Many of us didn’t get much menstrual education beyond July Blume's book "Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret."
Even as we've gotten older, some of us still don't know much more about this monthly miracle than the fact that it has an uncanny ability to arrive just when we wish it wouldn’t.
Aren’t we supposed to know how our periods work by the time we are women?
Women have an estimated 450 periods during their lifetimes. Whether it’s your first period or your four hundredth, there is no shame in admitting you don’t know everything.
In fact, a Chinese proverb says, “He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever.”
Let’s all collectively get out of our fool-dom by starting the conversation with our doctors, who know a lot more about female anatomy than most of us could fit into our craniums.
In the meantime, here are answers to six questions you may have had.
1) Why is my period getting heavier as I am getting older?
“The main reason periods are heavier or lighter is hormones,”wrote Dr. Molly O’Shea, pediatrician. “When you are first starting out with your period, you may or may not have high enough levels of the hormones that trigger the uterine lining to thicken up. Once you have had your period for a few years, these hormones are at your ‘normal’ adult levels, and your periods will be heavy or light depending on who you are. As women get near menopause, the hormone levels get really wacky again and some cycles can be super heavy while others are light.”
The older you get, the more your body figures out where it needs to be. What is normal for you might be irregular for someone else, which is why the meaning of the words “irregular period” are entirely dependent on the history of your cycle.
2) Can I do anything about my menstrual cramps?
The short answer is, “It depends.”
If your menstrual cramps are getting worse with age, it is advisable to see a doctor who may discover identifiable problems such as endometriosis or uterine fibroids.
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3) Diseases and conditions: Menstrual cramps. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
4) Menstrual pain. University of Maryland Medical Center. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
5) The Facts About Irregular Periods. Everyday Health. Retrieved 20 June 2016.
6) Putting Off Periods. The Pros and Cons of Fooling Mother Nature. U By Kotex. Retrieved 20 June 2016.
7) Rae, Kate. Your Period After Baby. Today’s Parent. Retrieved 20 June 2016.
8) Understanding Toxic Shock Syndrome: The Basics. WebMD. Retrieved 20 June 2016.
9) A confirmed case of toxic shock syndrome associated with the use of a menstrual cup. US National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health. Retrieved 20 June 2016.