As any menstruating person will tell you, periods are a drag. The mess, pain, and general inconvenience of them makes Shark Week exceptionally trying. However, your period can also be a great source of information about your health and general well-being. The things your period is trying to tell you might even save you some serious pain and suffering in the long run. Basically, your monthly visitor is just trying to help by providing an easy way to gauge all sorts of info about what’s going on in your body.
Sure, a monthly text message detailing your body’s vital signs would be a whole lot easier than dealing with your cycle, but technology is not at that point (yet). So in the meantime, you can read your menses for important information about everything from your diet to your reproductive health. And don’t worry: you won’t have to get all up close and personal to get a good read on things.
Learning more about this aspect of your body can mean great things for your overall health. Although periods are no fun, carefully monitoring them may even help you avoid potentially major health problems. Perhaps this can make your relationship with Aunt Flo a little easier to manage.
1. You May Be Iron Deficient
If you have a seriously heavy flow every month, then you may be at risk for an iron deficiency. According to Women's Health, when you lose excess blood during menstruation, your body's iron stores become depleted. And without proper iron levels, you may develop iron-deficiency anemia, which triggers fatigue, fogginess, and mood swings. If this kind of persistent fatigue sounds familiar, then you can get tested for anemia at your doctor's office.
2. You May Have Cervical Polyps
Heavy periods can be a potential symptom of cervical polyps, which are "fingerlike growths on the lower part of the uterus that connects with the vagina," according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. They are usually benign and can be removed by a physician in an outpatient procedure.
3. You May Suffer From Endometriosis
Is your period pain just debilitating? It may be a symptom of endometriosis is pelvic pain, according to Mayo Clinic. This symptom may also be accompanied by extreme cramps and heavy bleeding.
4. You May Have A Hormonal Imbalances
Is your period impossible to track? You may have anovulation, or a severe hormonal imbalance, as professor of obstetrics-gynecology and reproductive sciences Amy Autry told Everyday Health. If you're concerned about an irregular period, a chat with your physician might help to reveal any underlying health concerns.
5. You May Have An Infection
“Bacterial infections, pelvic inflammatory disease, and sexually transmitted infections can cause the inside of your uterus to become inflamed and bleed,” OB-GYN Eduardo Lara-Torre told Shape. “You’ll still get your regular period, but you may bleed in between because of the infection.” This might be a good reason to — you guessed it — visit your doctor for advice.
6. You Over-Exercise
If your cycle has gone MIA, then you might be overtraining. "Missing your menstrual periods is often a sign of decreased estrogen levels," according to WebMd. But the trouble doesn't stop there. The site also noted that low estrogen levels can lead to osteoporosis. Yikes! This might be a good reason to rethink your training regime.
7. You Have A Pituitary Tumor
Even if you aren't overtraining, the loss of periods can also indicate other health concerns. According to the American Cancer Society, the high prolactin levels from a pituitary tumor may cause menstrual periods to become less frequent or to stop.
8. You Are Stressed
Yet another potential cause of missed periods: stress. According to Everyday Health, stress can cause irregular or missed periods. "As stress levels rise, there’s a chance that your menstrual period will temporarily stop, a condition known as secondary amenorrhea," according to the publication. It could be your body's way of telling you to chill out.
9. You Have Thyroid Problems
Your period problems might originate in your thyroid. "Too much or too little thyroid hormone can make your periods very light, heavy, or irregular," according to the Office on Women's Health. "Thyroid disease also can cause your periods to stop for several months or longer, a condition called amenorrhea." If your periods are acting weird in any way, then getting your thyroid checked may be a good call.