The menstrual cycle begins when the uterus wall thickens in preparation for a pregnancy. When the pregnancy doesn’t happen, the lining starts to break down and your body pushes it out, marking the start of your periods. Menstruation starts from the ages of 12 or 13 years, and comes every 21 to 35 days, lasting no more than seven days. Menstrual cycles are unique to each woman and they normally change over time due to circumstances such as pregnancy. For the most part, your periods are usually consistent and you experience symptoms like cramps and headaches. However, when you notice a sudden change in your menstrual cycle along with abnormal symptoms, you should be concerned. Today we explore six period symptoms you should see your doctor about.
1. Intense Pain
Mild abdominal cramps are normal during your periods because of the uterine contractions that push out the uterine lining. The cramps may start a few days before your period and may last up to four days.
You should see your doctor when you experience severe cramps that force you to miss school or work. Painful cramps can cause diarrhea, vomiting, or nausea. This might be a sign of serious conditions, including endometriosis, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), adenomyosis, stress or fibroids.
2. A Sudden Change in Your Cycle
After having periods for some time, you learn the normal pattern of your cycle. However, if you notice your period suddenly takes longer or shorter than normal, it may be time to seek your doctor’s advice. Various factors such as stress, hormonal change or environmental change could trigger this change. Irregular periods are hard to predict and in some occasions, you may skip one or two months without periods. If your periods have always been regular, the sudden change merits a visit to the doctor. In situations where you’re experiencing acute stress, your body naturally preserves vital basic functions. This impacts your menstrual cycle and may cause a delay. If you’re not using hormonal birth control methods or you’ve not reached menopause, you shouldn’t ignore a change in your cycle.
3. Heavier Than Normal Flow
The volume of blood during your periods is another factor you should watch closely. The bleeding is unique to every woman, and what may be heavy flow for you might be normal for another woman. If you’re changing your pads or tampons every hour, you may have menorrhagia, an abnormally heavy blood volume during menstruation. Other factors that may lead to heavy bleeding include uterine cancer, pregnancy complications, hormone imbalance, fibroids, acquired blood clotting disorders among others.
4. Late Periods
If you’re sexually active and your period is late, you might want to take a pregnancy test. In case the test comes up negative, you may have experienced anovulatory cycle, meaning your body skipped ovulation. If you don’t ovulate, your ovaries don’t make hormonal changes that trigger your period. Occasional late or missed periods due to lack of ovulation may be caused by stress. However, if this develops into a regular trend, and you end up missing more than two periods in a row, it’s time to check in with your doctor. Missing your periods three times consecutively may indicate an underlying issue preventing ovulation. Some of the common reasons are; weight gain, weight loss, fatal stress, and engaging in strenuous physical activities.
5. Spotting Between Periods
If you notice bleeding or spotting between periods, that’s a tale tell sign that you need to consult your doctor. In case this was caused by a change in birth control, it may not be a big deal. If it’s not, you should not ignore this symptom. Other causes of spotting between periods include:
- Thyroid disorder.
- Ovarian, uterine or cervical cancer.
- Injury in the vaginal area, for instance, during sex.
- STDs like gonorrhea or chlamydia
- Premenopause (the transition between a woman’s regular periods and final periods)
Seeking expert opinion early makes handling the origin of the problem easy. Some of these conditions can lead to serious health complications.
6. Your Period Stops
Besides pregnancy being the first assumption in such a scenario, amenorrhea (the term used to describe the lack of periods), there could be other underlying issues. Doctors warn that this may be an indication of kidney or liver problems, thyroid disorder, poor diet, prolactinoma (a brain tumor) or even hormonal changes. To be sure about the condition that may have caused bleeding to stop altogether, it’s advisable to make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.
Sometimes it’s easy to ignore certain symptoms such as abdominal pain, heavy bleeding and spotting thinking that it’s a one-time thing. This is a risky mindset that could potentially result in unpleasant medical conditions. To fully understand what you’re going through, you need to grasp how your body feels and behaves during a normal menstruation period. This way, any symptom that isn’t normal will be easy to detect and allow you to take early precautions.
All images by Pixabay