Aunt Flo, surfing the crimson wave, on the rag, the red tide, that time of the month, menstruation, PERIOD. Whatever you call it on any given day, if you’re a woman you’ve more than likely been living with your cycle for years now. Love it or hate it, it’s a fact of life that becomes just another part of your daily routine. But have you ever stopped to think about what your periods say about your overall health?
Believe it or not, our periods are a good indicator as to what’s going on with our health in general, in addition to our reproductive health. Color, consistency, frequency and heaviness of flow can all tell us something about our bodies level of homeostasis. Simply by stopping to take notice of the characteristics of our period, we can tell a lot about what’s going on with your body. So let’s break things down a bit and see what might apply to you:
- Light Red/Pink – This could be an indicator that your hormone levels are a bit off and that you may have low estrogen. If your periods have suddenly changed to pink, have a talk with your doctor.
- Dark Brown – This could simply mean that the uterine lining that’s been shed has had more time to oxidize. Some women’s bodies like to hang on to their shed uterine linings longer than others giving them time to turn a brownish color, so in most cases, there’s no need to panic.
- Red with some gray bits – Watch out for this combination of colors because it most likely means that you have a sexually transmitted infection (STI), especially if it’s accompanied by a foul odor. In these cases, it’s best to get tested immediately so that your doctor can prescribe the best course of treatment.
- Bright Red – Congrats! Generally, this means that you’ve got a healthy period. Though everyone is a little bit different, bright red periods usually mean that your body is healthy and balanced.
- Thick and clumpy (clots) – Clots are a common occurrence in most women and can mean a number of things. Most commonly, though, clumps and clots are caused by low progesterone along with high estrogen. This sort of imbalance is common with high sugar diets, so it may be time to stop and evaluate your sugar consumption. For larger clots, however, bigger than the circumference of a bottle cap, for example, you may want to talk with your doctor as you may have a more severe hormone imbalance.
- Thin and Watery – Nutrition is key here. If your periods have a thin, watery consistency, near the point of looking borderline translucent, it means that you’re body isn’t getting the nutrients you need. Talk with your doctor about your diet and exercise habits, so you can work on finding a solution together.
- Regular – While “regular” might mean something slightly different to each individual woman, a “regular” menstrual cycle falls every 21 to 35 days and generally lasts from 2-7 days. There are multiple different smartphone apps on the market that you can use to track your periods and find out what “regular” means for you.
- Irregular – If you experience anything outside of the norm of your usual periods like early or late periods or periods that last for more than 7 days, there could be a number of different factors. Speak with your doctor to determine if the irregularities could be related to stress, anxiety, extreme weight loss, or any drugs or medication you may be taking.
- Late – While the most talked about cause of a late period is pregnancy, that’s not always the case. As mentioned above, late periods can be caused by stress, extreme weight loss, over exercising and certain drug use. However, if you are sexually active, you should take a pregnancy test when you experience a late period, especially if you’re not using some form of birth control.
- Absence – While you may be jumping for joy that you don’t have to deal with your period, an absence of menstruation could indicate a severe health issue, and you should talk to your doctor immediately.
Overall, every woman has a different definition of what “normal” is for her and her body. To ensure that your body is healthy and balanced, work with your doctor to determine what a “regular” period looks like for you. This way when irregularities do arise, they’re easier to spot, and you can address them sooner with your doctor.
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