Although the average woman has had her period for 40 years, the way she affects her body and how she feels about it often changes with age. As with anything else related to health, a menstrual cycle is not static. it develops over the course of a woman’s life.
How does our period change with age?
Dr. Heather Bartos, a gynecologist who founded Badass Woman and Badass Health and was a member of HealthyWomen’s Women’s Health Advisory Board, compared the course of a woman’s period to a bell curve.
“For many women, our cycle starts irregular, heavy and very convulsive; normalizes more as we look into our 30s; and then returns to its pubescent misery (now perimenopause) when we turn 51, the average age of menopause this country, “explained Bartos, adding that every woman is unique.
When a teen is getting their period for the first time, it may be impossible to deal with because young women tend to have irregular cycles.
As women hit their 20s and 30s, their hormones balance out, which generally results in a more predictable menstrual cycle. At this point in time, lifestyle factors or health conditions can affect the regularity and flow of a period.
For example, birth control pills affect hormones that can cause menstrual changes, such as: B. lighter periods. Uterine changes that occur during pregnancy can lead to heavier or lighter periods in some mothers, and conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or endometriosis can also cause irregular periods.
When women reach their 40s and 50s, they enter perimenopause, the transition into menopause. During this phase, which lasts about four years for most women, a woman’s estrogen fluctuates and eventually decreases. Your PMS symptoms may get worse, your periods may become heavier or easier, and you may experience irregular, prolonged, or even skipped periods.
How does our perception of our periods change with age?
Periods can seem overwhelming at first – not just physically but psychologically, especially for young women who live in an environment where they feel ashamed of their periods. For some women, aging can mean that viewing periods are less of a disruption than an indicator of health and wellbeing.
“As a teenager, I saw it as the end of the world since I was really active. Today I see it as a way to measure my health. My periods give me insight into what is going on in my body. I am grateful “said Diana, 36, a lawyer.
“I was always upset about my period until I tried to father my son,” said Jenni, 28, a blogger. “It was actually a beautiful moment in my life because not only did I learn more about my cycle, but I also felt I could rely on my body. Since conceiving my son, I now trust and appreciate my period they actually. “
As women approach perimenopause and menopause, their views on periods may change again.
“Period is the way our body releases tissues that it no longer needs to prepare us for pregnancy. Menopause is the way nature releases excess baggage that we’ve been harboring for years, and us prepare for the next part of our lives, “said Carren Strock. 70, an author and artist.
According to Bartos, some women are tired of periods by their mid 40s and look forward to the freedom from them that comes with menopause. But Strock believes that other women may look wistfully towards the end of their period and menstrual cycle.
Curse or blessing?
Women have menstruated since the beginning of time, but periods were long considered taboo. This idea lasted for centuries, but attitudes are changing. Many women reject the shame associated with periods by finding ways to celebrate their periods.
“I see more and more mother characters and daughters celebrating it in a meaningful way – a ladies’ night in, a slumber party or just a homemade mani-pedi,” said Bartos.
Some women use self-care rituals during their period. Diana makes a point of eating healthy, drinking more water, and making her periods as easy as possible.
“I meet Aunt Flo halfway through drinking herbal teas just before and during her arrival. I also wear warm clothes to relax my uterine muscles for an even menstrual flow,” said Leda Toussaint, 33, owner of a personal care company that emphasizes transparency in women’s care and produces all natural and organic women’s products.
It was only relatively recently that society stopped talking about periods in quiet tones. In 1972 the National Association of Broadcasters lifted the ban on advertising sanitary ware on television or radio. Years later, much of the advertising centered around the reality of menstruation. The word “period” wasn’t even uttered in a television commercial until Courtney Cox broke the barrier in 1985, but advertisers continued to use blue liquid on plumbing products until 2018.
Bartos believes that the increase in mothers and daughters talking about periods, along with the increase in female gynecologists, is changing the conversation about periods. Younger women and men are also actively working to end the stigma of menstruation.
“I love the period positive businesses that have sprung up – the menstrual cups, the contemporary panties and swimsuits, and the way we can now talk about periods in a fun, carefree way. No silent shame years ago,” said Bartos.
Period activism has also increased recently. From organizations like The Homeless Period Project, which collects toiletries for the homeless, to public awareness campaigns aimed at providing free sanitary products in schools, people are breaking the stigmatizations and barriers associated with periods in novel ways.
A tremendous number of women spend most of their lives on periods, and the physical characteristics of those periods, as well as women’s attitudes towards them, change throughout their lives. As society ages, so do our collective views about menstruation, enabling women to experience less stigma and embarrassment.
* Diana and Jenni asked us not to use their last names to protect their privacy.