It seems that even with all the knowledge in the world, our periods are still one big mystery. Some months, you’re cramping hard and can’t get out of bed while other times, you’re noticing a heavier menstrual flow than others; all, while thinking to yourself, “Is this normal?”
Yes, it is. Especially if you’ve just recently had your period, your body is still getting used to the changes. “When people first start their periods, it’s totally normal to be irregular for the first couple of years, says Raegan McDonald-Moseley, MD, chief medical officer at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. While most people settle into their menstrual cycles quickly, McDonald-Moseley says that there can be times that where your period is a bit off.
If you’re wondering if something is up with your period, here are a few explanations.
Your birth control
“Hormonal birth control methods usually cause periods to be lighter and in some circumstance with the IUD, it can go away all together,” says Dr. McDonald-Moseley. If it’s happening occasionally it’s totally normal because this type of birth control causes your hormones to fluctuate, but if happening frequently and you’re not on medication, it’s something you should talk to your doctor, she suggests.
Things that affect your brain—like stress, a major life change, or even travel anxiety—can be the culprit of a delayed period. “Your entire menstrual cycle is related to your hormones and brain. If there’s something that’s changing in that realm, that can also affect your period,” explains Dr. McDonald-Moseley.
Changes in weight
Women who are overweight or obese are at risk for PCOS, a complex medical problem that can cause an irregular menstrual cycle according to Dr. McDonald-Moseley. And, on the other hand, women who are very thin can experience an irregularity of hormones, which can also cause missing periods.
Certain medications/health conditions
“Underlying medication and health conditions can affect cause your period’s menstrual flow and cause irregularity,” says Dr. McDonald-Moseley. If you’re starting a new medication and have noticed that your periods a little off, she recommends talking to your medical provider.
As for health conditions, if you notice that your cycle is longer than average (which is 25 days) or you’re bleeding more than seven days and it’s so heavy that it’s interfering if your daily activities, then you should also talk to a provider, she suggests. It could be signs of an underlying condition.
“One of the most common reasons for skipping a period is pregnancy,” says Dr. McDonald-Moseley. “If you have had unprotected intercourse, take a pregnancy test and talk to your medical provider.”
If you need to see a medical provider, you can find the nearest Planned Parenthood in your area here.
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