Our menstrual cycle can actually tell us more about our health than we may think. From its color to how heavy it is, to when it arrives and its regularity, what all can your menstrual cycle tell you about your health? Learn more from this blog post!
What Your Menstrual Cycle Can Tell You About Your Health: Colour
The colour of your blood during your period can change, and this potential change in colour can tell you a lot about other aspects of your health. If your period blood is bright red, this is a sign of a healthy period as you are releasing fresh blood at a steady rate.
If your period blood appears dark red or brown, this may be a sign of a number of things. Darker blood is older blood, so it may appear towards the end of menstruation. Brown or dark red blood can also be a sign of pregnancy, which is referred to as implantation bleeding. It is thought that when the fertilised egg implants into the lining of the uterus, some old dark red or brown blood is released.
Period blood may also appear black. Period blood darkens in colour due to having extra time to oxidise in the womb. This oxidation process darkens the colour of the blood. Black blood could be a sign of blood that has just taken longer to leave from the uterus, but it may also indicate other health concerns, such as a vaginal blockage. The other symptoms that are also likely to be experienced from a vaginal blockage are fever, difficulty urinating and itching or swelling around the vagina.
You may also experience period blood that is pink. Period blood appears pink when the blood has mixed with cervical fluid or when there are low levels of estrogen in the body (possibly caused by hormonal birth control). Other causes of pink blood during your period can be blood from a small tear in your vagina caused during sex, weight loss, anemia or an unhealthy diet.
Orange and grey are also potential colours of period blood that can tell you something about your health. Period blood that is orange can indicate blood that has mixed with cervical fluid. Orange blood can signify an infection, such as bacterial vaginosis, so it can be important to look out for other symptoms of an infection, such as grey or white discharge, a burning sensation when peeing, itchiness or pain during sex.
Grey period blood can also be indicative of bacterial vaginosis. If you do believe that you may have a vaginal infection, it is important to visit your doctor in order to receive the right treatment.
What Your Menstrual Cycle Can Tell You About Your Health: Missed or irregular periods
It is possible that you do not have a very regular cycle or that you may miss some periods, and this can be referred to as amenorrhea. This can mean a number of things about your overall health. Your period may stop or be missed out some months because of pregnancy, stress, extreme or sudden weight loss, being overweight, menopause, PCOS, hormonal birth control or exercising too much.
When you restrict the amount of calories you eat very strictly, this can prevent the production of the necessary hormones required or ovulation to occur. On the other hand, being overweight can lead your body to producing excess estrogen, which may also cause irregularity and potentially stop your periods. Excess exercise can place stress upon your body, something that can affect the occurrence of your periods. In PCOS, often an egg is unable to be released, meaning ovulation is incapable of occuring.
Periods that are quite irregular, when your menstrual cycle length continues to change, if you are pregnant at an early stage, starting puberty or menopause, using hormonal contraceptives, have lost or gained weight or if you have PCOS or thyroid issues. If your thyroid does not produce enough hormones, as in hyperthyroidism, this can have impacts on your period and menstrual cycle.
What Your Menstrual Cycle Can Tell You About Your Health: Amount of blood
The amount of blood that each person loses throughout their period varies, but the average amount of blood that is lost is equivalent to 6-8 teaspoons. Heavy bleeding during your period is often characterised by losing more than 80ml of blood or having a period that lasts longer than 7 days. You can notice if you are experiencing heavy blood loss during your period if you are having to change menstrual products every 1-2 hours, if you bleed through clothes, if you pass blood clots or if you need to use two menstrual products at once (e.g a tampon and a sanitary pad).
There are a number of potential causes of heavy periods, and these include endometriosis, fibroids, adenomyosis, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), PCOS, diabetes or hypothyroidism. If you do experience heavy periods, it is essential that you visit your doctor to talk to them about it. Heavy periods have the potential to be a sign for a more serious condition and it is very important to know what is causing them.
What Your Menstrual Cycle Can Tell You About Your Health: Bleeding between periods
Some women may experience bleeding or spotting in between their periods. This can happen during puberty and menopause as the body and the levels of hormones in it are fluctuating and changing. Some birth control methods can also cause bleeding between periods, including the pill, IUD, vaginal ring, patch or implant.
Bleeding between periods can also be an early sign of pregnancy, as it could be implantation bleeding, as previously discussed. Some sexually transmitted diseases can also cause bleeding between periods, such as chlamydia, along with polyps in the cervix or vagina. Polyps are small growths that may need to be removed. PCOS, endometriosis and adenomyosis can all also lead to bleeding between periods, so it can be important to look out for other symptoms of these conditions.