There are some period problems that unfortunately come with the territory, like cramps, irritability, and bleeding more than you would like to be bleeding from your vagina. But there are also some period problems that you should bring up to your doctor just in case. Here are some things to keep an eye out for.
Your cramps are so bad that you’re forced to stay in bed.
Most women know that with your period comes some kind of pain but if you’re experiencing a pain that leaves you feeling debilitated then it might mean something more serious. Your first instinct would be to take a painkiller and doctors usually recommend an anti-inflammatory. If this helps with the pain, you’re good to go. If you’re still curled up in the fetal position after a few hours, that’s a sign that you need medical help. The medical term is dysmenorrhea which is just a fancy word for severe menstrual cramps.
There are many different causes of these severe cramps. The main culprit is usually is endometriosis, a condition that causes the tissue lining the uterus to travel outside of it and begin growing on other organs. On top of causing extremely painful periods, endometriosis can lead to painful intercourse, occasional heavy periods, and infertility. With these effects, we think it is best to seek medical advice.
You go through tampons like you go through gum.
The medical term for having an extremely heavy and prolonged period is menorrhagia. These are basically horror movie-style periods, but some people don’t even realize this kind of bleeding is abnormal. It’s not just that bleeding way too much or for too long is messy and inconvenient. Losing more than the typical two to three tablespoons of blood during your period or bleeding for longer than seven days can lead to anemia. If you have anemia, you lack enough healthy red blood cells to get oxygen to all your tissues, so you may feel tired and weak.
Bleeding too much can also be a sign of various health issues, like uterine polyps, which are growths on the inner lining of the uterus that can also cause heavy bleeding. These types of polyps are typically non-cancerous.
Clearly, figuring out what’s causing your heavy bleeding won’t be easy on your own, so you should see your doctor.
Your period shows up unannounced every month, at a different time.
Let’s be honest ladies, who has thought they would have a period-free tropical holiday, only for it to show up right as you hit the beach? We all know this is not a fun situation for everyone involved. Irregular periods could be due to a number of different things, like stress and travel that can be fixed without a doctor. But they can also happen because of various health conditions.
One could be hypothyroidism, which is when your thyroid gland in your neck doesn’t produce enough hormones. This can lead to an irregular period. It can also cause other symptoms, like heavier than usual periods, fatigue, constipation, dry skin, weight gain and impaired memory. Treatment typically involves taking medication that mimics the thyroid hormone.
Irregular periods are also a sign of premature ovarian failure, which is when a person younger than 40 starts losing their normal ovarian function. A more common term for it is premature menopause. It causes symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and difficulty conceiving. Doctors can offer estrogen therapy to relieve the physical symptoms like the hot flashes and they can also counsel you about the possibility of in vitro fertilization if you’d like to physically conceive and carry children in the future.
Or your period does a disappearing act.
If you’re under a lot of stress it is possible to miss your period for one month which isn’t something to be alarmed by. But suddenly being period-free for months may feel amazing, but you’ll want to make sure there’s not a health issue going on. Common causes are ovarian cysts, eating disorders, excessive exercise or, yes, pregnancy.
It’s worth noting that the use of some hormonal birth control methods especially the hormonal IUD like the Mirena can make your period basically disappear. Still, check with your doctor, just in case. You can never be too safe when it comes to your lady business.
You experience spotting between periods. A LOT.
There are times when this is normal, like if you’ve just started a new type of birth control, or even if you’re pregnant. But if nothing in your life has changed and you start spotting between periods, it’s time to call your doctor for an appointment.
It could be something that’s ultimately pretty harmless. But spotting is also a red light for pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which is caused by a sexually transmitted bacteria from infections like chlamydia and gonorrhea spreading to reproductive organs. Pelvic inflammatory disease can cause issues like fever, strange vaginal discharge that smells bad, and burning when you pee. If you have PID, your doctor will first address the STI in question with antibiotics, and it’s very important to have this treated as it’s the main cause of chronic pelvic pain and infertility in women.
More rarely, spotting in between periods can be a sign of cervical cancer. Cervical cancer can come along with watery, bloody discharge that might have a bad odor and pelvic pain. Even though this is the worst case scenario, you’ll want to get it checked out, just in case.
No matter what your period problem may be, you don’t have to suffer in silence. You have no reason to feel embarrassed about your period and the problems that can come with it. After all, it’s all part of being a woman. If you’re experiencing any of these problems, we urge you to see your doctor. Even if it turns out to be just a slight overreaction or a little case of PMS, we’re all human.
For more advice on periods check out the 5 best foods to eat when you have your period!