No woman looks forward to their monthly period. The menstrual cycle can vary from woman to woman. Some women have more “regular” menstrual cycles that stay consistent from month-to-month. Some women experience cycles that can be somewhat irregular, in which the length of the period or amount of bleeding (or severity of other symptoms) can fluctuate from one cycle to the next. This is normal. However, some abnormalities that occur during your period can be warning signs of bodily changes like pregnancy or certain reproductive health conditions. Our gynecological healthcare providers suggest keeping an eye out for the following signs:
Especially Long Periods or Heavy Bleeding
Although some women’s periods regularly include heavier-than-normal bleeding, exceedingly heavy bleeding or very long periods can be a sign that something is wrong. This condition is known as menorrhagia. This can mean soaking through a tampon or pad in an hour or less. In addition to being uncomfortable and inconvenient, losing too much blood during your cycle can increase your risk of anemia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Very Painful Periods
Dysmenorrhea, or severe menstrual cramps, can make menstruation unbearably painful for some women. Everyone’s pain threshold is different. If you experience a level of discomfort far beyond what you consider normal during your period, it could be a sign that something isn’t right. Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can reduce uterine cramping. However, it’s important to speak with your doctor before trying any new medications. If this doesn’t help, it’s time to visit with your board-certified gynecologist. Dysmenorrhea can be a symptom of uterine fibroids or endometriosis.
A random missed period may occur as a result of stress. However, missing multiple periods in succession could be a sign of pregnancy or gynecological health concerns like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). It’s worth remembering that certain methods of hormone-based birth control like hormonal IUDs can have this effect on your period.
Heavy Spotting Between Periods
Some spotting can be expected between periods, for some women, especially after beginning a new type of birth control or early on in a pregnancy. However, if nothing has changed, spotting between periods should not be ignored. Although it could very well be an indication of something fairly harmless like a benign uterine or cervical polyp, heavy spotting between periods can be a symptom of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
It’s important not to panic. Experiencing any of these symptoms is not necessarily an indication that anything is wrong. However, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. A timely visit with your board-certified gynecologist can help determine if a menstrual irregularity is a cause for concern. For more information or if you would like to request an appointment, please contact Dr. Kristine Gould at Gynecology Associates of Gwinnett today. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more news, tips, and updates on our upcoming health and wellness events.