What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Menopause
Estrogen is used by many parts of a womanâs body. As levels of estrogen decrease, you could have various symptoms. Many women experience mild symptoms that can be treated by lifestyle changes such as avoiding caffeine or carrying a portable fan. Some women donât require any treatment at all, but for others, symptoms can be more severe. The severity of symptoms varies greatly around the world and by race and ethnicity.
Here are the most common changes you might notice at midlife. Some may be part of aging rather than directly related to menopause.
Change in your period. This might be what you notice first. Your periods may no longer be regular. They may be shorter or last longer. You might bleed more or less than usual. These are all normal changes, but to make sure there isnât a problem, see your doctor if:
- Your periods happen very close together.
- You have heavy bleeding.
- Your periods last more than a week.
- Your periods resume after no bleeding for more than a year.
Bladder control. A loss of bladder control is called incontinence. You may have a sudden urge to urinate, or urine may leak during exercise, sneezing, or laughing. The first step in treating incontinence is to see a doctor. Bladder infections also can occur in midlife.
How Do I Test My Cervical Mucus
Watching the changes in the amount and consistency of your cervical mucus can help you understand your cycle. Heres how it works: check your secretions before and after urinating by wiping with toilet paper. Alternatively you can insert a clean finger into your vagina to obtain a sample of mucus. Observe the consistency of the mucus, and use this chart to identify where you are in your cycle. Your mucus can be cloudy, white, yellowish, or clear. It can have either a sticky or stretchy consistency. Use your thumb and forefinger to see if the mucus stretches.
|No noticeable mucus||Not fertile|
You are most fertile on the days when you have abundant, stretchy mucus. This is not a foolproof method to prevent pregnancy.
When Does A Girl Usually Get Her First Period
The average age for a girl in the United States to get her first period is 12.6This does not mean that all girls start at the same age.
A girl may start her period anytime between 8 and 15. The first period normally starts about two years after breasts first start to develop and pubic hair begins to grow. The age at which a girls mother started her period can help predict when a girl may start her period.
A girl should see her doctor if:
- She starts her period before age 8.
- She has not had her first period by age 15.
- She has not had her first period within three years of breast growth.
Get more information for girls about getting their period at girlshealth.gov.
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What Does It Mean When Your Period Stops Early
Bleeding for less than 3 days can be normal for some women, particularly if you have always had periods that lasted 2 days. If however, you have had a change from longer periods to shorter bleeds, it can be a sign of a hormonal imbalance. Most commonly this change in period length is contributed to a decline in estrogen – the hormone responsible for building up the lining of our uterus which is shed at menstruation. Lower levels of estrogen mean that your body struggles to build a thick, healthy lining in preparation for the potential implantation of an embryo if you were to fall pregnant that cycle.
More Than A Funny Word
OK, so it’s a funny word . . . but what is puberty, anyway? Puberty is the name for when your body begins to develop and change.
During puberty, your body will grow faster than any other time in your life, except for when you were an infant. Back then, your body was growing rapidly and you were learning new things you’ll be doing these things and much more during puberty. Except this time, you won’t have diapers or a rattle and you’ll have to dress yourself!
It’s good to know about the changes that come along with puberty before they happen, and it’s really important to remember that everybody goes through it. No matter where you live, whether you’re a guy or a girl, or whether you like hip-hop or country music, you will experience the changes that happen during puberty. No two people are exactly alike. But one thing all adults have in common is they made it through puberty.
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You Have Uterine Polyps Or Fibroids
Uterine issues like polyps or fibroidsbenign lesions or tumors that can grow in the uterusare very common and may be related to hormonal issues. Uterine polyps can cause bleeding in between periods, says Dr. Dweck, especially if they are touched, like during sex, and fibroids can cause pain, back pain, abdominal bloating, anemia, pain with intercourse, and spontaneous bleeding because theyre not associated with the menstrual cycle, explains Dr. Richardson.
While fibroids can affect women of any age or race, Black women are about three times more likely to develop them compared to white women, and their symptoms tend to emerge at an earlier age with greater severity. Its unclear why exactly Black women are disproportionately impacted by fibroids, but some studies suggest that greater exposure to racial discrimination or genetics could play a role.
As the Black Womens Health Imperative notes, heavy, painful periods may seem like a fact of life since theyre so commonand many women wait years to seek treatment for fibroidsbut you dont have to needlessly suffer.
What to do about it
Head to your ob-gyn for an ultrasound, a uterine biopsy, or a hysteroscopy . Hormonal medications such as progestins and gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists may lessen symptoms of polyps and shrink uterine fibroids.
Breast Pain And Swelling
Do you experience increased pain in your breast before your period starts? Do you notice your breasts are slightly larger before your period?
Before period, some women may experience breast pain and swelling. This is a sign of period coming soon. Some women may have a lump in their breast that disappears after period starts.
Changes in the breast before your period is due to the effect of hormones. Hormones Estrogen and progesterone, will cause your ducts to enlarge and your glands to swell.
In women with a 28-day menstrual cycle, breast tenderness usually occurs 4 days before period .
What to do?
- Drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen can ease your breast pain
- If your breast pain is persistent, you should talk to your doctor
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Ever have spotting or light bleeding near the time youre supposed to get your period and wondered if that little bit of blood meant the start of a new cycle or it doesnt officially begin until you get a heavier flow? Theres a general rule of thumb that helps you figure it out. Learn more at MyHormonology.com/when-is-the-first-day-of-your-menstrual-cycle.
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Changes In Your Periods
Your periods can change for example, they may last longer or get lighter. This does not necessarily mean there’s a problem, but it does need to be investigated.
