Here are the facts:
1. All menstrual cycles are not 28 days long
A woman’s menstrual cycle can range anywhere from 21 days to 35 days — depending on her age and other various health factors. The average menstrual cycle is 28 days, but a shorter or longer cycle doesn’t necessarily mean your health is at risk.
A menstrual cycle that strays from the average 28 days is considered normal and healthy, as long as it’s regular and fairly predictable. Make an appointment with a gynecologist at WCF if your periods become irregular so you can get screened for other problems.
2. The timing of menstruation depends on ovulation
Your menstrual period normally occurs 14 days after ovulation, The first part of the cycle can vary from 7 to 20 days which can result in shorter or longer cycles, depending on when you ovulate. For example, if you ovulate on day 14, you might have your period on day 28. On the other hand, if you ovulate on day 10, your period should arrive on day 24.
3. Periods can be irregular due to stress or illness
Any stress on the body — whether it’s mental stress or physical stress caused by illness — can upset the natural balance of other hormones and result in a late or early period. Stressful life events can cause an irregular period, as can thyroid problems, illnesses such as the flu, certain medications, and switching birth control. Contact a gynecologist at WCF if you’re worried about the irregularity of your period.
4. Fluctuations in weight can affect your period
Since your body needs a certain amount of fat to store and release estrogen and other hormones, your period can become irregular if you lose or gain weight during your cycle. In many cases, women with a high percentage of body fat are more likely to experience irregular menstrual cycles due to excess estrogen production.
5. Abnormal bleeding can indicate more serious health issues
Abnormal bleeding and spotting during your cycle can signal other underlying health issues, such as cancer, polyps, infection or menopause. Contact your gynecologist immediately if you’ve been experiencing abnormal bleeding so you can be screened for other health problems.
6. Irregular periods can often be treated with birth control pills or other hormonal treatments
Birth control pills can often help regulate your menstrual cycle so you can experience lighter, more regular periods. Talk to your gynecologist about your options for birth control pills that will help you manage your monthly periods more efficiently based on your unique health situation.
Tracking your menstrual period and knowing how to identify certain symptoms can help you stay fertile, healthy, and happy for years to come. Having a better understanding of your body can also help you prevent and treat female health problems. Together, you and your gynecologist can work on addressing issues so you can benefit from a longer, fuller life.
Contact WCF to schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified gynecologists or to receive additional resources on the menstrual cycle.