If you've ever experienced a particularly light period and wondered WTF is going on—seeing as the month before your period was flowing like some kind of river—you're not alone.
Not all periods were created equal, it seems, and ain't that the truth. But being the ever-curious creatures we are, we wanted to know why. So we asked Pink Parcel’s resident GP, Dr. Tatiana Lapa to explain why a woman might have a particularly light period at certain times. It turns out there are various factors which contribute to your monthly cycle, such as:
Stress is a normal part of a busy woman's life, but it does take a toll on your body. Dr. Lapa explains: "Stress can block the release of hormones that are necessary for normal menstrual periods. When this hormone is blocked, light menstrual periods can occur."
While stress can affect your period, Dr. Lapa says daily stresses, such as presentations and deadlines, are unlikely to impact your cycle. Rather, it often takes a one-time, extraordinarily stressful event to create an abnormal period, such as losing a loved one, divorce, or illness. Not only can emotional stresses affect your cycle, but physical stresses, such as vigorous exercise can also impact your period.
2. Dangerous dieting
Your body fat percentage and body weight directly affect your period, and being extremely underweight can cause your period to become irregular because your hormones are not working normally. "Low body weight interferes with the production of hormones, which can lead to lighter menstrual periods," explains Lapa.
The doctor also adds that losing or gaining an extreme amount of weight can cause irregularities with your period. Be sure to embrace a healthy, balanced diet to ensure your systems are all operating properly!
3. Your age
Your age is more than just a number; it can also be a tell-tale sign for different changes happening in your body—including your menstrual cycle. As you approach your mid-30s to early 40s, your ovaries begin to show their age and one of these symptoms could be lighter than usual periods.
Dr. Lapa says: "At this age you have fewer functional eggs, and subsequently you may have less estrogen. Your ovaries will officially stop working somewhere in your 50s—with the average age of menopause (defined as your very last period) is between 51 and 52 years old." But if your period is starting to slow down a bit, don't freak out that you're getting old just yet!
4. The pill
One of the most common reasons for having a lighter period is going on the birth control pill, with some doctors prescribing it to women with heavy, painful periods. Dr. Lapa explains: "Some birth control methods prevent an egg from releasing in your body. When your body doesn't release an egg, your uterus doesn't create a thick lining, which can result in lighter periods or skipped periods altogether."
Not only does the pill mean lighter periods, but many women experience less severe cramps and more regular periods, which is often a welcome change!
5. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, or PCOS, is a fairly common condition in which ovaries become enlarged and contain many fluid-filled sacs which surround the egg.
Dr. Lapa says: "When you have polycystic ovaries, the imbalance of hormones can lead to irregular periods, including painful and heavy bleeds, shorter or lighter than usual periods." Some women with PCOS might not even experience periods at all. So watch out for the signs and get checked!
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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com/uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.