What Causes Changes In The Menstrual Cycle

Although changes to your menstrual cycle often aren’t any cause for concern, sometimes they can indicate an underlying health issue.¹ For th...

Although changes to your menstrual cycle often aren’t any cause for concern, sometimes they can indicate an underlying health issue.¹ For this reason, it’s important to get to know your body, stay informed and keep a watchful eye on any sudden changes. Once you’re aware of what to look out for, you’ll also be more equipped to listen to and support your body from a place of understanding, rather than panic.

A sudden change in menstrual cycle length

You might find it comforting to know that just because your menstrual cycle may be different to someone else’s you know, it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s anything to worry about. We are all unique beings and our menstrual cycles reflect that. Some of us can predict our exact cycle down to a T. 

Others might have to play a bit more of a guessing game. In fact, it’s entirely normal to have a fluctuating cycle, as long as it doesn’t vary too much.¹

If you do suspect that you might be irregular, doctors suggest that you look at the number of days within your cycle. If your cycle lasts for more than 38 days or is shorter than 24, your period might be considered irregular. Another good way to check is to see if your cycle is off by more than 7-9 days.

 

Entering into a new decade of your life

Sometimes, a change in your menstrual cycle can also be the result of natural fluctuations of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. These hormones directly influence your menstrual cycle. As we enter into new phases of our lives, these levels rise and fall as they find their balance. 

During this stabilization period, you might notice some changes to your cycle. The link between your period and your environment

Speaking of hormones, when your body is under stress, it releases a stress hormone called cortisol.⁴

Cortisol is great when it comes to helping us run away from, say, a lion, but too much of it can wreak havoc on our menstrual cycles.⁴ Depending on your body and the level of stress you’re experiencing, your period might become delayed, lighter, or MIA entirely.⁴

If you feel that stress may be contributing to changes in your cycle, you may want to prioritize toning down your stress levels. A few examples may include meditation, yoga, or any other moderate exercise of your choice.⁶

Exercise and your menstrual cycle

As mentioned, exercise can be a great way to relax and lower your cortisol levels. It can also be used as a way to manage some of your pain, particularly when it comes to painful menstrual cramps.¹⁰ 

Although it’s good to get enough exercise, it’s important not to overdo exercise either. Too much exercise can also mess with your cycle, or stop it altogether.¹⁰

The relationship between your diet and your period

Much like hormones, diet also plays an important role in your menstrual cycle.⁶ You might find that the symptoms you usually experience alongside your period may be negatively or positively impacted by the

food you eat. For example, certain foods like dark chocolate and turmeric may lessen the severity of your symptoms, whereas others like alcohol and spicy food may worsen them.⁶

If you aren’t getting the correct nutrition or your diet is causing you to lose weight at a rapid rate, your period might even disappear entirely. A change in your medication If you’ve recently changed, stopped, or started with any medication, this may also cause changes to your

menstrual cycle. A few examples include blood thinning medication, hormonal pills, and antidepressants.⁷,⁸

If you suspect your medication may be interfering with your cycle, be sure to let your doctor know so that they can adjust it or help you to rule out any other concerns.

The different types of menstrual blood

At some point in your life, you might notice a change in the colour of your menstrual blood. Once again, listening to what your body is trying to tell you through these changes, may place you in a better position to keep yourself safe.

Certain colour changes are perfectly normal, whereas others can signal underlying health issues. As an example, bright red generally indicates fresh blood, whereas a darker shade indicates older blood - both

of which are healthy. On the other hand, grey blood could indicate a bacterial infection.⁹

When to see a medical professional for advice

Small changes to your menstrual cycle aren’t usually anything to worry about, however, you know your body best, so you might prefer to judge the situation yourself and consider visiting your local medical professional for some advice if something feels off.

If pregnancy is ruled out entirely, there might be an underlying condition that your body is trying to let you know about. Some indicators could include an increase in pelvic pain or lower back pain, often experiencing irregular or missed periods, and bleeding between periods.

References

  1. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322643
  2. https://www.eehealth.org/blog/2018/08/menstrual-cycle-changes/
  3. https://www.msdmanuals.com/en-nz/home/women-s-health-issues/biology-of-the-femalereproductive-system/menstrual-cycle
  4. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/can-stress-cause-you-to-skip-a-period/
  5. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324781#reduce-stress
  6. https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/what-to-eat-during-period#foods-to-avoid
  7. https://www.webmd.com/women/why-is-my-period-so-random
  8. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322643#medication
  9. https://creeksideobgyn.com/colors-period-blood-means/
  10. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324781#adjust-exercise-levels

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