Many of us think periods only act as a monthly reminder that you aren’t pregnant. In reality, it can do so much more.
Your cycle is completely unique to you and can vary from month to month depending on a whole spectrum of factors such as diet, sleep, stress, dehydration etc. Your period is actually your physiological crystal ball which you can look into to see if anything else is going in your body. So without further ado, here are a few things your period might be trying to tell you.
What to look for: Extremely Heavy Flow
Anaemia occurs when the body doesn’t have enough red blood cells to carry oxygen to the organs. Heavy periods can onset anaemia due to a large amount of blood the uterus expels. This phenomenon is known as menorrhagia and can also cause iron-deficiency anaemia which is what many of us think when we hear the word 'anaemia'. This particular type of anaemia happens when the body uses up the haemoglobin stores and has to use more iron to transport oxygen around the body. Certain symptoms to look out for would be very heavy period flow, extreme fatigue, difficulty concentrating and rapid heartbeat. Taking supplements, eating iron-rich food in combination with vitamin C can help with anaemia. However, if you think you might be anemic then it’s best to speak with your doctor.
What to look for: Breakthrough bleeding and irregular cycles
There are a few signs of uterine cancer that might crop up during your period. These might include, irregular periods, breakthrough bleeds as well experiencing pain during sex. It has to be said that these signs can be related to less serious conditions, so do bear that in mind when reaching out to a doctor.
What to look for: Missing a cycle
There are many reasons why you might skip a cycle that aren't to do with pregnancy. Pituitary tumours can be one of them. The pituitary gland is located in the brain and is responsible for much of the body’s hormone control, including managing the ovaries. Milky breast discharge and regular headaches are also indicators that you might have a pituitary tumour. Pituitary tumours can be benign or cancerous but they are most likely found in older people, so don’t panic!
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
What to look for: Irregular periods & excess body hair
PCOS is subsequent of a hormonal imbalance and sometimes high levels of insulin. Infrequent periods can be down to the fact that ovaries affected by PCOS have difficulty sustaining and releasing eggs, which can hinder a woman’s chances of getting pregnant. PCOS can be treated by eating a balanced diet, by taking medication for excessive hair growth and irregular periods. In some cases, treatment involving heat or lasers can be used to destroy the tissue in the ovaries producing androgens i.e hormones such as testosterone.
What to look for: Noticeable change in your flow.
The thyroid has a key part to play in hormone production especially for metabolic rate and protein synthesis. Therefore, a noticeable change in your menstrual flow may be an indicator of some sort of thyroid issues. An underactive thyroid, meaning your thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormones, can cause muscle aches, weight gain, dry skin and hair. Whilst an overactive thyroid can cause weight loss, mood swings and sensitivity to heat. Treatments can include continual treatment with medications, surgery or even radioiodine therapy depending on the type of condition you may have.
What to look for: Extreme period pain & excessive bleeding
Endometriosis is a painful pelvic condition which occurs when the lining of the uterus grows in other areas i.e the fallopian tubes, ovaries and the tissues surrounding the pelvis. A common symptom of endometriosis is debilitating menstrual cramps or dysmenorrhea, as well as very heavy periods. Other indicators of the condition can include nausea, bloating, constipation and fatigue particularly when on your period. Most women do experience these issues when menstruating normally, however, if it is happening more often than not and is affecting your daily routine, it’s recommended you get in touch with your GP.
As we’ve said, many of these symptoms are not serious on their own, so don’t worry if you do experience some of them. It goes without saying though, the best person to speak with about your health concerns will always be your doctor. We have also put together a period fact-check guide, so you can become an expert on menstruation.
Please do give us a little comment if you found this article useful and share with your amigas to make sure your girl gang is all clued up on menstrual health.
Meet the Author
Jess is our Content & Community executive who writes about, well ...everything! She loves talking about period positivity and body positivity and, let's face it, loves a good debate. When she isn't talking about all things BeYou, she has probably got her nose in a book, cuddling her Jack Russell Terrier, Buster 🧚♀🐶📖