The Rules are There are No Rules
The general menstrual cycle is known to be 28 days. But only 10-15% of people who menstruate get their period every 28 days exactly. Most people have their own menstrual cycle, and 20% regularly have an “irregular cycle”.
Having your period earlier or later is extremely common. This is because the hormones that control our menstrual cycle are sensitive to our body’s conditions and external factors.
But don't accept the early start of your period as a natural condition. By recognizing the signals sent by your body you can determine when you need to take a break, or seek professional advice.
Let’s find the appropriate measures by learning about the various factors that may cause your period to start earlier.
01. Changes in daily life
Dietary intake or exercises different from your usual routine can affect the hormones and change your menstrual cycle. If you have started a new meal plan or exercise routine, this may be the reason.
Strenuous exercise can lead to irregular periods or cessation of your period completely. Burning more calories than what you consume could also affect your menstrual cycle. If you don't have enough energy, the body cannot produce reproductive hormones for normal ovulation. Female athletes who undergo high-intensity training for a few hours every day often experience an irregular menstrual cycle.
Early, irregular, and missed periods are often associated with weight changes. Drastic weight gain or loss can alter hormone levels, leading to irregular periods. Extreme diets, stomach surgery, or eating disorders can change the menstrual cycle. When the body is in starvation mode, it reserves energy for essential life functions like breathing and stops producing reproductive hormones.
Stress is one of the common causes of early menstruation along with many chemical changes in the body. Your period could also be late. The hormones may not work properly if you have recently experienced anxiety or a traumatic event.
If there are significant changes (travel, vacation, etc.) in your normal routine, your body may change the way it controls your hormones. If your sleep patterns have significantly changed, it can affect your hormones and cause your period to come early. These changes will return to normal once your schedule becomes stable.
02. Life cycle
Menopause is a farewell to menstruation. People experience various changes before and after menopause. Hormones, especially estrogen and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), can change considerably. For some people, their periods can start early due to an increase in FSH level. Common and natural menopause is not a health issue that requires medical treatment. However, appropriate treatment is needed if you experience early menopause or any of the following symptoms:
- Severe bleeding that soaks the menstrual pad/tampon within two hours
- New or rapidly worsening symptoms, disrupting daily life
- Pain or bleeding during or after intercourse
Women typically get their first period between the ages of 12 and 15. Hormones are imbalanced for the first few years (up to 6 years) after starting your period, and the menstrual cycle may be irregular. Puberty is a natural phase, and it generally does not need medical intervention. However, starting your first period too early or too late may give rise to the need for hormone therapy. As those who have experienced these changes and confusion, let’s be there for our sisters and daughters so that they can get through this phase together.
03. Using Contraceptives
Hormonal contraceptives directly affect ovulation and menstruation. If you are taking birth control pills, the next cycle depends on when you started taking the pills and whether or not you have taken a placebo for a week. Intrauterine devices (IUDs, also known as loop contraceptives) can lead to irregular periods for the first two to three months. There could also be breakthrough bleeding as a side effect.
04. Pregnancy and Miscarriage
There could be light bleeding or spotting when a fertilized egg attaches to the interior lining of the uterus. It can generally occur one to two weeks after unprotected sex or a few days earlier. Implantation bleeding has a darker color than your period as the blood remains in the body for a longer period of time. 15 to 25% experience implantation bleeding in pregnancy.
The signs of implantation are as follows:
- Light bleeding
- Abdominal cramps
- Painful or tender breasts
- Changes in body temperature
Implantation bleeding is a normal sign of pregnancy and is not a dangerous symptom requiring medical attention. But see a doctor if there is heavy bleeding or severe menstrual pain as well as abdominal and hip pain.
Some women experience miscarriage before realizing that they are pregnant. The body discharges placenta tissues through the vagina when a miscarriage occurs, and medications or surgery may be required if the individual cannot discharge all tissues or substances naturally. Be sure to see a doctor if there are signs of miscarriage. There is a high risk of infection if there is pregnancy tissue remaining in the uterus.
The signs of miscarriage are as follows:
- Continuous vaginal bleeding
- Severe cramps or different muscle pain than usual
- Vaginal discharge with odor
- Clotted vaginal discharge
Most women can experience irregular periods without having a serious health condition. But our everyday life gets easier if we can predict our period. Let’s start with small habits that can help us determine our regular cycle.
☑️ Have regular and sufficient sleep patterns
- If you work nights make sure to sleep in a dark, quiet environment during the day. This can help the biological clock work properly.
☑️ Eat healthy and balanced meals
☑️ Regularly exercise at an appropriate intensity for your body
☑️ Maintain a healthy weight for you
☑️ Regularly visit your obstetrician/gynecologist