Even though a woman gets a bazillion periods in her lifetime (OK hundreds, but it can feel like more), they can still be pretty mysterious. For one, period symptoms are unique to each woman. Secondly, women often shy away from talking publicly about their periods thanks to antiquated cultural and social taboos. Many women know the common things that happen during periods: bloating, cramping, and bleeding. But there are some also less talked about and seemingly, weird things that happen during your period.
I still get surprised by my period mostly because I don't track it that well (I should), but also because my period keeps changing. According to Web MD changes in your periods occur because of hormonal shifts throughout your lifetimes. What was once "normal" last month or a few months ago may not be anymore. Sometimes the changes can be quite jarring, like blood clots and constipation, to name a few. For medical advice on my unusual period symptoms I often turn to the internet and hope the results don't tell my I'm dying.
What comes up from these honest conversations and online searches are the lesser known (and often less talked about) period symptoms that many women experience. Here are seven weird (or less publicized) things that happen during menstruation.
1. You Might Poop More, Or You Might Poop Less
Your pooping habits could oscillate between diarrhea and constipation, or do one or the other. According to Women's Health magazine, in the first few days of your period your body releases prostaglandins, which are hormone like compounds that have many functions including triggering your uterus to contract. This is why you have cramps. The article explained that the prostaglandins sometimes wander outside of the uterus and go over to your bowel, causing contractions (and consequently more poop) over there. If you feel like you're not pooping as much it may be because your body doesn't produce that many prostaglandins.
2. You May Expel Blood Clots
Seeing the clots that sometimes expel from your body during your period can be weird and all together unnerving. Generally speaking, passing clots is pretty normal. According to a different Web MD article, a woman's body typically releases anticoagulants to keep period blood from clotting. If your period is heavy and blood is coming out quickly then your body doesn't have time to thin it out and that's when you see clots.
The same article explained that the clots may vary in color and thickness, but if you feel your clots are excessive or large you should call a doctor as it may be a sign of an underlying condition.
3. You May Feel Uncontrollable Emotional Instability
This type of instability extends well beyond crying over sad dog commercials and being crabby towards your partner. Women who deal with more severe forms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) can become severely depressed or anxious about two weeks before their period according to Everyday Health. Researchers don't know exactly what causes PMS, but the emotional roller coaster many women experience is thought to be connected to up and down hormones. If you think your symptoms are more severe and are coupled with suicidal thoughts, you're not alone, but it may be time to talk to a doctor to discuss options for natural and clinical treatment.
4. Your Senses Might Be Super Sensitive
I am usually obsessed with anything that involves peanut butter including, but not limited to: spooning it straight out of a jar and into my mouth, spreading it into some toast, and eating it in the form of a Reese's Peanut Butter cup. But in the week before my period, I can't stand the smell of peanut butter to the point that it makes me sick. This heightened sense of smell, or sensitivity to certain smells, is not well documented in the medial community, but there are several internet threads of women talking about it. Some women report getting nausea and even headaches from certain smells about a week before their periods.
5. You Become Really Clumsy
I drop and run into everything about a week before my period and I'm not alone. Unfortunately, this reported clumsiness that many women experience isn't well documented medically, but some theories exist as to why it happens. According to Women's Health magazine the hypothesis is that high estrogen levels trigger your liver to make hormones that affect the kidneys and cause fluid retention in your body and possibly your brain. This fluid retention may make it harder for you to keep your balance.
6. You May Have Trouble Sleeping
If you find that you can't sleep as well right before your period or a few days in, you could be experiencing the temporary insomnia that sometimes graces a woman's period. According to Women's Health magazine your estrogen and progesterone levels are taking a nose dive and that might lead to you getting really hot at night, to the point that it wakes you up. And with lack of progesterone, which has sedation qualities, you may finder it harder to fall asleep than usual.
7. You Might Think You're Pregnant
Before my husband had a vasectomy I used to freak out pretty much every month before my period thinking I could be pregnant. According to Healthline, several PMS symptoms mimic pregnancy symptoms including: breast tenderness, change in eating habits, and mild cramping are common symptoms in PMS and pregnancy. Considering the fact that getting your period is the exact opposite of being pregnant, the similarities in both is strange (and at times unnerving).
Many of the things considered weird or unusual during a woman's period or PMS aren't that weird, they're just not normalized yet in discussions about women's reproductive health. The more these less common or less documented symptoms are talked about, the comfortable society can get in discussing their causes and possible treatments.