Throughout my life, I seem to have been one of those lucky women who didn’t ever get period pain.
Back at school, I never had a day off games or classes and I could never relate to my friends who had a heavy flow or craved sugar and could eat 6 bars of Dairy Milk in one sitting. In later life, I found it difficult to relate to those who had PMT and suddenly had the urge to injure their husbands!
I started my period at age 13; it’s actually quite an embarrassing story. I was at boarding school and the House that I was in had an odd policy concerning sanitary towels: no girls were allowed to use panty pads. So, when I noticed the bleeding, I rushed to the bathroom and got a tampax. I remember that I hadn’t inserted the tampon fully and it was very painful and so I ended up walking out of the bathroom and past the other girls in a most peculiar way!
When my periods finally stopped, the reality of it did hit me. I remember thinking, “Wow, it’s truly happened now.”
I started taking the pill at the age of 15 (without my parents’ knowledge) and I stayed on it until early 1999. In the spring, I fell pregnant with Anaïs. I then decided to have a Mirena coil (IUD) fitted. For me it was the best thing since sliced bread. I had a bit of spotting each month but my period was exactly 3 or 4 days (4 at the most). I had the Mirena coil for a few years. I hadn’t even noticed that my periods were coming to an end until my then-partner reminded me that I hadn’t had one for quite a few months.
At that point, I was suffering with all the other symptoms of the menopause including anxiety, foggy brain, joint pain, weight gain and night sweats. I went to a menopause clinic and was advised to take the Mirena coil out as it was no longer needed. The coil has to be replaced once every 4 years and so it was time for it to be taken out in any case.
When my periods finally stopped, the reality of it did hit me. I remember thinking, “Wow, it’s truly happened now.” I felt a tinge of sadness as even though at the age of 49 I didn’t want to have another child, the choice had been taken away from me and it was now out of my hands. I did also wonder if maybe I should have had more kids. But thinking about it now I’ve really always been content with having just one.
What Causes Irregular Periods?
Because your periods are regulated by estrogen and progesterone, the fluctuations in these hormones that begins at perimenopause will cause fluctuations in your periods. While the menopause leads to a depletion of estrogen and progesterone, this depletion doesn’t happen steadily or slowly. In the same way, the consistency of your periods will tend to vary from more frequent to rare and the flow from lighter to heavier, until they finally stop. The menopause is the exact point in your life when you have stopped having periods for a total of 12 months.
My Top Tips
Keeping a light pad or tampon in your handbag will ensure that you’re ready even when you least expect it. Sometimes after months without a period, it might be tempting to assume you’re done for good, but it’s always safer and less stressful to stay prepared.
Try and get some sleep
Your hormones are already in flux and so it’s best not to add any additional factors that will further shake them up. A good night’s sleep will do wonders to replenish your body and help lower your rate of stress and anxiety. In return, your hormones will have less reason to spike and drop, which will help regulate your period.
Drink plenty of water
Keeping hydrated ensures that your body has a fighting chance of functioning to the best of its ability. If irregular periods mean heavier or more frequent periods for you, replenishing your body with plenty of water will help to at least keep the rest of your bodily functions running as smoothly as possible.
Consider the causes
While irregular periods are common for women approaching the menopause, it is important to consider other underlying issues that may be the cause. Other causes of irregular periods include benign polyps, endometrial atrophy and endometrial hyperplasia. Consult your GP for regular check-ups.