1. Some things can make your period irregular:
- Eating disorders (anorexia or bulimia), extreme weight loss, or excessive exercising
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (a hormonal disorder that can cause small cysts to develop on the ovaries)
- Premature ovarian failure (loss of normal ovarian function before you turn 40)
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (an infection of the female reproductive organs, and one of the most serious complications of STD in women—it can permanently damage any part of the reproductive system)
- Uterine fibroids, aka myomas (noncancerous growths of the uterus that usually appear after you give birth)
2. Your period is NOT normal if:
- You soak a pad or tampon every hour for several hours. Heavy bleeding can be a sign of problems like a blood clot disorder or hypothyrodism.
- It's unpredictable.
3. It might not come back as soon as you stop taking the pill.
This doesn't mean that taking the contraceptive pill is bad or unsafe. It just prevents your body from letting the hormones get involved in ovulation and menstruation. Your period should come back within three to six months. If you're in your 20s and it's not back within six months, see your doctor. If you're in your 30s and you still didn't get it back in the third month, see your doctor.
4. Really, really awful dysmenorrhea can be a sign of something bad.
There's primary and secondary dysmenorrhea. In primary dysmenorrhea, the pain is not related to a specific problem in the uterus or other pelvic organs. It usually has something to do with prostaglandin, a hormone produced in the uterus.
The secondary dysmenorrhea is the one related to problems in the uterus and other pelvic organs. Some of these problems are:
- Endometriosis (a condition where cells from the lining of your uterus grow in other areas of your body and stay inside your body—the cells should be shed by your uterus when you have your period)
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (see #1)
- Sexually transmitted infection
5. Working out can really feel more difficult when you're on your period.
Muscles need oxygen to produce energy. When you're on your period (that is, you're bleeding) you lose a lot of iron, the mineral that helps deliver oxygen to your tissues and support muscle function.
6. Keep yourself strong when you have your period by eating food rich in iron.
Time to feast on beef, clams, oysters, salmon, and sardines!
Avoid drinking coffee and tea and eating calcium-rich food because those will prevent you from absorbing the iron found in your steak or seafood. To absorb iron better, eat iron-rich food with great sources of vitamin C like broccoli.
7. Remember to consult your doctor if:
- Your period stops for more than three months and you're not pregnant.
- Your period becomes irregular when you're actually regular.
- You bleed for more than seven days.
- You bleed more heavily than usual or soak more than one pad or tampon every hour or two.
- Your period is less than 21 days or more than 35 days apart.
- You experience severe pain.
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