Period and Menstrual Cycle Health
As a woman, your menstrual health is something you should always be concerned about. Yes! It’s super annoying and inconvenient but it is something we as women should be concerned about if it is abnormal! When you are between 11 and 14 (on average), you will get your first period, which then starts your regular menstrual cycles. If you are currently an older woman, you are well aware of how this works, but might not be aware that what you are experiencing is abnormal. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), nearly 14 percent of women have irregular periods between their first period and menopause.
What Is A Normal Menstrual Cycle?
The term “normal” is a little subjective when it comes to your menstrual cycle because it can vary between different women. What you are really looking for is your own patterns, and whether they change suddenly or not. It’s always a good idea to make a note of how your period is from time to time so you’ll be more aware if something has gone askew. Many people like to say a menstrual cycle is 28 days long, but it is not unusual for it to be considerably longer or shorter. I myself have a 21 day cycle and have had this 21 day cycle since I could remember. In fact even after having a baby I only took 2 months for it to comeback with vengeance and a 21-day cycle! What we really need to keep in mind as something that is important is to look at changes that happen suddenly, such as missing a period completely or having several months where the length keeps changing dramatically. In a “normal” menstrual cycle, you should ovulate around the same time each month and have the same type of flow.
Healthy Menstrual Period
When you get your period, there are more things to look at to ensure it is a healthy menstrual period. I know it seems so exciting to dive right in your bloody mess to investigate; but it’s very important. Typically, you will bleed for 4-6 days, but again, this can vary. We all have had that friend who gets their period for what seems like forever, many women are completely unaware that they may have a condition that causes those long heavy periods! Anyways, if you have a month where the flow is shorter or less overall than usual, you might want to tell your gynecologist. Some common issues that might warrant a visit to your doctor include a lighter or heavier flow, blood that is much darker than it typically is, blood clots, and excessive pain when you did not experience it before.
Don’t Ignore PMS Symptoms
PMS, or premenstrual syndrome, can also vary based on the woman. Some women start experiencing PMS symptoms around the time they get their period, while others have it worse on random months. This latter is what you are looking for. If you have always gotten a little moody and headaches before your period, it is nothing to be concerned about. However, if you are suddenly getting severe cramps, extreme mood
swings, aches and pains, and migraine headaches when you never did before, that is something to tell your doctor. These PMS symptoms might be from hormonal changes, stress, and other factors that need to be addressed. PMS changes are also signs that your menstrual cycle may change as well. It is also known that PMS symptoms get worse with age, yup you heard it right! One would assume as we age our periods would get a tad bit easier but in fact, it does not!
Quick Period Facts:
- Endometriosis affects 1 in 10 women between the ages 15 and 49. Learn More about endometriosis Here!
- Nearly 5% of women experience Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a health problem that is similar to premenstrual syndrome (PMS) but is more serious. PMDD causes severe irritability, depression, or anxiety in the week or two before your period starts. Learn More at WomensHealthGov.
- 70% of white women and 80% of black women will develop uterine fibroids in their lifetime.
- Over 10 Million American women have menorrhagia, which is menstrual periods with abnormally heavy or prolonged bleeding.
Weird Reasons Why Your Period Can Be Late:
- Low Body Weight
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
- Use of Birth Control
- Chronic Disorders
- Early Peri-menopause
- Thyroid Issues
Remember if you ever have any of the following symptoms please call your gynecologist ASAP: unusually heavy bleeding, fever, severe pain, nausea or vomiting, bleeding longer that 7 days or bleeding post menopausal.
Also a great resource for all of women’s health is our very own United State Government Website https://www.womenshealth.gov/ This website is great! I check it against my own personal knowledge as a nurse and as a women! Check it out.
Top Three Menstruation Books and Where to Get Them: