Your period is kind of like a mood ring for the rest of your body. If you pay attention to the way you’re bleeding, you can pick up some major clues and insights about your health.
So what is normal and what isn’t?
Its good to ask yourself some questions like how many tampons or pads do you use? Or how long does your period last?
This just helps us become more acquainted with our body so we know when something is unusual. According to Sara Twogood, Doctor of medicine and a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist, if your blood is bright red that color usually means your flow is just beginning and will probably get heavier in the days to come.
If it is reddish brown, don’t freak. That just means you’re at the tail end of your period.
If you’re used to changing your tampon or pad multiple times a day and then have a few monthly cycles where you need far fewer, a couple of different things could be going on. One big explanation is hormonal birth control:
If you’ve just had an IUD or if you’ve just started on birth control pills, you might see your flow slow to a trickle.
If the birth control explanation doesn’t sound right to you, have your doctor check you out for other issues (like a thyroid imbalance).
Rapidly soaking through tampons or pads when that isn’t the norm could be the result of your birth control — or it could signal that something is up.
If you just had a copper IUD (ParaGard) inserted, you can pretty much expect your period to get heavier or longer.
Otherwise, periods that suddenly become very heavy or start dragging on for more than a week could be caused by a polyp or fibroid, two types of benign growths that commonly crop in the uterine lining. Most polyps don’t require treatment — they go away on their own. Fibroids might require medication to shrink down.
Either way, it’s smart to report any heavy bleeding to your doctor, who may want to give you a blood test for anemia (low iron due to blood loss) even if there’s nothing more serious going on.
You know how sometimes your period feels very liquid-y, and then other times there’s a thicker splotch of blood? Those small clots are common on the heaviest days of bleeding, when your flow is too fast for the body’s built-in blood thinners to work their magic. As long as clots are smaller than a quarter, they’re considered normal, Dr. T explains.
Do you get crampy? During your period, your body produces chemicals called prostaglandins that encourage the uterus to contract and push out what’s inside. But strong contractions can briefly pinch off blood supply to the area, setting off waves of pain. It’s not fun, but it’s normal. Ibuprofen (like Advil or Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve) can help, Dr. Twogood says. Cramps that literally cramp your life — to the point where it’s hard to go to school — could be a sign of a condition called endometriosis. Basically, it happens when the type of tissue normally found inside the uterus starts growing outside the uterus. Other symptoms include very heavy periods, nausea, and constipation. If this is happening, check it with your doctor.
A normal menstrual cycle is between 28 and 35 days.
So your period begins four to five weeks after your last period began. If your periods become irregular and you have Light bleeding in between periods — aka spotting —
It can happen for a couple reasons. Sometimes the cause is a sexually transmitted infection. If you’ve recently had unprotected sex, consider setting up an STI screening to see what’s up. Spotting is also a potential side effect of hormonal birth control, including the Pill, IUD and Depo-Provera shot.
Any other unusual things happening? Always best to check with a doctor so you know whats up!