Hey Doc: Whats the deal with periods?
Ah periods. What a dose. We all have questions and some of us don’t know who to ask. Luckily, we have Dr Sharon here who will talk about literally anything.
Why do we get periods?
When girls are born they normally have a uterus [womb], 2 fallopian tubes and 2 ovaries- one left and one right. There are a million eggs in girls’ ovaries from the beginning. From puberty[ average age 10-16] one egg gets picked every month and travels from the ovary down the fallopian tube to the uterus. The uterus has built up a lining in anticipation of the arrival of this egg and in preparation for pregnancy. When pregnancy doesn’t happen the lining of the uterus [ blood] is shed or cast away by the womb and the whole process repeats itself the next month. This is a period. This goes on until menopause when periods stop [average age 51].
What is a normal period?
The menstrual cycle is measured from day 1 of one period to day 1 of the next period. Normal cycles can be anywhere between 21 and 35 days. Shorter or longer cycles are worth mentioning to your doctor to get checked out. If the ovaries are releasing an egg every month[called Ovulation] this usually means you get a regular period.
What is not normal?
Extremely heavy bleeding with clots or ‘flooding’ when you stand up or destroying the bed or your clothes with blood is not normal. Little leaks are not unusual. Extremely painful periods lasting more than the first day or 2 is not normal. Bleeding in between the periods is not normal. Fainting and feeling very nauseated can occur with a period but if it causes you to miss school or work regularly its best to see your doctor for help with medication like Painkillers or the pill.
Why would you miss a period?
The commonest cause of missing a period is Pregnancy so always check that if there is any chance of getting pregnant. Otherwise stress, moving house, exams, change in weight can all cause a girl to skip a period. Other common reasons include medical problems like PCOS[ polycystic ovarian syndrome] which affect around 10% of girls. Always ask your GP if you have any worries- we can do simple tests to check out any problems.
Can you skip a period?
Yes- if you really don’t want a period at a particular time there is hormone tablets that can be taken to postpone a period. Again – talk to your doctor about it!