What is a period?
A period, also known as menstruation, is the shedding of the lining of the uterus that occurs approximately once a month in females of reproductive age. It is a normal and natural process that usually starts when a girl reaches puberty, typically around age 12, but can vary from as young as 8 to as old as 16.
What happens during a period?
During a period, the uterus sheds its lining, which is made up of blood and tissue. This blood and tissue exit the body through the vagina. A typical period lasts between three to seven days, but this can vary from person to person.
How often do periods occur?
Periods usually occur once a month, although the length of the menstrual cycle can vary from person to person. The menstrual cycle is counted from the first day of one period to the first day of the next period. A typical menstrual cycle lasts between 21 to 35 days, with an average of 28 days.
Some common symptoms of periods include:
These symptoms are caused by hormonal changes in the body and are usually temporary.
- Cramping in the lower abdomen
- Breast tenderness
- Mood swings
How can periods be managed?
There are several ways to manage periods, including:
- Using pads or tampons to absorb the menstrual blood
- Using menstrual cups, which are reusable and environmentally friendly
- Taking over-the-counter pain relievers for cramps and other symptoms
- Applying heat to the lower abdomen to relieve cramps
- Exercising regularly, can help relieve menstrual symptoms
Reasons for excessive pain in periods:
Excessive period pain, also known as dysmenorrhea, is a common problem among menstruating individuals. There are two types of dysmenorrhea: primary dysmenorrhea, which occurs without any underlying medical condition, and secondary dysmenorrhea, which is caused by a medical condition such as endometriosis or uterine fibroids.
The following are some tips that may help alleviate excessive period pain:
- Pain-relieving medication: Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or naproxen can help reduce pain and inflammation.
- Heat therapy: Applying heat to the lower abdomen using a heating pad or warm water bottle can help ease menstrual cramps.
- Exercise: Regular exercise, especially cardiovascular exercise, can help reduce menstrual pain.
- Relaxation techniques: Practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga can help reduce stress and alleviate menstrual pain.
- Dietary changes: Eating a healthy diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and low in salt, sugar, and caffeine can help reduce menstrual pain.
Variation in the periods timing:
The timing of a woman’s menstrual cycle can vary from month to month and can be influenced by a variety of factors. Generally speaking, a menstrual cycle is considered to be regular if it occurs every 21 to 35 days and lasts for two to seven days. If a woman experiences a menstrual cycle that is shorter or longer than this range, it may be considered an early or delayed period.
An early period, also known as an early menstrual cycle, occurs when a woman’s menstrual bleeding starts earlier than expected. This can be caused by a variety of factors, including stress, changes in weight, hormonal imbalances, or certain medical conditions.
A delayed period, also known as a late menstrual cycle, occurs when a woman’s menstrual bleeding starts later than expected. This can also be caused by all the same factors that are mentioned above, including stress, changes in weight, hormonal imbalances, pregnancy, or certain medical conditions.
Here are 13 possible causes of delayed periods
- Pregnancy: One of the most common reasons for a delayed period is pregnancy. If you’ve had unprotected sex or are trying to conceive, a missed period may indicate that you are pregnant.
- Stress: High levels of stress can affect the hormones responsible for regulating your menstrual cycle, causing it to be delayed or even missed.
- Weight changes: Significant weight gain or loss can also affect your menstrual cycle. Being overweight or underweight can cause hormonal imbalances that can lead to delayed periods.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): PCOS is a condition in which the ovaries produce too much androgen, which can cause irregular periods or even missed periods.
- Menopause: As women age, their hormone levels change and they eventually stop menstruating altogether. This is known as menopause.
- Perimenopause: Perimenopause is the transitional period leading up to menopause, during which the menstrual cycle may become irregular.
- Excessive exercise: Engaging in high-intensity exercise or sports can also affect hormone levels and delay periods.
- Eating disorders: Eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia, can cause significant weight loss and hormonal imbalances that can affect the menstrual cycle.
- Chronic illness: Chronic illnesses such as diabetes, autoimmune disorders, or thyroid disease can cause hormonal imbalances and delayed periods.
- Travel: Traveling across time zones or experiencing significant changes in your daily routine can disrupt your circadian rhythms and affect hormone levels, leading to delayed periods.
- Polyps: Uterine polyps are growths in the uterus that can cause heavy bleeding or irregular periods.
- Breastfeeding: Breastfeeding can suppress ovulation and delay the return of menstruation in some women.
- Ovarian cancer: In rare cases, delayed periods may be a symptom of ovarian cancer. If you experience other symptoms such as bloating, abdominal pain, or nausea, it’s important to see a doctor.
There are several reasons why a person may experience early periods, including:
Thyroid disorders: Overactive or underactive thyroid can affect the menstrual cycle and cause early periods.
- Birth control: Certain types of hormonal birth control can cause early periods, especially when starting or stopping use.
- Uterine fibroids: These noncancerous growths in the uterus can cause heavy bleeding and sometimes early periods.
- Endometriosis: A condition where the tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside of it, causing pain and sometimes early periods.
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID): An infection in the reproductive organs can cause early periods and other menstrual irregularities.
- Cervical or uterine cancer: These are rare causes of early periods, but should be ruled out if the condition persists.
- Perimenopause: As women approach menopause, they may experience irregular periods, including early periods.
- Intrauterine devices (IUDs): Some women may experience early periods with certain types of IUDs.
It is important to note that occasional changes in menstrual cycle length are normal and may not be a cause for concern. However, if a woman experiences persistent irregularities in her menstrual cycle or if she is concerned about her period, she should speak with her healthcare provider for evaluation and treatment if necessary.