Worried about Two Periods in One Month?

The menstrual cycle is an interesting biological function which many women know very little about. Because of this lack of knowledge, many women will totally panic if they experience what appears to be two menstrual cycles in one month. Let me be clear: Bleeding in this manner twice in one month can be a symptom of a larger problem, but that is not necessarily the case. I’m not going to present a lecture on menstruation (normal or otherwise); I’m just going to share a tiny bit of information many women are not aware of. And yes, I have experienced this (and yes, it can be scary as hell), but only once.

Hormonal Precision

Your menstrual cycle is governed by several hormones, all of which would need to be functioning fairly perfectly in order to have a perfectly routine cycle. Stress, diet and other factors affect these hormones and their production, and, when you encounter extreme stress of any kind, mental or physical, you can alter the production of these hormones to the point the process gets interrupted. Think of it like having a padlock with several sliding pegs that need to be perfectly lined up before you can open the lock – if 1 peg is slightly out of place, the lock won’t open. Your hormones are really that precise and if one of them gets fickle, it will create a change in your menstrual cycle. And, if the hormone gets fickle enough, it can really disturb it to point you might even appear to skip it altogether.

Hormonal Imbalance

Most women are pretty capable of dealing with emotional crises, but there are times when some emotions are just too overwhelming and the body’s hormones get thrown out of whack. If this happens (think depression, loss in the family, job stress, etc.), you could experience a number of changes in your cycle, including having two periods or two menstrual cycles in one month. Estrogen is the main reason the uterine lining builds up, and (lack of) progesterone is the main reason the uterine lining sheds. For example: If stress causes you to stop producing adequate levels of progesterone during your cycle, the lining of your uterus will keep on thickening until those cells start to break down on their own, which will likely lead to heavy, irregular bleeding.

Faux Rebooting of the Menstrual Cycle

When the menstrual cycle is interrupted by a hormonal imbalance and bleeding stops after a few days, the blood you would have shed doesn’t just disappear into thin air. Therefore, if you experience a drop in progesterone several days after the shedding process has been paused, you would start bleeding again. Imagine that your cycle was interrupted during the 5th or 6th day of bleeding and you normally bleed for 7 or 8 days. Now imagine that your hormonal imbalance keeps both your estrogen and progesterone levels up (encouraging the building of lining whilst preventing shedding) for a week or so. When those progesterone levels start to come down, you will start to menstruate again; and, if that estrogen caused your lining to build up sufficiently in the meantime (particularly if your FSH levels induced a second ovulation), you could have a full 8 more days of bleeding to do until the lining is fully shed. That’s “two periods” in one month, right there, with no real cause for alarm.

Is this unhealthy or abnormal?

It's certainly not something most women will experience more than once or twice; but that doesn't mean you're unhealthy if you do -- talk to your doctor to determine what is normal for you body, cos we are all a bit different. If you’re a teenage girl, your body is still sorting itself out and this type of thing isn’t at all uncommon.

If, however, you experience this over two consecutive months, (or several times in a year) you should see your gynecologist. And, of course, if you’re also experiencing abnormally bad cramps, abnormally heavy bleeding, pain of any sort or an unusual odor, you should see your gynecologist immediately, regardless of how often you’ve experienced this.

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