6 Things That Can Affect Your Menstrual Cycle
1. Exercising strenuously
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Ever heard of marathon runners 'losing their periods'? Frankly, this is not a myth and is their reality. How?
It is said that frequent rigorous exercise combined with low body fat puts stress on your body, and this stress tells your brain to stop producing reproductive hormones.
One study found that half of exercising women experience subtle menstrual irregularity. A period that arrives a few days off schedule is nothing to worry about, but see your doctor if you haven't had your period for longer than three months.This condition is called amenorrhea and can jeopardize your bone density in the long run.
How can I avoid this?
Doctors have recommended switching your usual routine to light exercises such as:
- Light walking
- Low-volume strength training
2. Being overweight
How does being overweight affect our period?
Studies have shown that excess fat cells elevates your estrogen level, ultimately hindering your ovaries from releasing an egg. Meanwhile, the endometrial lining continues to thicken.
Thus, a woman who is overweight often experience heavy, infrequent, longer-lasting periods. Having too much estrogen for an extended period of time increases your risk of endometrial cancer.
What can I do?
If losing weight doesn't seem to be working out for you, it's recommended to talk to your gynaecologist about going on the pill because birth control is able t thin out your endometrial lining, decreasing your risk for endometrial cancer.
3. Being underweight
Being underweight has the opposite reaction. Your body isn't producing enough estrogen to build up your uterus lining to have a period. Thus, women who are underweight may not have regular periods, they may find menstruation stops, or an adolescent’s first period may be delayed or absent. Irregular or absent menstruation can cause infertility (not to scare you guys!)
4. Feeling stressed out
In life, we are bound to be stressed because that's the reality, life just isn't perfect. But if it’s gotten to the point that your menstrual flow is being disrupted, all the more reason to prioritize both your mental and physical wellbeing.
A link has been found between women working stressful jobs and having short cycles (defined as less than 24 days).
But how does stress affect our period?
1) Your period can come early or late
Stress levels often affect your hypothalamus; the part of your brain that controls your hormone levels, and can cause illness or sudden fluctuations in your weight — two things that can throw your period out of whack.
2) You might miss your period altogether
When your hormones are out of whack due to factors like stress, your hypothalamus essentially makes the call that your body can’t handle pregnancy at the moment, which can result in a missed period entirely.
5. The pill
You may ask, why do people go on birth control pills if it's to prevent pregnancy? Some people use birth control pills to regulate their periods. But like a lot of things, you need a few months for your body to adjust to these changes. As the lining of your uterus becomes thinner, you may expect spotting.
The pill stabilizes the lining of your uterus, but the lining needs a steady supply of hormones in order to stay put. So spotting can occur if you forget to take a pill, or take it late. For example, if you took your pill today at 10am, but 1pm the next day, it can cause spotting, especially with the progestin-only pill.
6. Sleeping poorly
You know skimping on sleep can make you feel off, but subpar slumber patterns can throw off your cycle, too. In fact, people who work irregular hours (like nurses and flight attendants) are more likely to experience irregular periods.
How does sleeping poorly affect our period?
Shifting your body clock affects your reproductive hormones, which influence ovulation and menstruation.