Did your period come early? Before you start freaking out, take a few deep breaths. The human body is weird and strange, but you're not alone. This can happen to anyone who menstruates, anywhere in the world. If your period came early, there’s likely a perfectly normal explanation for it.
Still, if your period usually comes like clockwork, you become super confident in planning your life around it. If you know your period is coming in the third week of December, you know you need to plan that tropical getaway for the first or second week that month so your period doesn’t put a damper on your beach plans. But if it randomly comes earlier than usual, it not only puts a wrench in your plans, but also seriously wracks your nerves.
But you can rest easy knowing there is typically no need to worry. Dr. Leah Millheiser, MD, director of the female sexual medicine program at Stanford University Medical Center, says, often, people may be overthinking it when concerned about their period coming early. “Women have this belief that their period should be exactly 28 days [apart]... and if they deviate from that number, then there's something wrong — and that's not true,” Dr. Millheiser says.
Here are some reasons for your early period.
1. It’s not really early.
Dr. Kecia Gaither, MD, MPH, FACOG, director of perinatal services at NYC Health and Hospitals/Lincoln, previously told Elite Daily that “the length of a month is not going to change the frequency of [your period]. A normal menstrual cycle is anywhere from every 21 to 45 days, with the average being 28 days,” and it is not dependent on calendar dates, which means it’s not necessarily going to come at the same time every month.
“There are a lot of reasons to get your period early,” Dr. Millheiser adds. “Typically, you'll get your period two weeks after you ovulate. So, sometimes ovulation happens a week early.” In other words, if you ovulate a week early, your period will come a week early as well.
2. You just had an orgasm.
According to Dr. Millheiser, sometimes, when it's around the time a woman’s period is going to start and she has an orgasm, it could kickstart her period a bit early (though, Dr. Millheiser notes sex, in and of itself, shouldn't cause a period).
3. It’s not actually your period.
There are plenty of normal reasons why you may be bleeding that don’t involve having your period. For example, if you just had your period a couple weeks ago and you’re experiencing brown discharge, Dr. Millheiser says that’s probably just oxidized blood from your last period.
So, how do you discern whether you’re experiencing spotting or an early period? Dr. Millheiser says, “If it's a period, [you’ll] have a period,” to put it simply. That means, if you’re experiencing your period early, it will generally be like your other periods in terms of length of time and flow — just a little early.
4. Your period is not regular yet.
If you just started getting your period, it will take a few years for it to become regular. You may skip a month, or your period might come a little early. It can take six years or more after your period starts for your cycle to become regular.
5. You're on birth control.
Birth control has artificial hormones in it designed to make your body think it is already pregnant. This is why it's effective for preventing pregnancies.
If you just started taking the pill and are on a pill-free week, you may start bleeding. If you stopped taking the pill, the drop in hormones may also cause you to bleed. When you first get an IUD, it can make you bleed more heavily than normal, and it may make your period irregular.
6. You have a sexually transmitted infection.
When your period comes early, take note of how heavy the flow is in comparison to your other periods. You may have to wait a day or two. If the flow is normal, you probably don't have an STI. If, however, you have spotting every couple of days, regularly have spotting after sex, or your period comes every two weeks, Dr. Millheiser notes that is more concerning and could indicate an underlying issue, in which case, you should contact your doctor.
7. You've lost or gained a lot of weight.
"Human menstrual and reproductive functions are controlled primarily by the hypothalamus and pituitary glands and their input to the reproductive organs (e.g. ovaries and uterus)," Dr. Joshua Klein, chief medical officer and reproductive endocrinologist at Extend Fertility, previously told Elite Daily. "The function of the hypothalamus and pituitary are very much influenced by nutrition, metabolism, and energy availability.” Any disruption of these systems could affect your period.
8. There has been a change in your normal routine.
Any change from your normal pattern — whether you're traveling on holiday or changing how often and how long you exercise — can cause changes in hormone levels that may affect your period. Working more and not resting enough may also be reasons. Human bodies like consistency.
Even moving into your college dorm could affect your period. “If you get young women who go to college — their periods start to shift if a bunch of women are living together and none of them are on hormonal contraception,” Dr. Millheiser explains. “Eventually, their cycles will start to become in sync. So that could have an impact where your period may come earlier."
9. You have gynecological or medical conditions.
If you have any problems with your uterus or ovaries, your period may stop or become irregular. Visit a gynecologist if you're experiencing any abnormal changes.
If you've made any recent lifestyle changes and your period comes a little early, then you probably don't need to worry. In the end, “You have to think about what’s normal,” Dr. Millheiser says. “When periods come a little bit earlier, especially if it's in the context of a couple days or a week, we generally don't get concerned about that.” You generally don’t have to worry about small changes in the timing of your period unless it starts occurring more frequently than every 21 days.
Instead of being worried that your period came early, be happy your body is responding to external factors and it’s aware of what's going on in your life.
Additional reporting by Noelle Devoe.
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