Not knowing when your cycle is coming can be annoying when you want do to things like; wear white pants, try for a baby or leave the house without the fear of not having a tampon. It’s annoying but it’s usually a way the body tries to tell us something is off. The brain isn’t signalling our hormones at the right times in our cycle, and our hormone balance becomes out of sync. Whether you’ve got your first period, you’re entering menopause or you’re somewhere in between, it’s important to understand what is normal and what’s not.
Pay Attention and listen
Our body is pretty frick’n impressive. It is looking after over 1 trillion reactions right now… Telling your stomach how to digest that delicious burrito, stay awake, not over heat, sit up, balance your blood sugars, stop you from ripping the head off your annoying co-worker… You get the drift. It’s pretty crazy, amazing cool. So when something is a bit off, we know there is something off with the body. Like when we have a temperature it can be a sign that our body is fighting off some kind of infection. When our period is off, and not regular it can be a sign that our brain, hormones and gut aren’t communicating as affectively as they could be. Every woman is different, but there are some general boundaries that our body should stay in. We can’t just rely on what is common to dictate what we view as normal. Let’s remove some of that confusion though, shall we daarhhling.
Just Starting Your Period?
YAY! Welcome to the club daahrrling. You just got your crazy amazing super power that helps protect your brain, your heart, your gut, your immune system and your bones. It can also feel like less of a super power and more like super annoying in the beginning and we get it…The fear of blood on your school dress, missing out on social events and school because of pain and having to sleep on a towel so you don’t bleed through onto the bed sheets sucks.
Your period doesn’t need to be an excuse to miss out on PE class or why you start to
The more natural periods you have (remember when you’re on the pill you don’t have a period) the more your health becomes resilient in the long run. They’re like deposits into your long term health money bank. It’s NORMAL to have irregular cycles in the beginning. Your brain and ovaries are still figuring out their rhythm. Like a dance between two beginners, vs a dance between two veterans. Your cycles can last up to 45 days normally when we first start to get them. They should shorten down to around 24-34 days, after 6 or so periods.
Remember when we bleed it means our core female hormones are at their lowest.
Powering into Menopause?
“Heeeeeeyyy Baby! Who ha! Am I in Menopause?” What does menopause mean? Basically our brain and ovaries don’t really want to dance with each other as much more. It starts with not ovulating as much. Hence a period here or there… They can be super heavy because oestrogen gets a lot higher compared to progesterone, then they both drop off.
You can tell you’re in menopause if:
- Your oestrodiol levels are low
- Your FSH and LH levels are super high
Basically your brain is trying to tell you to ovulate, but your ovaries have no more juice left in them. (Also you will go through menopause if you have a full hysterectomy too)
Somewhere In Between?
Ah yes, welcome to your late teens, 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. Where we want to avoid getting pregnant, then want to at least want the ability to fall pregnant, then definitely want to get pregnant, then maybe avoid it again. We don’t ask much of our bodies do we? Thankfully when we give our body everything it needs, and rule out conditions that are completely out of our control, we can kill it… and rely on other things in our lifestyle to get pregnant when we want. FYI our period isn’t just there for us to fall pregnant. It helps tell us whether our hormones are in balance and helps us have strong brains, bones and hearts.
Irregular cycles here are most likely due to a couple of things;
- Stress, this is the main way that your brain can basically hi-jack your ovaries and say ‘Noooo Waaay! It’s too dangerous out here for your body to withstand a pregnancy let alone bring a baby into the world’, keep in mind ‘Stress’ can be physical, chemical or emotional
- PCOS: This is when we can’t control our blood sugars and a whole cascade of things happen resulting in no ovulation aka no egg being released and a cyst forming instead.
- Under-eating: This basically means your body doesn’t have enough calories to create and maintain your hormones as well as a baby. It’s technically called hypothalamic amenorrhea… Sounds suuuuper fancy. Basically you need more calories in, so your brain can chill and make all of your health promoting hormones.
- Have you just came off hormonal contraception? It can take up to at-least 3 months for the synthetic hormones to be filtered out of your system (providing your liver and gut are working) for things to start to get back to normal. Be patient grasshopper. If it’s been longer than 3 months you should consider talking to a professional about what you can do.
A couple of things to rule out or consider;
- Are you pregnant?
- Could you be going through early menopause (this is usually genetic or from surgery. Get some bloods to checked for this one!)
Why Do we care?
Regular periods are a great measure of how our bodies core functions are going. When they happen regularly and routinely then we can have an educated guess that our female hormones are functioning as they should. Timing to avoid pregnancy or to conceive can be a lot easier this way too!
Fritz, M. and Speroff, L., 2010. Clinical Gynecologic Endocrinology And Infertility. 8th ed. Lipponcott Wilkins & Williams.