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Deep Dive: the Menstrual Cycle

Nurse’s Corner: Deep dive into a woman’s menstrual cycle.

Hey there! Welcome to Nurse’s Corner. I’m here to chat with you about all things related to your menstrual cycle. Here at ThriVe+, we’re pro-woman. That means we empower women like you with the info you need to feel confident about your health. We’re a safe place. There are no dumb questions here! So good for you, you’re equipping yourself with a deeper knowledge of your body! Let’s dive into some of the most common questions!

How long does a normal menstrual cycle last? How do I know if I’m irregular?

A normal menstrual cycle can range from 21 to 35 days — and last for 2 to 7 days. For the first several years after you start getting your period, it’s common to have longer cycles. You’re considered irregular if your cycle length keeps changing (your periods come much closer together or farther apart than usual).1 To keep track, you can use a period tracking app. It can be super helpful in learning your patterns and understanding your cycle better.

Girl-feeling-uncomfortable-with-cramps-during-her-cycle

Why do I get cramps during my period? How can I manage my symptoms?

Cramps happen because your uterus is contracting to help shed its lining.2 To manage these cramps, you can try over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen, applying heat with a warm bath or a heating pad, doing some gentle exercise, and practicing relaxation techniques.3 If your cramps are severe, it’s a good idea to talk to a healthcare provider.2 It might be a sign of conditions like endometriosis or fibroids or  pelvic inflammatory disease, or an infection caused by an STD2 You deserve to feel comfortable during your period, so please get checked out by your doctor if you think something is off.

Can I get pregnant during any time in my cycle?

While you’re most likely to get pregnant if you have sex during ovulation, sperm can live inside your body for up to five days.4 So, as long as the sperm is alive and an egg is ready, it’s possible to get pregnant. Understanding your cycle can help you better understand your body. Postponing sex for now is the best way to keep your future and your health predictable.

Help! I missed my period. What can I do?

If you miss a period and you’re sexually active, consider taking a pregnancy test (ThriVe+ offers no-cost, lab-quality pregnancy tests!) We offer a judgment-free and peaceful environment to get tested. We offer pre-abortion screenings, too. We’re here to support you if you think you could be pregnant, no matter what. If you’ve tested and you’re not pregnant, you might wait a few cycles to see if things return to normal.5 If they don’t, or if you have other symptoms, you should talk to your doctor to rule out any underlying conditions.

I’m not pregnant. What else could cause my period to skip?

Skipping a period, known as amenorrhea, can happen for several reasons (other than pregnancy). Some reasons could be significant weight changes, eating disorders, excessive exercise, stress, hormonal imbalances like PCOS, thyroid issues, certain medications, and some medical conditions.5 It’s a good idea to talk to your doctor if you have missed multiple periods and you want answers. Your health matters.

I seem to have a LOT of bleeding on my cycle. How much bleeding is normal?

Some variation in your period flow is normal. But bleeding heavy enough to disrupt your life? That’s known as menorrhagia, and it isn’t normal.6 Do you soak through one or more pads or tampons every hour for several consecutive hours? Do you need to use double sanitary protection, or have periods that last more than a week? If you have these symptoms, you should consult a healthcare provider.

What is PMS? Can it be managed well?

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) includes physical and emotional symptoms that happen after ovulation and through the first few days of your period.7 Managing PMS can involve a healthy lifestyle: regular exercise, a balanced diet, enough sleep, and stress management. For severe PMS, medical treatments or medications may be needed.8 You can talk to your doctor if you’d like more support for PMS.

Is there anything I shouldn’t do on my period?

There used to be old wives tales (false info) about certain things you shouldn’t do on your period. But generally, you can continue your normal activities during your period. You should always listen to your body and rest if you feel tired. Some women may experience heightened sensitivity or discomfort. If that’s the case for you, just try to take things easy.

Your-lifestyle-can-help-you-feel-great-throughout-your-cycle

Can my lifestyle impact my cycle?

Absolutely! Lifestyle factors such as stress, diet, exercise, and body weight can all influence your menstrual cycle.5 Extreme stress or significant changes in body weight can lead to you missing your period or having irregular cycles.5 On the flip side, a balanced lifestyle is good for your overall health, including your cycle! 8

If I have an STD, could that affect my cycle?

Some STDs can cause changes in menstrual bleeding or cycle regularity. It’s not super common, though. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), often caused by untreated STDs, can lead to irregular periods and other symptoms.1 If you suspect an STD or infection, it’s crucial to get tested and treated promptly. ThriVe+ offers no-cost STD testing, so you can get the care you need without worry.

Remember, we’ve got your back, girl. If you have any concerns or questions about your sexual health, ThriVe+ is here to help with quality services at no cost. You’re not alone in this. 

Sources:

1https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/womens-health/in-depth/menstrual-cycle/art-20047186 

2https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menstrual-cramps/symptoms-causes/syc-20374938

3https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menstrual-cramps/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20374944

4https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/getting-pregnant/expert-answers/pregnancy/faq-20058504

5 https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/amenorrhea/symptoms-causes/syc-20369299

6 https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menorrhagia/symptoms-causes/syc-20352829

7https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/premenstrual-syndrome/expert-answers/pmdd/faq-20058315

8https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/premenstrual-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20376780 

9 https://mcpress.mayoclinic.org/pregnancy/your-diet-and-its-effects-on-your-fertility/

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