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What Your Period Can Tell You About Your Health

It’s easy to think of your period as a curse (especially when you’re trying to get pregnant), but it can be a valuable insight into your overall reproductive health.

Period cramps are common, and are caused by prostaglandin – a hormone involved in pain and inflammation. Severe period pain or a feeling of pressure in your lower abdomen as you bleed are an indication that something isn’t quite right – endometriosis (uterine tissue growing outside the uterus) could be at the root of your agony, or you may have fibroids. The only way to confirm is to see your doctor for tests.

The colour of your period can tell you a lot about your health. There’s three typical colours for fresh blood: strawberry red, blueberry purple/red, and cranberry juice red. If it’s the red-blue colour of blueberry jam and slightly thick, you’re likely to have high estrogen levels; excess estrogen causes your uterine lining to thicken. If your period is a light pink or strawberry jam colour, your estrogen levels are probably too low; your period may also be patchy and off-schedule. Cranberry red is the ideal colour.

The amount you’re bleeding is also a good indicator of where your health is at. If you’re soaking through super tampons within a few hours, you’re at risk for anemia and a wide range of disorders and diseases (such as polyps and tumors). If your bleeding is very light, that’s usually caused by stress, poor nutrition or hormone changes (such as perimenopause or taking hormonal birth control).

Spotting between periods is common when you’re on hormonal birth control; if you’re bleeding between periods and you’re not taking anything, it’s important that you see your doctor to rule out more serious problems.

If your period has disappeared altogether and you’re not pregnant, taking hormonal birth control or going through menopause, it may be due to your weight (extremely low and extremely high body fat can cause amenorrhea) or issues with your thyroid and/or pituitary gland.

If you notice any sudden changes to your cycle, regardless of timing, texture or flow, it’s worth seeing someone to get checked out – at the very least, for your own peace of mind.