Find out what your period can tell you about your health
Your period is a great way to learn a little more about your body and make sure that everything is functioning normally. Paying attention to the way you bleed is almost like a horoscope - it can give you some major insights about your health and, on occasion, your future. Read on below to learn a bit more about some of the ways that your period can reveal things about you and your body. The first step in understanding your period better is identifying what a “normal” period looks like and feels like for you. Some guiding questions for this process might include:
How many tampons or pads do you go through every day?
When you change them, are they totally soaked or just lightly soiled?
How many days does your period last?
Getting familiar with your body will help you identify when something unusual is going on. Once you understand what normal is, here are a couple of clues that you can look out for with your period:
1. Your flow gets heavy
If you are soaking through tampons or pads faster than you’re used to it might be a result of your birth control. It could also be a sign, though, that something is up. Having a copper IUD inserted will pretty much guarantee a heavier and longer flow than usual. Most gynecologists require a follow up appointment about six weeks after the IUD is put in, so make sure that you let them know about any unusual flow or other problems then. No new birth control? Your unusually heavy period may be a sign of a polyp or a fibroid, two types of benign growths that commonly occur in the uterine lining. Most polyps will go away on their own and don’t require any treatment. Fibroids, though, may require some medication to shrink down. Either way, its best to report any heavy bleeding to your doctor just to make sure that nothing is going on.
2. You see a clot
Clots are surprisingly totally normal - if you have mostly thin, red blood one day and then dark, clotty blood the next, it’s nothing to be concerned about. These clots are most common on your heaviest flow days because the body recognizes the bleeding and sends anticoagulants to try and help you out. So long as the clots are smaller than a quarter, you should be totally fine. If the clots are larger and paired with terrible cramps, it might be wise to have your doctor examine you for polyps and fibroids. Let your gyno know so that he or she can double check to make sure.
3. Your menstrual blood is watery or grayish
At the beginning of your cycle the blood tends to be bright red in color. As your period comes to end, the color may appear more brown or black. The longer blood takes to exit the body, the darker red it will be. This is because the blood is exposed to oxygen, which changes the color. It is generally nothing to worry about. If your blood is watery it may be mixed with vaginal discharge, which is also nothing to be concerned about.
4. You are spotting
Spotting, or light bleeding, at any time of the month other than your regular period can feel pretty scary. If it happens occasionally, it’s probably nothing to worry about. If, however, you are experiencing heavy spotting or the spotting happens month after month, let your ob-gyn know. Hormonal birth control may be a cause of the bleeding. Other potential causes include fibroids, infection, or even, in some cases, uterine or cervical cancer. If spotting is a regular occurance it is definitely worth speaking with a doctor.