Listen up ladies! Aunt Flow has something to say...
Despite being a completely normal part of being a woman - talking about periods often feels difficult and isn’t considered standard coffee conversation. However, knowing what your period is telling you about your body can be really helpful in staying healthy.
Here’s a quick breakdown on the things your period might be saying...
❤ If your blood is bright red ❤
The fresher the blood the brighter it is so bright red blood is more common right at the start of your period or during spotting. Bright red blood is normally a good sign of a consistent flow but also tends to indicate the heaviest period of your, uh, period! A good time to ensure your well stocked on sanitary items and to be mindful when exercising that you might feel a bit more lethargic then normal or even a tad lightheaded if your flow is heavy.
❤ If your blood is brown ❤
Brown blood is generally actually a good thing. After a couple of days most women will find their bleed goes from bright reed to a burnished brown. This is basically slightly older blood from your uterus that has had a chance to oxidise. Its at this point in their periods that many women often feel more like their normal, semi energetic, mostly motivated selves. There is less worry about pushing yourself during your workouts here, in fact working out can be really helpful in reducing any lasting cramps or menstrual based bloating.
❤ If you’ve got some clotting ❤
Blood clots are an fairly common and generally annoying. The odd occasional clot is generally nothing worrisome, some studies suggest the thick, jelly like nature of clots helps to stop too much bleeding too quickly which frankly is a good thing.
However, many women who experience frequent clotting also complain of heavy and painful periods. The presence of large of heavy clotting can be a sign of something amiss and is definitely worth a chat with your GP or practice nurse.
❤ If your cycle is irregular ❤
So there are loads of reasons your period might be irregular, even though most women will always jump straight to wondering if they should panic buy a pregnancy test. Hormones are a vital in the release of an egg so anything that messes up that delicate balance can effect the arrival of your bleed. Stress is a common cause of irregular periods as the stress hormone cortisol can block the key hormonal messages telling the body to release an egg.
Eating a diet high in sugar can also cause irregular periods as changes in insulin sensitivity can cause all kinds of disruption with menstruation. Check out our previous blog on insulin sensitivity for more info and healthy choice to help.
If you period remains irregular for three consecutive cycles, or you have other symptoms including pain, acne or excess body hair have a chat with your GP to rule out any other complications such as hormonal conditions.
❤ If you have bad cramps ❤
Cramping occurs when your uterus contracts to help shed its lining during your period. This contraction releases a substance called prostaglandins and the more of these you produce the more painful your cramp can be. This doesn’t tell you a whole lot about your health in general but hey at least you know the science of why it hurts! However it your periods are incredibly painful its important to talk to your doctor as this could be your body telling you about something more serious such as endometriosis
❤ If your flow is heavy ❤
Most people loose about 30 to 74mls of blood during a period. This is about 5-12 teaspoons although it feels like so much more! Some women however have much heavier periods. It’s important to be aware of what it normal for you as heavier periods can be a sign of something more sinister and should be discussed with your GP to rule out any gynaecological conditions. Heavy periods can also lead to an iron deficiency and you might be recommended to take an iron supplement. There is also some evidence to suggest increasing your spinach consumption during your period can help this. If you do suffer with heavy periods you may find yourself feeling foggier, more irritated and at times light headed during your period. Bare this in mind when working out and focus on gentle regular exercise over intense work outs for the next couple of days.