As women, we’re well versed in our menstrual cycles. When you think that over our lifetime, the average woman will have around 450 periods (ugh!) there isn’t a lot of mystery to our monthly cycle.
At Women’s Health Medical Group all we do is women’s health. So let’s see if you know these four facts about your period.
Fact #1 — If you’re on the pill, the period you get is not a “true” period.
It certainly seems the same. After all, you do bleed during the week when you take the sugar pills. But the term for this is actually “monthly withdrawal bleeding,” and it’s slightly different than during a regular period.
This is because on the pill you don’t ovulate. The hormones keep your body from releasing an egg. Your bleeding is a reaction to the lack of hormones during that last week on the pill. It’s not a reaction to the egg not being fertilized, which causes your hormone levels to drop, initiating the shedding of the lining inside your uterus, which is a true period.
Fact #2 — Your period changes throughout your life.
Hormone shifts happen throughout your life and they affect your cycle. When you get your first period your cycles may be longer, meaning there will be more time between periods. As you age, the length of your cycles will become shorter. OK, this is easy to plan around.
But then comes perimenopause, the years before menopause, and your hormones get a little crazy. The time between periods may get shorter or longer. Your bleeding may become heavier or lighter. These swings can last up to a decade before you start menopause and leave your period behind. This is why for some women perimenopause is more difficult to deal with than menopause.
Fact #3 — You can get pregnant during your period.
This high school backseat myth perpetuated by men needs to go away — you can still get pregnant during your period. You may ovulate before your period is over or at least within a few days after the bleeding stops. There can be a dangerous overlap here because sperm can live in your body for up to three days after sex. That overlap, you guessed it, can result in conception.
Fact #4 — There is more out there than tampons and pads.
Most women simply choose between tampons or pads, usually depending on how heavy their bleeding is. But there are other potential options for dealing with your bleeding.
A menstrual cup is a flexible cup that fits inside your vagina and collects blood during your period. Period panties are super-absorbent. On lighter days you can go it with just these panties; on heavy days you could add a tampon. These come with reusable cloth pads that can be washed and worn again.
These options can give you more time between changes. A menstrual cup can go up to 12 hours before it needs emptying, whereas your tampons need changing every four to eight hours.
At Women’s Health Medical Group we know our patients are smart, and you probably already know this stuff. If you didn’t, now you do! If you have questions or concerns about your menstrual cycle or anything else, please give us a call at (817) 346-5336.