Anyone with the (mis?)fortune of having menstrual blood gush from their nethers knows that sometimes, periods can be unpredictable. If you’re lucky, you’ll be the sort of person who gets a visit from Satan’s waterfall once a month, right on cue.
But some folk out there don’t cop that kind of regularity. Some folk out there have periods that couldn’t keep to a schedule if they had the White Rabbit from Alice In Wonderland looming over their bewildered uteruses like a frantic alarm clock.
And sometimes that’s normal. Sometimes it’s totally fine for your period to hop, skip and jump over months thanks to hormonal changes. But sometimes it’s not — and we’re here to answer your questions about irregular periods so you know whether your staccato period is off beat.
he even has a lil’ red jacket
1. How long does your cycle have to be before you should be concerned and is it unusual for cycle length to change as you get older?
An average cycle ranges between 24-30 days, but it’s absolutely possible to have longer or shorter period cycles. That being said, if you period is significantly longer or shorter than that time frame, get it checked.
Conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome can cause irregularity, due to an imbalance of the hormones required for normal ovulation, resulting in increased testosterone levels. This can mess with your period, because without ovulation your uterine lining won’t shed and you won’t have a normal period cycle.
As you get older, your hormones will likely shift and change, so a bit of change in your cycle is normal. And, as you approach menopause you’ll experience even more irregularity due to your ovulation starting to wind down (because the hot flushes weren’t enough apparently, so thanks universe, you butthole).
2. Is it dangerous to skip your period for a few months on the pill by not taking sugar tablets and just the pill?
Skipping the sugar packets won’t do you any lasting damage, but it’s not recommended because the sugar pills are there to allow your body time to chug out all the gloop that’s been developing in your uterus. As a result, if you do wind up skipping periods (whether because they’re painful, it’s an inconvenient time or you just, well, don’t want one) for longer than a couple of months you might experience breakthrough bleeding.
If this breakthrough bleeding is just a touch of spotting decorating your undies, you’re fine to proceed (just whack on a panty liner to stand guard). But if the breakthrough bleeding feels like a big ol’ period has whacked you in the fairy, it’s best to take the sugar pills and allow it all to slough its way out of you.
It may feel heavier or last longer because it’s been prolonged, which is normal. Regardless though, check with your doctor before you decide to fuck with your system.
why yes, my period DOES feel like a T-Rex going on a murderous rampage in my uterus
3. Why does my period start, then stop for a day or two, then start again?
My friend, I sympathise with this on a very real level. For approximately 12 years, every month I’d experience a period for two days, have a lil’ break day, and be back bleeding for the following three. And that was just how my body worked for a really long time — it was kind of like being in the eye of the storm for a day.
Periods that stop and start like that generally occur because of hormone levels changing, or the consistency of your flow changing (because remember, it’s not all liquid coming out). Maybe the syrupy viscosity of your uterine lining means you’ve got a cheeky chunk partly blocking the flow for a day as it slimes its way out.
start stop start stop start stop start stop start stop
4. Can anything outside of the pill delay your period?
I think what you’re asking is about how to delay your period on purpose, and unfortunately, unless you’re taking the pill or using an alternative method of hormonal contraception like the bar or an IUD, you can’t really change much. There are old wives tales that say things like apple cider vinegar can help put a stop to it, but there’s no research that supports this.
Having said all that, there are a few things that will affect your period in general. You’ll be unsurprised to hear that it’s all about hormones — lack of sleep can affect your period, and if you’re already in full swing of the sluicing sesh, exercise and a spine-tingling orgasm can conceivably speed up the blood banishment.
out with that blood, begone
5. Does lemon stop your period?
6. I’ve lost a bit of weight and I noticed my periods have been lighter. What gives?
This is actually quite an interesting one. Fat cells help produce oestrogen, so if you’re underweight, your body struggles to produce enough for a normal period, because it requires oestrogen to build up the uterine lining. Conversely, if you’re overweight, your body actually produces more oestrogen which means you get a build up or overly thick uterine lining (thus, heavier periods).
If you’re experiencing a severe change, or you’ve lost a considerable amount of weight rapidly, check in with your doctor to make sure that everything is all good. Otherwise, if it’s been a slow process and you’ve not had any other issues, you should be fine, my lightly bleeding pal.
don’t let it stop you working on yo’ fitness.
The bottom line with all of this is quite simple: if it feels abnormal, go to your doctor. If you think your contraception is making your cycle go all hinky, go to your doctor. If you’re gushing out goop at a rate that’d rival Niagara, GO TO YOUR DOCTOR.
But don’t stress too much if it’s just a bit out of alignment, or if your cycle has changed over the years. Hormones can be fickle and they will change as you age — it’s totally normal.
While you sit there watching your calendar to see when your period is due next, pop in a question or two about our next topic. It’s a big one: endometriosis.
Disclaimer: the questions will not be answered by a physician, but one has been consulted for accuracy. If your period questions were not answered in our first few rounds with the DM Doctor, head over to Ask Gemmah.Image: Broad City