A range of factors may trigger an early period. If this occurs every once in a while it is usually no cause for concern, as menstrual cycle variations are common.
Early periods are often the result of hormonal changes, especially during puberty and perimenopause.
There are also many underlying medical conditions which can cause menstrual irregularities.
This article will outline many early-period causes, as well as their symptoms and treatments.
Puberty refers to the time teenagers reach sexual maturity.
The female body starts producing hormones during puberty, primarily oestrogen and progesterone, which promote the physical changes that are often associated with the transition to maturity.
Such changes include:
- an increase in height and weight
- increased fat storage in the buttocks, legs, and hips
- enlarged breast tissue
- increased hair growth on the arms, legs, armpits, and pubic area
- skin changes, such as elevated oil production, blemishes, and acne
The hormonal changes during puberty prepare the female body for reproduction while causing physical changes.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) states that women experience their first periods, on average, between the ages of 12 and 13.
The normal menstrual cycle lasts about 28 days but some people have 21–45-day periods.
A person’s cycles may be irregular for at least the first 6 years of having periods.
Puberty is a natural process. Usually, medical intervention is not necessary.
However, doctors may recommend hormonal therapy when females enter puberty very early or very late.
If a doctor believes that there is a problem associated with the onset of puberty, they should examine the medical history of the child.
They may also do a physical examination and conduct laboratory tests, including blood and imaging tests.
When to see a doctor
Parents and carers may want to seek medical advice if a child has a menstrual period or exhibits other puberty features before they turn 8 year.
This can mean that a child reaches puberty earlier than they should, and physicians refer to it as “precocious puberty.” Meanwhile, female females who do not show signs of breast development by age 13 may have delayed puberty.
This can happen for a variety of reasons, including inadequate body fat, genetics and ovarian issues.
Treatments for issues related to the onset of puberty differ according to the underlying cause.
The transition to menopause, perimenopause usually begins between the ages of 47 and 51.
It may cause hormone levels, specifically oestrogen and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), to fluctuate. Several people get their cycles a few days early, because of rising FSH levels.
Throughout the process, people can usually expect lighter and less regular periods when estrogen levels fall.
Could also cause perimenopause:
- longer or shorter periods
- heavier or lighter bleeding
- vaginal dryness
- changes in libido
- hot flashes
- mood changes and irritability
- difficulty sleeping
Perimenopause refers to the time when the body transitions naturally into the menopause. It is not a health condition requiring medical treatment.
But perimenopause and menopause can cause mild to severe symptoms, and some adjustments and medical interventions can help facilitate the transition.
Below are some transition symptoms and tips for how to handle them:
- Hot flashes: Keep the bedroom cool at night, drink plenty of water, and avoid potential triggers, including caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods. Hormone therapy and some antidepressants may also help when hot flashes are severe.
- Irregular periods: Low-dose birth control pills can help stabilize erratic menstrual cycles.
- Cramps and muscle pain: Over-the-counter pain relievers can help. Also, warm compresses can relax cramping muscles in the stomach and back.
- Vaginal dryness: Lubricants and vaginal moisturizers can help.
A doctor can tell if a person enters perimenopause by examining their medical history and probably doing a couple of routine testing.
They’ll inquire about the date and symptoms of the person’s last time.
To rule out medical problems with symptoms similar to those of perimenopause, the doctor may ask for blood samples to determine the hormone levels, thyroid function and lipid profile of the patient.
When to see a doctor
For any shifts in a menstrual cycle see a specialist. Persons currently experiencing perimenopause should also inform their physicians if they experience:
- heavy bleeding that soaks through a pad or tampon in under 2 hours
- blood loss that exceeds 80 milliliters
- new or worsening symptoms, particularly if any interfere with daily life
- pain or bleeding during or after sex
Some sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can cause vaginal bleeding or spotting between periods, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis.
Such bacterial infections, however, do not always cause symptoms. If people have signs, they usually include:
- yellow discharge from the vagina or urethra
- frequent urination
- pain during sex or while urinating
- rectal bleeding or discharge
Doctors take antibiotics to treat these STIs. The right type and dose depends on the illness that underlies it.
A individual will undergo testing at a doctor’s office or clinic for common STIs.
Doctors screen for gonorrhea and chlamydia using urine samples or vaginal swabs, whereas checking for syphilis includes blood samples.
If a doctor believes the infection has spread to the central nervous system, then the cerebrospinal fluid may also be examined.
When to see a doctor
ACOG suggests that women under 25 and all others with a higher risk of infection undergo tests for gonorrhea and chlamydia.
Factors of risk to an STI include:
- not using condoms consistently
- having a current or previous STI
- having multiple sexual partners
- having a sexual partner who has more than one sexual partner
- having sex with someone who has an STI
If a person notices any symptoms of STI they should see a doctor immediately.
When a fertilized egg sticks to the lining of the uterus, light bleeding or spotting may occur. It usually happens 1–2 weeks after conception, and a couple of days earlier than expected.
Implant bleeding appears even darker than a normal cycle, because the blood lasts longer in the body.
Other symptoms of bleeding from the implantation may include:
- abdominal cramps
- sore or tender breasts
- changes in body temperature
Implantation typically takes place about 6–10 days after ovulation, and should begin just before menstruation.
People who experience light bleeding before expecting their periods may wish to take a home pregnancy test once the bleeding has stopped.
When to see a doctor
People should report any irregular bleeding or spotting to a physician and seek medical attention immediately if they experience:
- excessively heavy or long-lasting periods
- severe menstrual cramps
- pain in the abdomen, lower back, or pelvis
- increased urination
- pain during or after sex
Medical professionals use the term “miscarriage” to refer to a pregnancy loss occurring 20 weeks ago.
Pregnancy loss can cause the following:
- spotting or heavy vaginal bleeding
- clot-like discharge from the vagina
- pain in the abdomen or lower back
The body expels placental tissue through the womb when there is a pregnancy loss.
A doctor can perform a pelvic exam to see if any of this tissue has remained inside the body.
If a woman isn’t moving the tissue naturally, the doctor can prescribe medicine or surgery.
The doctor may also test the hormone levels of the woman and analyze a sample of her vaginal discharge, in addition to conducting a pelvic exam.
Such tests will indicate that there has been a loss of pregnancy.
When to see a doctor
See a health care provider for any symptoms of pregnancy loss.
If tissue from pregnancy remains in the uterus after such a loss, an infection can develop.
Testing for signs include:
- persistent vaginal bleeding
- severe cramps or other types of muscle pain
- foul-smelling vaginal discharge
An early period on its own doesn’t tend to indicate an issue. Nonetheless, if there are any other menstrual changes, or if a person has questions, he or she should contact a doctor.
During puberty and perimenopause, hormonal fluctuations can trigger periods to arrive sooner than expected.
Additionally, other STIs can cause vaginal bleeding between cycles, including chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis.
Implant bleeding and loss of pregnancy can also be related to menstruation, as each can include abdominal cramping and vaginal bleeding.
It is worth noting that blood from implantation could be much darker than blood from regular periods. Anyone who is uncertain may be able to confirm a home pregnancy test for the cause of the bleeding.
Placental tissue leaves the body in the form of red, clot-like discharge during pregnancy loss. Anyone who thinks he or she is experiencing this should immediately contact a doctor.