When Aunt Flo comes knocking before time, we don't really welcome her with open arms. While some women may panic on getting their period before the expected date, most of the times, there’s really no reason to be concerned. Each woman’s menstrual cycle is different from the other; your cycle starts on the first day of your current period and ends on the first day of your next period. On an average, the menstrual cycle lasts anywhere from 21 to 39 days and the number of days each woman bleeds also varies. Early periods occur when your cycle is shorter than 21 days. While this may sound unnerving, it also happens when you are stressed or if you travel a lot. In rare cases, there is an underlying medical condition. Let’s take a look at the causes and ways to manage early periods.
Causes of Early Periods
When you are in the age group of 8 to 13 years, puberty strikes your body. For most girls, their first period or menarche occurs two years after they start to develop breasts. At this stage, there are hormones that affect your menstrual cycle and carry on through your child-bearing years. Every month, the uterus wall thickens to nourish a fertilised egg. In case it doesn’t happen, the lining sheds each month in the form of your menstrual cycle. When you hit puberty, the hormones involved are not as developed and can be irregular for a few years, causing early periods every now and then.
If early periods recur, it could also be a sign of perimenopause, the stage before you hit menopause. This is generally when women are in their 40s and have unstable hormones that affect the time of ovulation. In fact, there might be months when you won’t have periods at all. The other symptoms associated with perimenopause are hot flashes, vaginal dryness, or spotting. In a lot of cases, spotting is common before or even after periods; this is an indication that your hormones are not in check.
There are also other reasons such as pushing yourself a little too hard in the gym that could cause early periods. Athletes face this issue often if they train too hard before an event such as a marathon. When you undergo extreme weight loss, your body lacks the energy to secrete reproductive hormones for proper ovulation. Make sure you receive adequate nutrition and rest to get your cycle back on track.
Mental Stress & Anxiety
The hormones that are responsible for menstruation are controlled by the brain, and emotional stress and anxiety interfere with its proper function. As we all know, stress is a killer and affects hormonal balance. To regulate your cycle, ensure that you reduce stress by practicing exercises like yoga or meditation, and also eat a healthy diet on a regular basis.
Birth Control Pills
Hormone-based birth control pills affect ovulation and menstruation in a direct manner. That’s not all; there are other symptoms that are also observed, including sore breasts, cramps, headaches, and nausea.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS is a hormonal condition that affects at least one out of 10 women who are in the reproductive stage. This condition is characterised by early or late periods, primarily due to imbalance in hormones. There could be other conditions too, including thyroid, diabetes, or endometriosis that could cause early periods.
How to Manage Early Periods
Here are a few ways to manage early periods so that you aren’t caught off-guard:
Track your Period
First and foremost, the smart thing to do is track your periods. This way, you will understand your menstrual cycle in a better manner and can detect anything abnormal. Besides, it is also advised to keep track of the days on which you ovulate, so that you can figure if it’s just regular spotting caused by ovulation.
Take care of your Health
There are times when our schedules go haywire, which means we don’t get enough sleep or eat the right kind of food. Of course, your body acts accordingly, by causing an early period or even skipping it. Besides, if you starve yourself, your body has no energy to regulate reproductive functions. If you find yourself in this situation, ensure you eat a balanced diet and sleep well. Even if you have a hectic schedule, take out some time to unwind or pack in some exercise.
Wear Sanitary Protection
Make sure you wear the right kind of sanitary protection, be it tampons or sanitary pads, in case Aunt Flo strikes before your usual date. If you track your menstrual cycle every month, you can be well-armed before your period occurs. Make sure you wear the right kind of products so that you are comfortable during that time of the month!
Generally, early periods are caused by lifestyle factors that can be checked and controlled. In case this is a common recurrence, make sure to visit a doctor. After all, your body speaks to you. So, listen to it!