Your health and your menstrual cycle

Menstrual problems can lead to other health problems, including problems getting pregnant. As your body transitions to older age and menopause, your changing hormone levels may increase or decrease your risk for chronic diseases.  Your menstrual cycle can tell you a lot about your health.  Regular periods between puberty and menopause mean your body is working normally. Period problems like irregular or painful periods may be a sign of a serious health problem


How does the menstrual cycle affect woman health?

Many period problems may lead to other health problems. Also, symptoms of other health problems might be worse or get better at certain times of your menstrual cycle.

These include:

  • Anemia. Heavy bleeding is the most common cause of iron-deficiency anemia in women of childbearing age. Anemia is a condition that happens when your blood cannot carry enough oxygen to all of the different parts of your body because it does not have enough iron. This makes you pale or feel tired or weak.
  • Asthma. Your asthma symptoms may be worse during some parts of your cycle.2
  • Depression. Women with a history of depression are more likely to have premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). Symptoms of depression may also be worse before their period for women with depression.3
  • Diabetes. Women with irregular menstrual cycles, especially those longer than 40 days, have a higher risk for type 2 diabetes. Younger women between 18 and 22 with irregular periods are even more at risk.4 Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) may be the link between irregular periods and diabetes. Most women with PCOS have problems with insulin and are at risk for type 2 diabetes.5
  • Heart disease and strokeWhen you have amenorrhea or are in menopause, your ovaries may no longer make estrogen. Estrogen protects your body in many ways, including against heart disease and stroke.
  • Osteoporosis. If you have amenorrhea, your bones might be at risk. Without estrogen from your ovaries, you lose bone mass, which puts you at risk for osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition that causes your bones to become brittle and weak and break easily.
  • Problems getting pregnant. Some conditions that cause period problems, such as endometriosisuterine fibroids, or PCOS, can lead to infertility (problems getting pregnant).


How can I prevent problems in my menstrual cycle?

You may not be able to prevent problems in your menstrual cycle. Many period problems, such as heavy bleeding or painful periods, are caused by other problems with your reproductive system.


Sources: Your menstrual cycle and your health | Office on Women’s Health (