- There are some common changes 30-somethings experience—think babies and nixing birth control—that can affect menstrual cycles.
- Certain health conditions may pop up around this age that can influence your cycle.
- There are several gynecological conditions that tend to be diagnosed in women who are in their late 20s and 30s, such as endometriosis.
Congrats on turning 30! You’ve officially figured out that nobody owes you anything and asking for help doesn’t mean you’re weak. Maybe you’ve settled into your career or have started your own venture. Whatever it may be, life seems to be falling into place. Except no one told your period...
According to Dr. Lauren Streicher, a Chicago-based OB/GYN and author of Sex Rx-Hormones, Health, and Your Best Sex Ever, for most women, menstruation should be pretty predictable and consistent in this decade. That being said, there are some common changes 30-somethings experience—think babies and nixing birth control—that can affect menstrual cycles. Additionally, certain health conditions may pop up around this age that can influence your cycle.
Let’s get more informed about your 30-something flow. Read on to learn about the changes experts say you may experience.
Seemingly Heavier Periods
Your 30s upgraded your flow from a stream to a rushing river, and you’re wondering why. Many factors can contribute to a heavier period, but the most common culprit is stopping hormonal birth control. When you take hormonal contraceptives, the connection between your brain and your reproductive system is shut down so that you no longer ovulate.
When you stop this type of medication, your body has to figure out how to manage this connection again, sending you through what can only be described as a second puberty (even if not medically accurate). The good news here is this is not something you should suffer through alone. Diet, exercise, and herbal supplements can help you navigate this change gracefully.
Light or Missed Periods
Switch to a different form of birth control? This may be affecting your period. "Switching from one birth control method to another can definitely impact a woman’s period," says Dr. Nita Landry, OB/GYN and co-host of The Doctors. "Some birth control methods result in lighter or even non-existent menstrual periods while other birth control methods are associated with heavier menstrual periods." Any major changes shouldn’t be cause for concern as this may be why.
Seemingly Irregular Periods
Celebrating a new baby? Your period might be, too. Having a baby causes a change in your body that can make your periods irregular. "It can take time for things to get back to normal, especially if you're breastfeeding," says Landry. Once again, no need to worry. If you have any post-pregnancy questions, talk with your doctor to get the facts.
Super Painful Periods
Not everything can get better with age. According to Williams, there are several gynecological conditions that tend to be diagnosed in women who are in their late 20s and 30s, such as endometriosis (when the lining of your uterus grows outside the uterus walls) and uterine fibroids (noncancerous growths within the uterus).
"These conditions can be associated with menstrual changes," she says. "For example, women with fibroids may complain of heavy and painful periods; whereas, endometriosis is marked by long-standing pelvic pain that is often made worse by the monthly menstrual cycle." Having intense pain with your period? It might be time to speak with your doctor about how to alleviate these symptoms.
More responsibility, more problems. Your 30s can bring some major life changes—from new babies to longer work hours—and, thus, more stressors. Coincidentally, stress affects your period.
"Good and bad stress will change your period ... depending on how you personally cope," says doctor of Chinese Medicine and AZCIM Certified Integrative Medical Practitioner, Dr. Elizabeth Trattner. She says if you're not using healthy methods to cope with this new stress—eating nutritious foods and moving as much as possible—period issues (like bad cramps) can get worse. And no one wants that!
A Halt to Your Period While Breastfeeding
"Having a baby and breastfeeding will change your period," says Trattner. "It may not even show up for a few months after breastfeeding due to the change in hormones." Frustrating, right? Still, there is nothing to worry about; it’s totally normal.
Longer Menstrual Cycles
"In a woman’s 30s, both age and hormonal fluctuations can lead to menstrual irregularity or lengthening of the time between periods," says board-certified OB/GYN Dr. Carolyn Alexander of Southern California Reproductive Center (SCRC). "Evaluation for PCOS is ... important especially if any symptoms of [excessive] hair growth, hair loss, or insulin resistance. Some women can experience hot flashes or night sweats which is also very important to get evaluated especially if the menstrual cycle starts spacing out." If these symptoms pop up, you may want to discuss them with your doctor.
Less Painful Periods After Giving Birth
Having a baby has its perks (in addition to a fresh, loving child, of course!). That includes less period pain. It’s true - some women report having less period pain after having a baby. "This is usually because the cervix has expanded and will allow for blood to flow with less need for uterine contractions," says health and wellness expert Caleb Backe of Maple Holistics. Some also speculate that less painful periods after giving birth may be due to fewer prostaglandin receptor sites in the uterus.
Shorter Menstrual Cycles
“In a woman’s later-30s, her period cycle may become shorter (rather than 29 to 30 days, it might be 25 or 26 days)," says Dr. Prudence Hall, author of Radiant Again & Forever. "This is the first indication of perimenopause ... As we age and go into perimenopause, our hormone levels start to decrease. The cycle is run by a set amount of estrogen and progesterone and as you age, that cycle might decrease, since the hormones are decreasing. Your late 30s are when your hormone levels start to noticeably decrease."
Increased PMS Symptoms
Growing up is hard. It’s hard on your period, too. As you flow into your 30s, your PMS symptoms may start to get worse. "PMS increases in a woman’s early or late 30s due to dropping estrogen," says Hall. This means you may experience more symptoms (think crankiness, tiredness, and bloating).
Changes to your flow can be due to hormonal changes, lifestyle changes, pregnancy, and certain health issues—all of which are common among women in their 30s. By paying attention to your body, and seeing a doctor when necessary, you can enjoy a healthier, more predictable cycle for years to come.
And Elix is always here to help.
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