If your flow seems more tortoise than hare these days, and your period blood doesn't seem to be coming out "properly," you may be wondering... what’s taking so long? Whether it’s generally lighter periods or you’re convinced your blood is getting stuck on its journey somehow, we’re answering all your questions right here.
Menstruation is when the uterus lining thickens in anticipation of pregnancy. If pregnancy does not occur, your estrogen and progesterone levels fall, letting your body know it’s free to expel that excess uterine lining. It comes away from the inside of the uterus and exits the cervix and then the vagina in the form of blood and tissue. For some, there is just a little blood lasting a couple of days. For others, this could be more blood lasting up to a week.
If you’re worried that your period is getting stuck somewhere inside, this is likely not the case. Sometimes menstrual blood can be slow in moving through your system, and many people report the feeling of some sort of obstruction in the abdomen that could be delaying their flow. This seems to be a common feeling, but it is unlikely that your period blood won’t show up eventually, even if it takes a little longer.
In some cases, you could have a lighter period thanks to something called retrograde menstruation. (No, it’s nothing to do with your horoscope!) Retrograde menstruation is when blood flows through the fallopian tubes and into the peritoneum (the tissue that lines your abdominal wall) rather than through the cervix and vagina. Usually, there are no symptoms for this except possible pain during menstruation, so retrograde menstruation sounds scarier than it is. It can be associated with endometriosis, so it’s unlikely to cause you problems unless you suffer from endo.
There are a number of reasons you could be experiencing lighter periods. Here are a few of the main ones:
Having a light period doesn’t have to be a sign of something bad! Most people’s periods are around 2-3 tablespoons of blood, but light periods are often referred to as hypomenorrhea (meaning abnormally low bleeding) and this often leads to significantly less than 30mls of blood per cycle. In many cases, there could be hormonal issues behind this, so if you have gone from a normal period to a much lighter one, it’s best to check with your GP to make sure everything is A-OK. If it is, then lighter periods are nothing to worry about, as there is no correlation between lighter periods and fertility issues.
Got questions about your light periods? We’re always happy to help answer them. Join in the conversation on our Full Stop FB group, or ask us your Qs on Instagram at @itsyoppie. Don't forget that our personalised period box can get organic tampons, period cramp supplements and much more delivered easily and regularly through your letterbox, so you'll never be stuck without the essentials - whatever your flow.
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