Getting your flow on time and as expected can be a great feeling. It’s just that little nod from your body to let you know that all is working as it should. But sometimes you can open your period tracker and realise, eek! Something’s a little off! It doesn’t necessarily mean something serious though; often lifestyle and routine changes are the culprits as they can throw your menstruation off its usual course.
Here are some of the more common reasons why your flow might get disrupted:
Stress is a normal part of life, but when it’s not effectively managed it can cause all sorts of problems. It releases a hormone called cortisol in the body and elevated levels of cortisol have been linked to either lighter periods or even amenorrhea, which is your period going missing for a month or more altogether. Not only that, if you have experienced elevated levels of stress in the month leading up to your bleed, you are likely to have a more painful flow.
Fluctuations in hormones due to some lifestyle changes like dieting or exercise can also affect your menstrual cycle. Calorie deficit diets, intense exercise, weight fluctuations, long-term alcohol consumption and even a change in your sleep cycle may disrupt the hormones that regulate your flow. This often manifests in shorter cycles or even amenorrhea.
If you needed to take emergency contraception or “The Morning After Pill” in the month leading up to your flow, chances are things might be a little off during your usual bleed time. The Morning After Pill works by blocking the hormones that promote implantation or delaying the ovulation cycle altogether. Careful studies have shown that emergency contraception usually causes periods to come 3-4 days earlier or alternatively later than the expected date. Around 13-14% of women will unfortunately also experience excruciating cramps in the first flow after emergency contraception, so it’s always good to also chat to your pharmacist about ways you can ease the pain.
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