Periods can definitely change through the menopause years, it certainly isn’t unusual, but can be concerning.
When can irregular bleeding occur?
Peri-menopause is the period of time, 4 – 10 years, before you reach menopause. Menopause is actually just one day, the day you’ve not had a period for 12 months. Anything beyond this one day is known as post menopause, no more periods! It’s during peri-menopause that your regular cycles can be disrupted due to those fluctuating hormones and a change in periods can commonly occur.
What happens to period during peri-menopause?
Basically they can become unpredictable! They may be heavier, lighter, less frequent, more frequent, and with any change you need to be reassured what can be considered normal, and when you should visit your GP. Here I explore some of the changes that can occur.
Irregular periods: as ovulation becomes more unpredictable, the length of time between periods may be longer or shorter, the flow may be lighter to heavier and some months you may not have a period at all. Note: it’s still worth checking if you could be pregnant if this happens! The longer the gap between periods, the closer you’ll be to that magic day called ‘menopause’ when you’ll be on the home run.
Abnormally heavy periods: with normal periods your body indicates a balance between the hormones oestrogen and progesterone. Very heavy periods can happen when the body has an excess of oestrogen compared to progesterone and the uterine lining builds up, quite normal as these hormones don’t fluctuate in synchrony. As a result you will lose more blood on your cycle.
What’s considered abnormally heavy bleeding? That could always depend on how your periods usually present themselves, but generally heavy bleeding is if you’re leaking through your tampon, pad or clothes; you need additional and more frequent protection; your period lasts more than 7 days.
Should you be experiencing consistent heavy bleeding there could be other reasons and you should visit your doctor. The NHS provide a great tool explaining more.
Frequently losing more blood can lead to low iron levels and fatigue, so including plenty of iron rich foods in your diet is helpful. This includes shellfish, red meats, fish, poultry, and legumes, brown rice, dried apricots, pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds, broccoli, spinach. Top Tip: To absorb the most iron from the foods you eat, avoid drinking coffee or tea or consuming foods high in calcium with meals containing iron-rich foods. To improve your absorption of iron, eat it along with a good source of Vitamin C, e.g. pure orange juice, green vegetables or fruit.
Spotting between periods: Should you notice blood in your underwear between periods, this again can be due to that dance between oestrogen and progesterone. Spotting just before a period starts, or at ovulation isn’t uncommon, but if this continues for some time you may wish to consider speaking to your doctor.
Monitoring your periods can also be helpful, and there’s a great app to help you do this: Eve
And wearing panty-liners can help protect underwear.
When to visit your doctor
Everyone is unique, and you know your body better than anyone else. Should you have ANY concerns at all about a change in your periods then do visit your GP, get the reassurance you personally need. Peri-menopause can last between 4-10 years with enough symptoms and anxieties without worrying about changes to periods!
Helping busy ladies naturally create harmony and health through the menopause years and beyond. Regain control, confidence, and be free to live the life they choose.
A full hysterectomy in her 30’s led nutritional therapist and health coach Clare on an amazing adventure exploring the many opportunities available to manage her enforced menopause and create long-term health.
Clare prefers the natural approach, and qualifying in nutritional therapy gave her the confidence to come off HRT, take back control of her life and health, and look forward to living the best third of her life free of prescription drugs. Understanding the importance of creating harmony of health of both body and mind through menopause and beyond, she’s now on a mission to inspire, educate and empower other women, too. Help them create their ‘new life’.
Click HERE to find out more about how Clare shares her years of exploring, experience and knowledge through 1:1 consultations, speaking and online programmes, and where you can request a FREE 30 minute consultation with Clare to discuss any personal menopause/health concerns you may have.
Registered Nutritional Therapist
Member of the British Menopause Society
Award winning Menopause Coach & Educator