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COLUMN: Period problems

Periods are nature’s pregnancy test for females, but when one’s period isn’t normal, a lot of thoughts come to mind besides being pregnant.

When someone has irregular periods, it can be scary because it could mean that something is wrong with the body. That’s why a lot of women get put on birth control to regulate their periods.

Excessive exercise

When I was in high school, I was involved in track and cross country. During these sports’ seasons, I wouldn’t have my period at all, and this was caused from excessive exercise.

When a female misses her period, it’s called amenorrhea, and five to 25 percent of female athletes experience exercise-induced amenorrhea, according to Livestrong.com.

This form of amenorrhea normally occurs if the athlete has a low body fat percentage and can be reversed if the athlete increases their body weight or reduces their exercise.

However, there are also other causes for experiencing amenorrhea, and the long-term effects can be dangerous.

“Over time, the hormonal changes associated with not having a period might lead to heart disease, infertility and changes in bone density, leading to fractures,” the Livestrong article said.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

Another cause for missed periods is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, which is the most common cause for infertility in women, according to the American Diabetes Association.

Women with PCOS often don’t have periods because the follicles that hold the eggs clump together, forming cysts on the ovaries, making it hard for the follicles to break open to release the egg.

Other causes for missed periods include stress and an unhealthy diet, which is why a lot of college students might occasionally miss a period.

Endometriosis

Experiencing irregular periods could also mean having more than one period a month or extremely long periods.

This started happening to me in college, and I thought it was Mother Nature’s way of getting back at me for all of my missed periods in high school.

I was wrong.

About three years ago, I experienced the worst period of my life. This period lasted for two months straight and caused me a lot of pain. It was during this incident that I decided it was time to see a gynecologist.

It turns out that I have a disorder called endometriosis.

Endometriosis is normally passed on genetically and causes the tissue lining your uterus to grow in other places on your body, which makes for painful and excessive periods. Endometriosis also makes it extremely hard to reproduce.

From what I understand, one of the most comprehensive ways to treat endometriosis is to have a complete hysterectomy. This would involve removing the uterus, cervix and both of the ovaries.

However, if it’s a mild case of endometriosis, other precautions can be taken. In my case, for example, my doctor put me on it because birth control can help reduce the buildup of the tissue caused by endometriosis.

After about two and a half years, my doctor and I finally found a form of birth control that gives me regular periods.

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