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No woman looks forward to “that time of the month.” But the truth is…whether we like it or not, our period is an intrinsic part of our womanhood. Sometimes your period can be out-of-the-whack. And when a visit from Aunt Flo seems disrupted, you may wonder if everything is alright. Yup ladies, sometimes your period is trying to warn you of underlying medical problems. While some variations in your period are normal, you should be concerned if you notice that your usual pattern is off by more than a week either way, or if your period just feels plain worse than before. So we have put together this list of period problems that can signal a bigger health problem.
Pregnancy is not the only reason behind a missed period. There can be plenty of other underlying health issues that can disrupt your menstrual cycle. If you are under a lot of stress and experiencing fatigue, it can cause Hypothalamic Amenorrhea. Basically, this means that excess stress has put a strain on your body to affect the hypothalamus, which is a part of your brain that regulates hormones, resulting in disrupted ovulation. If you are over-exercising, this too puts undue strain on your body as well as your menstrual cycle.
Some women who have less-than-normal body fat percentage can also experience skipped periods. Other more serious causes for a missed period can be thyroid imbalances and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). It’s always good to see your doctor if your period is late by 35 days and you’re neither pregnant nor breastfeeding.
If you’re going through sanitary pads or tampons like Kleenex, this can be more than just annoying. Many women experience heavier blood flow during the first 2 days of a period. But if you’re soaking through a pad or tampon every hour, there may be an underlying medical reason behind such heavy bleeding. Uterine fibroids as well as uterine or cervical polyps can cause heavy bleeding. Both these period problems will often show up during a pelvic examination or a transvaginal ultrasound and may need a minor surgical procedure.
Ovarian cysts from PCOS may be another cause of heavy bleeding. Yet another reason for your heavier-than-normal bleeding may be endometriosis, where the uterine tissue starts to grow outside of the uterus. Heavy bleeding caused by endometriosis is usually also accompanied by severe cramping, lower back ache, and pain during sex. Don’t disregard heavy bleeding, as it can lead to anemia. It’s important to see a doctor to get a thorough check-up if excess bleeding is leaving you tired, fatigued and dizzy.
Passing some clots along with menstrual blood is absolutely normal. But if you notice that you’re regularly passing large, golf-ball sized clots, you need to get it checked out. Uterine fibroids are notorious for causing large blood clots like these, and need medical treatment. Von Willebrand disease is a hereditary blood clotting disorder and could also be the reason.
Sometimes, blood clots could signal issues with your newly-fitted intrauterine device (IUD) too. If you’re sexually active, large clots may also be a sign that you’re having a miscarriage without even realizing you were pregnant. Either way, if you notice larger-than-average blood clots, talk to an expert about it.
A regular period lasts anywhere between 4 to 7 days. If your period is regularly longer, like if they last for 10 days, this may be a signal of underlying hormonal imbalances. A longer-than-normal period can be caused by PCOS or uterine polyps.
Dysfunctional Uterine Bleeding (DUB) may be another cause of prolonged bleeding. Like PCOS or Polyps, DUB is also caused by hormone dysfunction, which impacts the stability of uterine lining, causing period problems like a heavier and longer menstrual flow.
Doctors say that a normal cycle is anywhere between 25 to 32 days. If you notice that your cycle has become shorter and Aunt Flo is back for a visit earlier, consider it more than a mere annoyance…it’s time to consult an expert. Both PCOS and thyroid disease can cause shorter menstrual cycles. It could also indicate uterine polyps, or in some serious cases, ovarian failure.
Ovarian failure causes your ovaries to dysfunction before you have reached the menopausal age (which can be anywhere in your 40s to 50s.) If you are under the age of 40 and are noticing low libido, vaginal dryness, and shorter cycle, ovarian failure could be the culprit. However, even something as simple as stress can wreak havoc on your menstrual cycle and cause them to become shorter. To be on the safe side, get this checked out.
For many of us, periods are usually painful and it can be too hard to tell normal pain from abnormal pain. But if your period pain is affecting your ability to function and you can’t seem to go about your normal everyday activities for a week every month, this period problem is a sign of an health issue. If your pain is so bad that you can’t get out of bed and have to call in sick at work, it can be a sign of Endometriosis. When your uterine tissues starts to grow outside of the uterus, spreading to the ovaries, fallopian tube and even bowels, debilitating pain during periods is often the first sign. If you have endometriosis, you will also experience intense lower back pain.
Other causes for your intensely painful periods can be fibroid growths, polyps, a uterine infection or ovarian cysts from PCOS. Extreme pain and discomfort during periods could also be a sign of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, which develops when STDs like gonorrhea or chlamydia go untreated.
Spotting between your periods is rarely normal. It’s usually a sign of underlying hormonal imbalances or changes in the cellular makeup of your reproductive system. If you are also experiencing pain during sex along with light spotting between periods for over 2 days, it could be an early warning sign of uterine cancer and must be checked out immediately.
Other less serious reasons for spotting can be an infection of the uterine lining or a uterine polyp. Hormonal imbalances that shorten the luteal phase to interfere with regular ovulation may also cause light spotting between periods. Spotting can also be a sign that you’re pregnant. In any case, it’s a good idea to consult an expert if you notice spotting for more than 2 days between your periods.
Any major period problems should always be discussed with an expert. After all, your periods are the best indicator or your reproductive health. If your periods were always short and painless, but are now considerably longer and more painful, it could be a sign of worry. OR if it is the other way round and your periods are suddenly shorter and lighter than earlier, it’s still important to consult an expert and rule out any serious health risks. If you’re really in tune with your body, you will notice even smaller changes in your period. And that means your doctor may be able to diagnose any underlying issues way before things get serious.