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What Is Your Period Blood Telling You?

We all wonder sometimes, “Is my period normal?” It’s natural to wonder, especially considering the taboo around talking about menstruation. Luckily, we are here to bust that taboo! Read on for what your period blood might be telling you—we promise you will be glad to learn more.

Some quick period facts: 

• On average, a woman has thirteen periods a year…
• And 400-500 throughout her lifetime!
• A period usually lasts between three-to-seven days, meaning we are spending anywhere between 1200 and 3500 days on our periods!

For something that takes up so much of our lives, it is vital to educate ourselves about what we should expect and if certain changes should prompt us to visit the doctor.
Colour
It is totally normal for the colour of your period to vary anywhere from bright red to dark brown. Interestingly, taking hormonal contraception like the pill or long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) like the IUD can affect the colour of your period blood and give it a rust-coloured tint.
Consistency
The consistency of a period varies a lot from person to person, so there is no need to worry unless you are experiencing very large clots. Sometimes clots can be a benign symptom of a particularly heavy flow, but if you have clots larger than the size of a Euro coin you should check with your doctor to be safe.
Odour
If you notice an unusually strong odour during your period, you should definitely ask your doctor about it. An offensive smell could be a sign of a sexually transmitted infection and would require immediate care.
Flow
You are the best person to know what your normal flow is like, and looking out for deviations from your own “normal” will help alert you to changes in your health. An unusually heavy or light flow is not something to worry about, but if the change becomes sustained then you should check with a doctor to make sure nothing else is affecting your period.
For example, taking hormonal contraception could lead to a lighter flow, especially if you have just switched to hormonal LARC, and that is totally normal. If you have not switched contraception methods, though, it might be a sign of a thyroid imbalance or a nutritional deficiency and you should ask your doctor.
A super heavy period could be caused by switching to a copper IUD, but it could also be a sign that you have a polyp or fibroid, which are benign growths in the uterine lining. They could go away on their own, but a fibroid sometimes requires medication and it is better to err on the side of caution and ask a doctor. In severe cases, an unusually heavy flow could be a sign of a serious condition like tumors in the cervix or uterus or endometriosis.
Spotting
Some spotting is normal, especially if you are on hormonal contraception, but sometimes spotting can be caused by larger problems. If you are experiencing frequent problems, it could be a sign of a hormonal imbalance, infection, extreme stress, or in rare cases cancer. Definitely ask your doctor if you have sustained spotting to be sure there isn’t something going on behind the scenes.

Keeping an eye out for changes to your cycle can help you stay on top of your health. Experiencing a small change is not usually something to freak out about, but if a deviation continues for a sustained amount of time then you should seek advice from a professional. At the end of the day, you are the most attuned to your body and are the best person to know if something is unusual or worth consulting a doctor.

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