What can your periods tell you? Is it a vital sign?

Would you find it strange/ irrelevant to discuss your period with your general physician as you go in for your yearly check-up?

How do you think you would react?

Actually, it shouldn’t be strange at all as this is THE question to be asked if you menstruate, according to new-age experts. Why? Because more and more studies are affirming that our menstrual cycle can be a good indicator of our overall health status.

Well, this fact is not very surprising because, on average, a woman menstruates for about 7 years of her life. In fact, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology considers the menstrual cycle critical to overall female health -- as we like to call it, “the fifth vital sign”.

Rightly so, we think. Come on, no one anticipated the recent reports on unusual menstrual patterns reported worldwide after COVID-19 vaccination. This is evidence enough for us to acknowledge that period can signal changes (due to internal or external reasons) in the body.

Let us decode why menstruation is given this ‘special status’ as a vital sign.

So what are vital signs?

Let’s back up a bit to understand what the other four vital signs are. Vital signs assess the status of your essential body functions and hence overall wellbeing. They help put together the story your body is telling you.

The four widely used and universally accepted vital signs are your pulse (heart rate), body temperature, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Monitoring the vital signs is important as (we have seen in diseases like COVID-19) it can help prevent misdiagnosis, detect symptom-less medical problems, and encourage us to take better care of our health.

What can our menstrual cycles tell us about our health?