All Change! Why’s my period heavy now?
No two women have the same periods, but there are some average ranges that are considered normal i.e. a menstrual cycle lasting between 21 to 35 days for adult women and a period lasting 2-7 days. You will have your own ‘normal’. This can change over time – you can monitor this using a period diary.
Your menstrual cycle is driven by hormones, of which oestrogen and progesterone are the most important. A balance of both hormones ensures that your body develops and sheds the endometrium (womb lining) every month (through your period).
Causes of change: Hormone imbalance
The biggest ‘culprits’ in a sudden change of menstrual cycle are – you guessed it – the hormones oestrogen and progesterone. There are various factors that can cause hormonal imbalances, but the most common (aside from pregnancy) are:
- (peri-)menopause – Periods become altered during the menopause, because the production of oestrogen and progesterone in your ovaries decreases. Peri-menopausal changes can cause symptoms.
- Stress – Anxiety, stress, and lack of sleep cause the body to produce the stress hormone cortisol, which disrupts the balance of hormones that affect your cycle. In addition, cortisol causes other issues (such as overweight, among other things). So ensure you get enough sleep and relaxation!
- Use of medication – some medicines affect the production of oestrogen and progesterone, which disrupts your cycle. So always read the patient information leaflet thoroughly!
- Excessive physical activity – fanatical exercising may affect the production and regulation of hormones.
- Under-eating – when your body takes in too few calories, secretion of the hormones required for ovulation is suppressed.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) – a common condition in which cysts develop on the ovaries, disrupting hormone levels. This can cause a great deal of discomfort, including an irregular cycle.
- Stopping hormonal contraception – stopping hormonal contraception such as the pill can have a huge impact, and your body sometimes needs months to regain its natural rhythm.
Other potential factors include:
- Thyroid disease
- A change of contraceptive
- Cervical cancer
Not sure what’s causing the change?
If your periods have changed and you’re not sure why, make an appointment with your GP. There are treatments available that could help treat or manage the symptoms. Naturally, a potential treatment depends entirely on the cause of your symptoms. Find out how to get the most out of your GP appointment here.