cropped view of white hand holding tampon on pink background with sanitary napkins, paper cut female … [+]
Whether it’s midway through a summer holiday or tough time at work it’s more than likely that at some point you’ve resented your period and felt like it’s come at the worst time. However, your menstrual blood, cramps and symptoms before and after your bleed could tell you a lot about what’s going on with you. What does your period say about your health?
There’s no such thing as a “normal” period. What might be totally standard procedure for your menstrual cycle will be completely out of the norm for someone else. For most people, periods last between three to eight days and the blood flow is heaviest at the start. It may seem like you’re losing a lot of blood but typically you’ll lose about 30 ml to 72 ml which is the equivalent of five to 12 teaspoons. Period tracking apps can be a great way to monitor when you’ll start your period and most women work on a 28-day cycle although this can seriously vary.
One of the most noticeable changes in your period can be blood color. Your menstrual blood can range from bright red, brown to black during one cycle and in most cases, you shouldn’t be alarmed by that. Blood is at its brightest red at the start of your period and is generally the sign of a healthy period. It can turn dark brown or black later in your period as older blood or parts of the uterine wall come away. They’ve oxidized which makes them darker and usually this shouldn’t be a cause for concern. Period blood that looks diluted could be a sign of anemia and pinkish blood could indicate low estrogen levels.
While it’s helpful to get to know what your menstrual blood likes during your period if you start to bleed at other times in the month you may want to speak to your doctor. Hormonal contraception or undiagnosed STDs could cause spotting between your period. Growths in or around your uterus such as fibroids could cause changes. Similarly, if you notice your period has got considerably heavier, it’s lasting longer than a week, or you’re passing blood clots that are bigger than a quarter you should speak to a health professional. There could be a number of reasons why your periods changed such as pelvic inflammatory disease, problems with your reproductive organs or hormones so it’s better to check it out.
Keeping an eye on your menstrual blood is a great way to monitor your health but so is taking account of how you feel before, during and after your period. Some typical symptoms of PMS include bloating, spot-prone skin, mood swings and breast tenderness. Cramping is the bane of most peoples periods and research has found that more than half of menstruating women hurt in their low belly, thighs or back for a day or two every month, just before or as the bleeding starts. However, if your cramps get more severe, last longer than your period or make you feel nauseated it could be a sign of endometriosis or adenomyosis or pelvic inflammatory disease.
There are general guidelines on what is normal for a menstrual bleed but the reality is you know your body and cycle better than anybody else. If you’ve noticed a change in your blood or the way you feel around your period it’s always best to reach out to a professional for help. Your reproductive health is of paramount importance and your period can be a great insight into what else is going on underneath the surface.