 35 and have been trying to conceive for over 12 months, or after six months if youre over 35 years of age.Other symptoms that may indicate a fertility issue are significant pain or discomfort throughout your cycle, heavy periods or an irregular cycle. If these symptoms are present, then it may be worthwhile seeing a fertility specialist sooner as there may be an underlying medical issue which could cause an avoidable delay in conceiving.
To calculate when youre likely to be ovulating, try our Ovulation Calculator:
Does Taking Antibiotics Affect Your Period
Changing our routines or medications can lead to changes in your menstrual cycle. While many people may think that taking antibiotics would delay your period, there is no research to indicate that it would. Studies that have observed the common question: Can antibiotics delay your period? have found that they typically have no impact on the start of menstruation.
Some women think that antibiotics and their period start time are linked because infections can make you feel more stressed, change your sleep cycle, and disrupt your routines. Stress levels are indeed a factor in delayed periods, which is why it might seem that taking antibiotics is the reason that your period is late when its actually due to the stress that youre experiencing.
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When Should I See My Doctor
Its important to see your doctor if you experience any of the following:
- your period comes infrequently
- you have not had a period for 6 months or more
- your period has come early or late for more than 3 months in a row
- you experience bleeding between periods
- you have not gotten your period by the time you are 16 to 17 years old
Reducing Exercise If Youre An Athlete
Missing periods may occur due to low energy availability, especially in adolescent athletes. This can occur if you arent taking in enough energy relative to the energy youre burning through exercise.
People who limit their food intake and engage in extreme exercise, with or without the use of laxatives, may develop amenorrhoea. This may be considered a warning sign for other health issues associated with low energy, such as poor bone accrual and low bone mineral density, both of which are associated with decreased bone strength.
If you may have amenorrhoea due to low energy availability, it is best to reduce the amount of exercise you do on a daily basis. You may want to see a doctor or trainer to determine how much exercise is safe for you to perform.
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