Although your menstrual cycle comes and goes each month, before you clean up by throwing the pad away or flushing, observe your body’s period symptoms. They can tell you whether your monthly visitor is normal or abnormal.
Menstrual cramps, medically called dysmenorrhea, happen when the uterine lining peels off and sheds during your period. The pain is usually because of excess production of the hormone prostaglandin, which is responsible for inflammation and pain. Around 50% of the women in the world go through this extreme and unbearable pain in their lower abdomen.
However, chronic pain could signal a deeper issue, such as endometriosis. Women who suffer from this have tissue growing outside the uterus near the pelvic area, so that the tissue sheds during their periods; the blood has nowhere to go and hence causes discomfort and cramping. Around 7 to 10% of the people have endometriosis.
The color of a woman’s period blood says a lot about her hormonal health. Although it may not be a pleasant sight to see, this might be essential. The hormone changes over your 4-week cycle changes the color and thickness of your period blood. Here is the basic color and texture gradient for your period blood:
- Mashed blueberry: Thick and chunky, this is caused by increased estrogen levels, creating a thicker uterine lining and heavier flow.
- Strawberry jam: A light pink form, this shows that your estrogen levels are lesser. This can cause low sex drive, hair loss, vaginal dryness, and easy tiredness. Women with such period flow usually get periods late and at odd times every month.
- Cranberry juice: A light but bright red color and not too chunky but with a decent texture is normal, and women who have this usually get their period exactly on time. But they are also more prone to premenstrual syndrome (PMS), such as mood swings. PMS is considered normal, but it is not as it is a primary symptom of early-on hormonal imbalance.
The average period cycle should release less than a cup of blood, although it could seem like a perennial flood. Women can have heavy periods, but too much of it can be a sign of anemia, risk of infertility, uterine or cervical tumors, and even endometriosis, which only hits them in their 30s. At a younger age, losing too much blood during your period could signal menorrhagia, wherein excessive blood loss coupled with cramps makes it impossible to function or even carry out daily activities.
Those with lighter period blood flows may not be eating right or enough, experiencing hormonal changes, or stressing out too much. On a more serious note, it could also indicate polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and even autoimmune disorders.
How often you get your periods is also a telltale sign of how healthy you are. You need to have your periods every 21 to 35 days and it should last for a healthy duration of two days to a week, with the only condition for short period cycles being more frequent cycles.
Periods longer than a week can be caused by drinking too much, which messes with your estrogen and progesterone levels, pregnancy, weight loss, and more. An occasional irregular cycle is alright but not a regular one, so consult your gynecologist about this.
There may be times when you think you’re done with your period, but you have bleeding like it’s the first day. This is normal if you’re on birth control pills. But if you’re not on the pills, it may be best to consult a gynecologist, as this may be a precursor to cancer, infections, or imbalance.
A period that does not occur is usually a fear of pregnancy for sexually active women, but it could actually be common in those who take birth control or hormonal balancing pills, those who are obese or too skinny, and those who over-exercise. Another cause is secondary amenorrhea, which happens to only 4% of women. Here, the woman stops getting her periods for 6 months or more. It could also possibly be chronic symptoms of weakening ovaries, brain tumor, or thyroid issues.
So remember all of you lovely ladies out there. Keep tabs on Lady Flo and how she works as a health indicator.