Aunt Flo knocking on your door earlier than expected is confusing and frustrating. It can lead you to asking a few questions about why your period came earlier and find the nearest store (or person) that has tampons or pads. Below are the 14 possible causes for your regular period to start early.
Having your period unexpectedly is already stressful enough. However, research does show that stress can cause an early or late period. This is because of changes in your hormones when you experience a lot of anxiety or if you are going through a traumatic event. These changing hormone levels can trigger abnormal menstruation.
Try reflecting on the previous days or weeks. Did you experience a lot of stress at work or in your personal life?
2. Changes in routine
Your typical cycle is significantly affected by the changes in your routine, too. Did you change your work schedule or go on a long holiday? These kinds of changes can disrupt the rhythm of your body, especially the one affecting your menstrual cycle.
Some say that your circadian rhythm, which regulates your wake-sleep cycle, is affected by the changes in your routine and the production of melatonin. However, further research must be done to study the connection between the two.
3. Fluctuations in weight
Weight gain or loss also causes fluctuations with your menstrual cycle. If you changed your diet, gained weight, or had rapid weight loss, these might cause your regular menstrual cycle to be weeks early.
Drastic loss or gain of weight can affect your hormone levels and your body might prioritize other basic needs before your menstrual cycle. For example, if you are taking in less food, your body will save up its energy for important life functions like breathing.
Aside from your diet regimen, you should also understand your exercise routine and how it affects your hormones. Intense exercise can affect when your period comes, and this is mostly seen with athletes who train for several hours every day.
It is important to know that exercise only affects your period if you burn more calories than you consume, thus having limited energy and causing irregular periods.
5. Puberty and Perimenopause
If you are 8 to 13 years old, this applies to you. During the first few years after you get your first period, your hormones are still all over the place, thus causing a lot of period irregularities. This might mean a shorter or a longer time in between your periods. Other changes include hair growth, pimples, mood swings, and changes in your breasts.
On the other hand, if you are in your mid or late 40s, you might be experiencing perimenopause. This is the time wherein the eggs in your ovaries are less and are of poor quality. Perimenopause usually lasts for 4 years and leads to menopause. This can lead to heavier or lighter periods, missed periods, vaginal dryness, hot flashes, and irritability. Lastly, during this time, a late or early period can occur because there is less progesterone produced.
Early periods can also mean spotting or implantation bleeding. That is, the fertilized egg attaches itself in to your uterus lining, causing some light bleeding. Spotting usually lasts 1 to 2 days and has a lighter flow. Its color may be light pink or brown.
If you think you are pregnant, it would be helpful to buy some pregnancy tests.
On the other hand, early periods can also mean a missed miscarriage. It happens in 10% to 15% of pregnancies, and some women may not even know they were pregnant. It’s nature’s way of stopping a pregnancy if it is not developing well.
A miscarriage could cause heavy flow, pain in the lower back or abdomen, blood clots, and bits of tissue. If you think that this could be the reason behind your early period, you should consult a doctor.
8. Blood-thinning medication
Anticoagulants can also cause an early period and a heavier flow. The body naturally produces blood thinners to help with the shedding of the lining in your uterus, so if you also take some medication, it could speed up the process.
Sexually-transmitted infections could also cause spotting during your menstrual cycle. Some of the common STIs that cause this are chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. There are usually no other symptoms aside from bleeding. These could cause pain during sex or when urinating, a yellow discharge, and abdominal pain. If you are sexually active or have unprotected sex, testing regularly would help ease your worries and prevent further serious infections.
10. Birth control pills and Emergency Contraception
If you take hormonal birth control pills or emergency contraception, it could disrupt your menstrual cycle. Your cycle can be affected depending on the timing of your birth control pill intake. If you have a copper IUD or took the Depo-Provera shot, your body will take some time to adjust, resulting in irregular cycles and bleeding.
If you recently took an emergency contraception pill, it would also disrupt your cycle. This EC pill stops ovulation so that fertilization will not occur and this process can cause earlier or later periods.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) can also cause irregular periods. It is caused by hormonal imbalance and affects 1 out of 10 females. Aside from irregular or missed periods, it can also cause excessive hair growth, acne, and weight gain. Women usually don’t know they have PCOS until they find difficulty in getting pregnant.
This is a condition wherein the lining that usually forms inside the uterus grows outside in areas like the ovaries, abdomen, and bowel. It affects women from ages 15 to 44, but is more common for women between ages 30 to 40. It can cause heavy bleeding, severe menstrual cramps, lower back pain, severe pain during or after sex, bleeding between periods, spotting, and irregular periods.
Women who have not given birth yet or experience shorter menstrual cycles (27 days or less) are more susceptible to this condition. The chances also increase if a family member already has it.
Untreated diabetes could also cause irregular periods. Research shows that women with type 2 diabetes had irregular periods before being diagnosed. It makes cycles a bit more complicated since the production of sugar is higher before menstruation.
Some other symptoms of diabetes include thirst, weight loss, slow healing of wounds, and an increase in urination, especially at night.
14. Thyroid disease
The thyroid is responsible for releasing hormones vital to different bodily functions, including your menstruation. The effects depend on whether your thyroid is underactive or overactive.
Overactive thyroid can cause absent or infrequent periods, while underactive thyroid can cause heavy, absent or irregular periods.
Some symptoms of a thyroid condition aside from irregular cycles include periods that are lighter or heavier, a faster or slower heart rate, difficulty in sleeping, and weight gain or loss.
Tips for managing your period
An irregular period is something that a lot of women experience at any given time, so it is best to manage it when it happens to you!
It is important to log and keep track of all the different changes in your menstrual cycle. If you have an irregular cycle now, track that and see if the trend continues with your next period. Some apps can help you so that you have a reference for it that you can share with your doctor if needed.
Prepare for it
There is nothing more frustrating than getting your period and not having tampons or pads with you. Always keep a stash of them in your bag at all times.
Eat, exercise, and sleep better
Lifestyle changes really help.
Always remember to have a balance of proper diet and exercise so that you have enough energy for all the important functions of your body.
Getting good quality sleep is essential, too! Try sleeping for 8 hours a day and sleeping in a dark and quiet environment.
Self-care is key to helping you deal with negative emotions and de-stress. Try finding different activities that help you to relax and always have time for them.
You might be surprised that your last period is not the same as your current period but irregular periods happen to many women. These are all the possible causes of early menstruation, but of course, you are the one that knows your body the best! So, if you are feeling incapacitated by the pain you get from your periods, have early periods more often, or are experiencing any alarming symptoms, it is best to see a doctor to get immediate medical attention.