Most of us think of our period as an unpredictable but inevitable part of being a woman that honestly, just gets in the way of our plans. But what if your period could show signs of health changes you might not realise are happening. Your period can act as an indicator that your body is functioning correctly and can in some cases, changes can highlight health concerns.
Betty is a teen brand that aims to break the stigma of periods, empower women through knowledge and help advise with the their Bettybus service. Betty has enlisted an expert to help, Dr. Helen Webberley is a GP for Oxford Online Pharmacy and explains that "regular periods are a positive indicator that your body is working as it should. For the most part we tend to use the monthly arrival as a measure of fertility but an irregular flow can be a sign of much more."
A hormone imbalance
"If you do not have regular periods (every 21-35 days) it could be a sign that hormones are out of balance which can lead to symptoms commonly associated PMT (premenstral tension), including headaches, mood swings, night sweats, fatigue, and weight gain."
Issues with bone health
"The natural balance between estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone ensure healthy bone production. If your periods become irregular, it could be a sign that your bone function is not working at full capacity."
Endometriosis is a disease where the tissue lining the womb is found in other areas of the body. This causes a magnitude of symptoms like extreme pain during and after periods, infertility, excessive bleeding, pain during sex, pain with the bowels, and fatigue. Your periods can be a big indicator of this disease as it is related to the reproductive system. Despite common misconceptions, periods should not be extremely painful, if you find your periods are causing you to take days off due to any of the symptoms above you should consult your doctor. You should keep a period diary to help to GP diagnose any concerns but also so that you are able to manage your symptoms better. Apps like Clue make this easy to do on the go and even gives you tips and advice.
Problems with your thyroid
"Irregular periods can be a result of your thyroid not working properly. This can lead to fatigue, weight gain, depression, high cholesterol, and multiple other symptoms." Thyroid diseases are notoriously difficult to diagnose early on, keeping a diary of your symptoms is the best way to help the doctor diagnose any problems.
Problems with your reproductive system
"If you experience abnormally heavy periods, or menorrhagia (excessively heavy or prolonged bleeding), it can be a sign of a reproductive system issue. Mr Narendra Pisal, consultant gynaecologist at London Gynaecology, explains that "it can be a sign of uterine fibroids, endometriosis, PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), or even forms of some cancers (although this is rare). He says "it is always good idea to get things checked out with your GP or gynecologist if you're unsure. Bleeding during an average period is supposed to be around 8 milliliters (less than half a cup). You can call your period heavy if you're passing lots of clots or having to constantly use double protection, changing protection more frequently than every four hours. If this is happening, it may be possible that you are also anaemic. If the bleeding is heavy as described, you're exhausted and pale, and suffering from headaches, you could have anaemia. This is something that can be managed well with a doctor's advice.
"Adrenalin, commonly known as the fight or flight hormone, is released during times of extreme stress. Adrenalin can severely disrupt the body's homonal equlibrium to the extend where it can actually prevent conception." If you notice a change in your periods or are extremely stressed and are worried about these effects it is always a good idea to seek mental health advice on how you can manage this. Again, doing a diary of your most stressful times and changes in your period can help detect whether this is having an affect on your period or not.
Issues with your weight
If you're either under weight or over weight, your balance of hormones may be affected, which can cause very irregular periods. In some cases. particularly where stringent dieting or overtraining is a factor in weight loss, it can cause period to stop altogether. Your period is therefore a good indicator of whether you are at a healthy weight." If you have any concerns regarding your weight or your period, it is always wise to see your contraceptive nurse or a GP.
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