When your menstrual cycle becomes heavier or lighter without explanation, it’s good to do a check in. Are there changes in your health? In your diet? While the length of a period may vary – anywhere from 3 to 5 days, it’s important to note that average blood loss is anywhere 30-40 milliliters (ml), with 9 out of 10 women losing less than 80ml, the NHS says. Meanwhile, heavy menstrual bleeding, also known as menorrhagia, is 60ml or more during a cycle. While there’s no real way to measure “heaviness,” if you track your period each month you may periodically notice a difference in flow. Here are three reasons why your period may be heavier or lighter than usual.

You’ve recently changed birth control.

If you’ve recently swapped out your old birth control for a newer method, you may notice a considerable change in your flow – likely for the heavier. This is normal, as you will need some time to adjust to new hormone levels. Meanwhile, contraceptive implants like Implanon — used by women to prevent pregnancy for up to 3 years — are often associated with considerably heavier flows both during and after your monthly visitor. Other than changes in menstrual bleeding patterns, other frequent side effects include: mood swings, sudden weight gain, headache, unsightly acne, or depression.

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