Periods are an important part of many women’s lives and they can be a source of worry and confusion when the timing is off. Experiencing an early period can be stressful, but it’s important to understand why it happens and what to do about it. In this article, we’ll discuss the possible causes of an early period as well as tips for managing it.
What is Menstrual Cycle
The menstrual cycle, or period, is the monthly process in which a woman’s body prepares for the possibility of pregnancy. The average menstrual cycle lasts between 21 and 35 days, with most women having it every 28 days.
The normal duration of a menstrual cycle is usually between 21 and 35 days, with most women having it every 28 days. The duration of each cycle can vary from month to month for each individual, and even for the same woman from one cycle to the next.
What is considered an early period?
Definition of an early period
An early period occurs when a woman’s menstrual cycle begins earlier than it normally does. A normal menstrual cycle is usually between 21 and 35 days in length, with most women having it every 28 days. An early period is considered to be any time the menstrual cycle starts before day 21 or more than 7 days earlier than the average for that individual.
How to track menstrual cycle
Tracking your menstrual cycle is an effective way to better understand your body and know when to expect your period. Keeping track of the start date, duration, and flow of each menstrual cycle can help you spot patterns and potential irregularities in your periods.
Possible causes of an early period
1. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that affects approximately 10% of women of reproductive age and is the most common cause of an early period. PCOS is caused by hormonal imbalances, including an excess of male hormones such as testosterone, which can interfere with the normal functioning of the ovaries and lead to the development of small cysts on the ovaries. This can cause changes in a woman’s menstrual cycle, including an early period.
2. Thyroid disorders
Thyroid disorders can also be a cause of an early period. Thyroid disorders, such as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, involve an imbalance in the production of hormones that regulate the body’s metabolism and other functions. These hormone imbalances can affect the menstrual cycle and lead to an early period.
Stress and lifestyle factors
1. High levels of stress
High levels of stress can be a major factor in causing an early period. Stress activates the body’s fight-or-flight response, resulting in the release of hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline which can disrupt the normal functioning of the reproductive system and lead to an early period.
2. Extreme exercising or sudden changes in physical activity
Extreme exercising or sudden changes in physical activity can also cause an early period. The body requires a certain amount of energy to carry out the necessary functions for a regular menstrual cycle, and extreme exercising or sudden changes in physical activity can place extra strain on the body and lead to an early period.
3. Poor nutrition and diet
Poor nutrition and diet can be a contributing factor to an early period. Not getting enough of the essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that are necessary for proper hormonal balance can cause menstrual irregularities such as an early period.
Medications and medical conditions
1. Birth control pills and other hormonal medications
Birth control pills and other hormonal medications can be a cause of an early period. Birth control pills, patches, injections, and rings contain hormones that are designed to prevent pregnancy by preventing ovulation or changing the lining of the uterus. These hormones can also affect the menstrual cycle and cause irregularities such as an early period.
2. Uterine fibroids or polyps
Uterine fibroids and polyps are noncancerous growths that can develop in the uterus and can cause an early period. Uterine fibroids are solid, muscular tumors that grow in the wall of the uterus and can range from the size of a pea to larger than a grapefruit.
When to be concerned about an early period
Irregular periods can be a sign of an underlying health issue and should not be ignored. Women who experience frequent or irregular periods, such as an early period, should seek medical attention to ensure that any underlying medical condition is addressed and treated appropriately.
Frequent or very heavy bleeding
Frequent or very heavy bleeding can be a sign of an underlying medical condition and should not be ignored. Women who experience frequent or very heavy bleeding, such as an early period, should seek medical attention to ensure that any underlying medical condition is identified and treated appropriately.
Severe pain or other symptoms
Severe pain or other symptoms can be a sign of an underlying medical condition and should not be ignored. Women who experience severe pain, cramping, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, fever, chills, or other unusual symptoms during their period should seek medical attention to ensure that any underlying medical condition is identified and treated appropriately.
When to seek medical advice
Consulting a healthcare provider
Women who experience frequent or irregular periods, heavy or severe pain during their period, or any other symptoms should seek medical advice. Consulting with a healthcare provider can help to identify possible underlying conditions and provide access to treatment if needed. It is important for women to keep track of their menstrual cycles and report any changes in their pattern to their doctor.
Recommended diagnostic tests
Women who experience frequent or irregular periods, heavy or severe pain during their period, or any other symptoms should seek medical advice and may require diagnostic testing. Common tests to diagnose underlying conditions related to an early period include blood tests, pelvic ultrasound, hysteroscopy, endometrial biopsy, and laparoscopy.
Treatment and management options
Hormonal therapy is a treatment option to manage early periods and other menstrual irregularities. This type of therapy can help to regulate hormones that can cause menstrual cycle fluctuations. Common forms of hormonal therapy used to treat early periods include oral contraceptive pills, vaginal rings, contraceptive patches, and injections.
Making lifestyle changes can help to manage early periods and other menstrual irregularities. Eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, reducing stress levels, and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption are all important steps to take in order to maintain hormonal balance. Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water is also important for overall health and managing the symptoms of an early period.
In some cases, surgical interventions may be needed to manage an early period and other menstrual irregularities. Depending on the underlying cause of the irregularity, a doctor may recommend a procedure such as a dilation and curettage (D&C), which removes the lining of the uterus or a hysteroscopy, which is an examination of the uterine cavity with a thin camera. Other surgical interventions may include endometrial ablation or hysterectomy. It is important to discuss the risks and benefits of any surgical procedure with a doctor before proceeding.
Early periods can be a symptom of an underlying medical condition and should not be ignored. Women who experience frequent, irregular, or heavy bleeding, severe pain during their period, or any other symptoms should seek medical advice from a healthcare provider. Diagnostic tests such as blood tests and pelvic ultrasounds may be necessary to identify the cause of the irregularity. Treatment options for early periods include hormonal therapy, lifestyle changes, and in some cases, surgical interventions.