Your period comes and goes every month, but periods are considered one of the most taboo topics to talk about. Well, it’s time to talk about it openly.
Most often, women think that their period only indicates whether or not they are pregnant. Cramps, bloating, heavy flow and backaches are often thought of as just part of the cycle that simply must be endured.
But in reality, your menstrual cycle can reveal a plethora of information about your health.
From regularity to flow and from frequency to duration, paying attention to your period can save you from major health issues.
Here are the some health problems that your period may indicate.
1. Excessive or Prolonged Bleeding may Indicate Fibroids
A fibroid is a benign, non-cancerous growth that occurs in or around the uterus, which can affect your menstrual cycle and lead to excessive or prolonged bleeding.
In a 2012 study published in BMC Women’s Health, researchers surveyed 21,479 women across eight countries. Among the findings, women with a diagnosis of uterine fibroids reported the following bleeding symptoms significantly more often than women without a fibroid diagnosis: heavy bleedings (59.8% vs. 37.4%), prolonged bleedings (37.3% vs. 15.6%) and bleeding between periods (33.3% vs. 13.5%).
Another study published in 2014 in the International Journal of Women’s Health concludes that heavy and prolonged bleeding is the most commonly reported symptom among women suffering from fibroids.
If suddenly you are having longer cycles than normal, see your doctor to find out the reason behind it.
2. Irregular Periods may Indicate PCOS
Though you may be happy to have irregular periods, it is definitely not a good sign for your body.
An irregular menstrual cycle along with other symptoms, such as obesity, excessive facial and body hair, hair loss and acne, is a strong indication that you may be suffering from polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
In PCOS, cysts form in the ovaries due to the activity of excess testosterone in the body. These cysts affect the entire menstruation process, leading to missed periods.
A 2014 study published in Human Reproduction confirms that irregular periods during the teenage years are positively associated with PCOS and infertility in the future.
Whether you have missed your period for the first time or it has become a common trend, take it seriously and consult your doctor.
3. Lighter Flow may Indicate Excess Stress
A lighter blood flow is common in women who are entering perimenopause or menopause, or those who use hormonal birth control methods.
However, if you are suddenly experiencing a lighter flow compared to previous periods, it could either be due to hormonal changes in the body or excess stress.
You have a light period if you bleed for fewer than two days. Your bleeding is considered very light, such as spotting, if you miss one or more regular-flow periods or you experience more frequent light periods than the typical 21- to 35-day cycle.
Once your stress level is under control, your periods should return to normal.
If you’re feeling stressed, ask for help. Try exercising most days, practice meditation and seek talk therapy to reduce your stress level.
4. Irregular Menstrual Cycles may Indicate Diabetes
Unusually long, extremely irregular or infrequent menstrual cycles may be linked to insulin resistance and the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
In fact, overweight women who have irregular menstrual cycles are probably suffering from Type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance also affects the ovaries, which in turn affects the menstrual cycle.
A 2001 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association followed over 100,000 women who had reported usual menstrual cycle patterns from 18 to 22 years of age. After thorough analysis across the 10-year study period, it was found that women with long or highly irregular menstrual cycles (40 days or more) were more than twice as likely to develop Type 2 diabetes as compared to women with usual cycles.
Also, women with very short cycles (21 days or less) were 1.5 times more likely to develop the condition as compared to those with normal cycles.
Another study published in 2003 in Diabetes Care reports that Type 1 diabetes is an independent risk factor for menstrual disturbances in young adults. However, further studies are needed to determine whether addressing menstrual disturbances improves the quality of life and health of these women.