Period is the one thing most menstruators can count on to show up without fail each month. If it doesn’t then there might be cause for worry. Every menstruator has her own cycle and its regularity changes as she gets older. Keeping track of your period is important to understand any underlying issues that might be contributing to irregular bleeding or heavy periods.
Some of the changes you experience with age are bound to affect your period in some way or another, so it’s always good to be aware of what they could be and how to manage them accordingly. Here are five changes you may experience with age that will have an impact on your periods.
Most women experience some amount of weight gain throughout their lives, but as you get older, this can affect your menstruation cycle more drastically. A higher body mass index (BMI) (a measure of your body fat based on your height and weight) is associated with an increased risk of endometrial cancer.
However, there is also evidence to suggest that higher BMI can affect the activity of the hypothalamus-pituitary-ovarian (HPO) axis. This axis is responsible for the secretion of follicle-stimulating hormones that regulate ovulation.
As you get older, your body starts producing higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This can permanently change the way your periods flow—sometimes causing mild to severe cramping, heavy bleeding, or even both. This is normal and usually subsides after your stress hormones have worn off.
However, if you experience these symptoms consistently and for prolonged periods, you should see your doctor. Stress hormones can also affect the quality of your period blood. High cortisol levels may cause your blood to become more sticky, so it can’t flow through your veins as easily.
Fewer Ovulation Days
If you are not regularly ovulating each month, it’s more likely you will not get pregnant each month. As you get older, the amount of time it takes for your ovaries to start preparing for ovulation decreases. This can also affect your periods if you regularly miss them.
Ovarian reserve refers to the number of eggs a woman has stored in her ovaries. Women with a higher ovarian reserve are more likely to experience delayed periods.
Decreased Sensitivity To Fertilisation Indices
Sperm swimming through your uterine fluid are looking for fertilisation points—the area at the end of the cervix where they can attach to an egg and create a baby. Your cervix is the part of your uterus where the egg and sperm meet and fertilisation occurs.
As you get older, it becomes less likely that this will happen. This means your ovaries will keep producing eggs, but they’re less likely to be good enough to be fertilised. Sensitivity to fertilisation indices—measures of how well the sperm and cervical mucus are compatible—decreases as you get older.
Shorter Luteal Phase
A luteal phase is the time between ovulation and your next period. At the end of this phase, your ovary releases progesterone, which thickens the uterine wall and prepares your uterus for a possible pregnancy.
A shortened luteal phase could mean there’s too much blood in your uterine wall at the end of your cycle, causing an abnormal cramping period. As you get older, you may experience changes in your period, like having a shorter luteal phase. It’s important to be aware of these changes and be sure to contact your doctor if they cause you significant pain or irregular bleeding.
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