10 Everyday Things That Can Affect Your Period
You know birth control, pregnancy, and certain health conditions can wreak havoc on your cycle, but these less suspecting culprits could be to blame too
If your period changed, became heavier, lighter, longer, or less frequent, would you notice? Paying attention to changes in your cycle provides a clue into your overall health. While some issues, such as stress, may temporarily affect your period and resolve on their own, others can indicate a more serious health problem that needs to be addressed. “I always recommend patients download a period tracker app on their phone,” says Eduardo Lara-Torre, M.D., an ob-gyn at Carilion Clinic in Virginia. “It’s important to understand what’s normal for you so you can identify when something isn’t right.” Addressing any menstrual changes early on can prevent them from getting worse so you can sail smoothly through your monthly flow.
RELATED: Your Brain On: Your Menstrual Cycle
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You’ve heard that stress can mess with your cycle. But although they’re not exactly good for you, daily hassles (you know: commuting, deadlines, presentations) are unlikely to impact your cycle. “It often takes a one-time extraordinarily stressful event to create an abnormal period,” Lara-Torre says. Think: Death of a family member, loss of your job, divorce, or illness. There may be an evolutionary explanation behind this phenomenon: When you’re focused on survival (whether the threat is a saber tooth tiger or paying your mortgage) your body and brain shut down the hormones needed to make your body ovulate in order to prevent reproduction in a threatening environment, Lara-Torre says. (Very cool.)