If you have ovaries, then you probably understand the frustrations of getting your period. It’s not fun. In fact, it’s so not-fun that the phrase “period problems” is used in everyday conversation, and is even a hashtag. Despite the collective groan of period-havers across the globe when they know their time of the month is coming, everyone’s experience with their period is different. Some cause no pain while others are bedridden due to cramps. Some last only a couple of days while others endure it for over a week. Just like everyone’s body is unique, so too are their periods.
**This article contains affiliate links, and we will be compensated for any purchase made by clicking on them. Thank you for supporting Miss Millennia Magazine!**
That being said, people with periods maintain certain expectations for what our experiences should be like. If we bleed for two weeks, for example, that might cause alarm. Likewise, if we don’t have our period for three months in a row (and we don’t take a form of birth control that would cause this), we might be worried. How do we know what’s considered “normal” and what should raise concerns?
First off, I think it’s so important for people of all genders to have basic knowledge of the menstrual cycle. Even if you don’t go through it yourself, I bet you know someone who does. It is especially important if you are in a romantic and/or sexual relationship with someone who has periods because understanding the way their body works is necessary.
If you have periods and think maybe something is not quite right with yours, it’s crucial that you talk to your doctor. Either your general physician or your gynecologist is a good person to talk to. They are the experts! At the same time, doing some research on your own so you can be informed when you do speak to a doctor is also important.
Want to get in the know? Read on!
The Basics of a Period
Periods are part of a larger cycle called menstruation. Menstruation typically operates on a 25-30 day cycle, though it can be as short as 21 days or longer than 35. For most people, their period lasts for three to seven of those days. The color of the fluid that comes out will vary from red to brown, depending on the day, and the consistency will also change over time. Even if your period isn’t necessarily regular, there are often signs that it is coming. These signs include cramping, bloating, tender breasts, and breakouts—symptoms commonly referred to as PMS. (And no, going through PMS does not necessarily make you crabby, though it can and that’s ok!)
Many people’s bodies don’t have a menstrual cycle that is completely regular. Sometimes, your period will come in exactly 28 days, then the next time is 23 days later, and then it takes 30 days. Maybe, you might even skip a month. If this is characteristic of your body’s schedule, you are definitely not alone. Skipping a month here or there, or being early or late by up to a week, is not necessarily cause for alarm. If you don’t have your period for several months in a row, there are many possible causes, not all of which mean trouble. If you’re under a lot of stress, have significantly lost or gained weight, changed your diet, or have started exercising more, then it’s reasonable for you to skip a period or two. However, to make sure it’s not a symptom of a larger issue, definitely consult with your doctor.
Ok, so it’s Day 6 and you’re still bleeding heavily. When is this torture going to end? Some people bleed more during their period than others, and that’s completely normal. However, if you’re bleeding large blood clots or your flow is very heavy for over a week, you might be bleeding too much. If you think this is the case, it’s worth checking with your doctor to make sure everything is ok.
Breakthrough bleeding is when you take a form of birth control that regulates your period, yet you still have a full period at an improper time. Spotting here and there is normal—whether or not you take birth control—but breakthrough bleeding is much more significant. If you are on the pill and do not take it regularly, this is likely the cause for the irregularity. Another reason could be that the specific type of pill you take doesn’t work well with your body. If this is the case, switching to another one will solve the problem, though you might have to try a few until you find one that works. A quick visit to the gynecologist will solve this problem for you. However, breakthrough bleeding may also be a symptom of pregnancy or an infection. You definitely want to see your doctor if this might be the case.
If it seems like you get the stomach flu every time your period comes—don’t worry, you’re not alone. It sucks for sure, but some people’s bodies deal with their period differently than others. Feeling ill doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong. If your PMS symptoms are interfering with your life, though, your doctor can help you find ways to lessen the pain.
Lowered Brain Function
Studies have shown that people who experience significant period pain have reduced cognitive ability—including lower attention spans and less of an ability to multitask—during their time of the month. If you become frequently forgetful, unable to concentrate, or all-around spacey when you’re on your period, it’s not your fault!
Just like during pregnancy, some people experience cravings when on their period. It’s because your hormone levels are rapidly changing and your body has different needs! You might be hungry all the time, and you could not be hungry at all. Don’t feel bad if you feel like you want to eat the entire Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory during your period. Treat yourself…you’re going through a lot right now.
As I discussed earlier, what is “normal” for a period will vary from person to person. However, these are general things to look out for that might help you determine if you need to consult with a medical professional about your period. In some cases, irregularities may be symptoms of a health problem with which you will want to deal. Often, though, it’s just a result of the uniqueness of your own body!
What are your period problems like? Let’s get a conversation going about this taboo subject.