Periods are just about as diverse as the women who experience them.
Some are heavy, some are light. Some last three days, while others last eight. Some are irregular and some appear like clock work. Some women are left debilitated for seven days a month, while others don’t feel so much as a twinge. But is it just luck of the draw?
We spoke to Dr Brad McKay, a respected Australian doctor who appeared on the television series Embarrassing Bodies Down Under, to try and determine what our periods are trying to telling us about our health.
“Why is my period irregular?”
“Irregular periods are normal at the start and end of your fertile years, when you’re going through puberty or approaching menopause,” Dr Brad McKay said.
“They can also become irregular if your weight changes, if you have thyroid problems, take contraception, have other medications that interfere with your cycle, and even stress can throw your periods out of a regular cycle.”
Although 30 per cent of women experience irregular periods during childbearing years, they could be a sign of an underlying health condition. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) which is thought to affect between 12 to 18 per cent of women of reproductive age, can cause irregularity along with excessive body hair growth, weight gain, and acne.
“Why aren’t I getting my period?”
The first thing you should do, according to Dr Brad McKay, is obvious.
Get a pregnancy test.
If the test is negative, then it could be down to hormonal changes, weight loss, a period of illness, thyroid problems, medication changes, or forms of contraception that stop your periods altogether.
Ever wondered what it would be like if your period was a person?
“Why is my period lasting so long?”
“It’s unusual if your period lasts for more than a week,” Dr Brad McKay said.
“It’s important to see your doctor and consider checking for sexually transmitted infections as inflammation of the cervix or womb can cause prolonged bleeding. Change of the uterus can also cause your period to last a long time,” he explained.