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A menstrual cycle is the length of time between the first day of a woman’s menstrual period and the first day of her next period. According to some experts, the average length of an adult woman’s menstrual cycle is between 25-30 days. An early menstrual period is an occasional occurrence for many women, but in some, it may be a regular or consistent condition caused by genetics, lifestyle, or atypical body function.
The menstrual cycle is what permits conception, and is a normally occurring process in females. During the cycle, the uterine lining thickens to allow for implantation if fertilization occurs. Around the midpoint of the menstrual cycle, an egg is released from the ovaries and remains viable for several days. If fertilization does not occur, the uterine lining sheds, causing the bleeding known as a period. The process is guided by the release of different hormones throughout the cycle, leaving it vulnerable to alteration caused by hormonal changes.
An occasional early menstrual period is often due to a change in lifestyle. Weight gain or loss, change in medication, or dietary changes are all possible factors in causing an early menstrual period. Psychological changes such as high amounts of stress, sudden depression, or trauma may also be a contributing factor to an early menstrual period. In these cases, cycle length will typically return to normal as the psychological stress subsides, but if it becomes a consistently occurring phenomenon, medical evaluation may become necessary.
Women who regularly have a short menstrual cycle typically have a physical or hormonal irregularity that causes early periods. Some doctors recommend seeking medical care if periods consistently occur less than 21 days apart. There are several known causes of an irregularly short menstrual cycle; some may be treatable through medication or lifestyle changes, but others may be more difficult to manage or correct.
Reproductive disorders can lead to an early menstrual period. In some women, a hormonal imbalance can lead to the lining of the uterus shedding before the released egg is fully developed. Other conditions, such as endometriosis, can be possible contributors to an early cycle. Women approaching menopause are also subject to frequent and unusual hormonal shifts, and may experience early periods as a result of these changes.
Early menstrual periods can make planned conception difficult, as the date of ovulation may be difficult to calculate. With certain conditions causing non-viable eggs to be released, or no egg to be released at all, some women who have an early menstrual period may not be able to conceive. Medical science and alternative medicine have some treatments that may increase or decrease hormone levels in an attempt to regulate cycles, but these are not always successful.
The summer before I registered for my final year of college, I had an all-summer babysitting job for three little boys. The twins were awful. They were nuclear disasters waiting to happen, and it was a constant fight to keep them under some kind of control.
I started bleeding all the time. It was constant. I'd finish my period, have three or four days of not bleeding, then I'd start again. I saw an OB/GYN and he basically told me it was stress, and when I finished the job, my periods would probably regulate themselves. He did put me on the pill for the last month, and it was great. It stopped the bleeding and regulated my hormones so I didn't feel so frazzled out all the time.
My periods weren't just early, but were also constant that summer.