You can see your GP, or visit your nearest women’s clinic or contraceptive clinic.
It might be caused by an infection, abnormalities in the neck of the womb or, in rare cases, it could be cancer.
You could be pregnant if you miss a period and you’ve had sex. See your GP if you’ve taken a pregnancy test and the result is negative and you’ve missed 3 consecutive periods.
They will investigate the cause and recommend any necessary treatment.
Read more about stopped or missed periods.
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Stopped Or Missed Periods
There are many reasons why a woman may miss her period, or why periods might stop altogether.
Most women have a period every 28 days or so. It’s common to have a shorter or longer cycle than this .
Some women do not always have a regular menstrual cycle. Their period may be early or late. How long it lasts and how heavy it is may vary each time.
Why Should I Keep Track Of My Menstrual Cycle
If your periods are regular, tracking them will help you know when you ovulate, when you are most likely to get pregnant, and when to expect your next period to start.
If your periods are not regular, tracking them can help you share any problems with your doctor or nurse.
If you have period pain or bleeding that causes you to miss school or work, tracking these period symptoms will help you and your doctor or nurse find treatments that work for you. Severe pain or bleeding that causes you to miss regular activities is not normal and can be treated.
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Reasons For A Missed Period
Pregnancy is by far the most common cause of a missed period, but there are some other medical and lifestyle factors that can affect your menstrual cycle. Extreme weight loss, hormonal irregularities, and menopause are among the most common causes if you’re not pregnant.
You may miss a period for one or two months, or you may experience complete amenorrheathat is, no period for three or more months in a row. This article explores 10 common reasons your period may be delayed.
Verywell / Cindy Chung
What Is Your First Period Like On Birth Control
No matter which birth control pill you are taking, you may experience irregular spotting or bleeding during the first few months of taking the birth control pill. This is more common when you are taking progestin-only pills , compared to combination pills that contain estrogen and progestin.
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Preparing For Your Doctors Appointment
Changes to your menstrual cycle can indicate a health problem, so its always important to discuss abnormal bleeding with your doctor. Your doctor will likely ask you a lot of questions about your symptoms.
- How long are your cycles? Is this normal for you?
- If your shorter cycle isnt normal for you, when did the changes to your bleeding start?
- How long does the bleeding last?
- What color is the blood?
- How heavy is the bleeding? How quickly does it fill a pad?
- Are there clots? If so, how big are they?
- Do you have any other symptoms?
To calculate the length of your cycle, start counting on the first day you bleed. This will be day one. Your cycle will end on the first day that you start bleeding again. Many smartphone apps are available to help you track your cycle.
If you have a history of irregular bleeding, tracking your cycles on an app can help you identify a problem more quickly. It can also make it easier to share your cycle information with your doctor.
A Change In Your Schedule
Changing schedules can throw off your body clock. If you frequently change work shifts from days to nights, or if your schedule is generally all over the place, your period can be fairly unpredictable.
A change in your schedule shouldn’t cause you to completely miss your period, but it can cause your period to start earlier or later than expected. Your cycle can also change by a few days if you experience jet lag.
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Recognizing Premenstrual Dysmorphic Disorder
Up to 8% of women may have a more severe type of PMS thats called premenstrual dysmorphic disorder . The symptoms between PMS and PMDD often overlap, but PMDD is characterized by extreme moodiness, anger, depression, or anxiety.
PMS causes bothersome symptoms, but if you have PMDD, the symptoms may be so severe that they interfere with your relationships and ability to perform your daily responsibilities at home, work, or school.
What Is Toxic Shock Syndrome
Toxic shock syndrome is a rare but sometimes deadly condition caused by bacteria that make toxins or poisons. In 1980, 63 women died from TSS. A certain brand of super absorbency tampons was said to be the cause. These tampons were taken off the market.
Today, most cases of TSS are not caused by using tampons. But, you could be at risk for TSS if you use more absorbent tampons than you need for your bleeding or if you do not change your tampon often enough . Menstrual cups, cervical caps, sponges, or diaphragms may also increase your risk for TSS if they are left in place for too long . Remove sponges within 30 hours and cervical caps within 48 hours.9
If you have any symptoms of TSS, take out the tampon, menstrual cup, sponge, or diaphragm, and call 911 or go to the hospital right away.
Symptoms of TSS include:10
- Sudden high fever
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Why Did I Get My Period Twice In One Month
These are some reasons your period started early or occurred twice in a month:
- You have a short menstrual cycle
- You had very stressful weeks or months
- Youve taken emergency contraception
- You have vaginal infections
- You forgot your last period date
- Your birth control pill was not taken properly
- You just started a birth control pill
- You have polycystic ovaries
How Do I Know When I Will Get My Next Period
Its impossible to predict when your next period will start. Most girls and women go about 28 days from the first day of one period to the first day of the next, but anywhere from 21-35 days is normal. Especially in the first few years of menstruating, your period may be very irregular. If you track your period on a calendar , you will begin to notice a pattern over time. You can use this menstrual diary to keep track of your periods.
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What Is A Normal Menstrual Cycle
The menstrual cycle is a term used to describe the sequence of events that occur within a womans body as it prepares for the possibility of pregnancy each month. A menstrual cycle is considered to begin on the first day of a period. The average cycle is 28 days long however, a cycle can range in length from 21 days to about 35 days.
The steps in the menstrual cycle are triggered by the rise and fall of chemicals in the body called hormones. The pituitary gland in the brain and the ovaries in the female reproductive tract manufacture and release certain hormones at certain times during the menstrual cycle that cause the organs of the reproductive tract to respond in certain ways. The specific events that occur during the menstrual cycle can be described as follows: