What does a 'flash period' – like Charlotte's in And Just Like That – mean?

What does a 'flash period' – like Charlotte's in And Just Like That – mean?

Amongst Carrie’s awkward rebound dates, Miranda’s sexual exploration (at the expense of Steve, but that’s by the by), and Samantha’s total absence from the series, Charlotte York-Goldenblatt remains the most steadfast character in And Just Like That…

The SATC spin-off has divided fans, but prissy-yet-mostly-unproblematic Charlotte provides a lighthearted peek into the life of a fiftysomething Park Avenue mum.

In this week’s episode, we see Charlotte’s eldest daughter Lily grapple with using tampons for the first time, leading to a whole load of menstrual madness.

Charlotte reveals she hasn’t had a period for four months herself, with conversations about menopause and potential pregnancy ensuing. As many of us will know the pain of, the missing period then arrives as soon as she dons an all white outfit.

It goes to show, Charlotte may be living a fancy Manhattan lifestyle most of us can only dream of, but Aunt Flo waits for no-one.

This ‘flash period’ is largely addressed in a humorous way, but the mishap highlights how unexpected bleeding is just one of the myriad annoyances that come with getting older – and that it could also be something to keep an eye on.

Cosmetic doctor and intimate health expert, Dr Shirin Lakhani, tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Irregular periods can be a symptom of the perimenopause. The perimenopause comes before the menopause and is a time of transition for women.’

Perimenopause can begin up to ten years before the menopause starts, but this varies from person to person.

Dr Shirin says that the build-up to ‘the change’ can cause just as many symptoms as menopause itself, as the ovaries gradually start to produce fewer hormones.

She says: ‘Irregular periods, or “flash periods”, are when someone who previously experienced regular periods may notice that they can go for a few months without having one and then suddenly have one unexpectedly, just as Charlotte did.

‘This irregularity is caused by the change in hormones, with oestrogen and progesterone levels rising and falling more erratically than the regular hormone changes that previously occurred during your menstrual cycle.’

When to go for a checkup

While a ‘flash period’ isn’t usually a cause for concern, Dr Shirin has listed the times when you should see a healthcare professional over your menstrual symptoms:


‘This is the medical term to describe an abnormally heavy menstrual flow that soaks through one or more pads or tampons in an hour. Along with heavy bleeding you might have signs of anaemia such as fatigue or shortness of breath.’

Intense cramps

‘Whilst cramps are a normal part of periods and are caused by uterine contractions that push out the uterine lining, if these cramps are more intense than normal or too intense to bear then it could be a sign of something else such as fibroids or endometriosis – and it’s a good idea to get checked over by a medical professional.’

Bleeding between periods

‘Some causes of bleeding in between periods may be down to something such as a change in birth control and aren’t serious.

‘However it could also be caused by a number of other things such as an STD, PCOS, an injury, polyps of fibroids, perimenopause, or in rare cases cancer. So it’s always worth seeking medical advice.’

For most, Dr Shirin says that this is nothing to worry about, although she advises seeking medical advice if you’re concerned or if it’s affecting your wellbeing.

Treatments like HRT or BHRT may be prescribed to reduce symptoms, but many women find that their usual techniques for getting through a period work just fine.

After you’ve fully gone through menopause, vaginal bleeding may be a sign of cancer or an infection, so visit your GP if something doesn’t seem normal for you.

The importance here is really normal ‘for you’, as each body reacts differently, so tracking your periods can be a good way to learn your own rhythm.

Not only will it give you a clearer picture of the length of your cycle, you can also note down any other associated symptoms so you have a log (either to show to a doctor if necessary, or for your own peace of mind).

Perhaps if Charlotte’s blood-stained jumpsuit in AJLT can teach us anything, it’s how unpredictable and unique our periods are – as well as to remember a tampon next time we wear white.

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