Sunday, April 9, 2017
Periods can be a source of unpredictability for some women. Many women struggle with irregular cycles, painful periods, and tend to just grin and bear it. But what is truly classed as out of the ordinary when it comes to menstrual cycles, and when does the time come to seek help?
Here we take a look at what unusual period activity looks like, the types of things to look out for, and what the warning signs might be to go and visit your doctor for further advice and investigation.
Typically, most women have regular cycles that last approximately 28 days. This means that during their period, bleeding occurs for about three to seven days each time they have a new cycle.
Periods can be painful, but most women find that over the counter painkillers work to relieve any discomfort. A period becomes abnormal when the pain begins to affect and invade your daily life, and stops you from carrying out normal every day activities.
Menstrual cycles are different for everyone, with most periods (on average) being five days long. Some women experience less days (2), and some slightly more (7). An irregular cycle means that some women may not get their period on time and get it late, other women might not have much time at all between periods and get it early. The flow of a period might also be irregular too, so while you might have been light one month, you may experience a heavier period the next month.
Irregular periods can be caused by a variety of things, but the most common causes include lifestyle changes (such as stress or weight loss/gain), contraception choices, polycystic ovary syndrome, or thyroid issues.
If you are experiencing irregular periods on an ongoing basis contact your GP for further advice.
Every woman is different, so what is normal for one, could be completely different for another. When it comes to periods, some women find that heavy periods are typical and completely normal for them, so this means that it can be hard to determine how much is too much blood.
According to the NHS, on average women lose about 30-40ml of blood during their period, with heavier flows being considered to be about 60ml. To determine if you have heavier than normal periods, try to consider the following:
- Pay attention to how often you change tampons or pads - does it feel like you are using alot?
- Are you experiencing bleeding through to your clothes?
- Do you have to double up on protection? I.e. using tampons and pads together
Like with period pain, if your periods are so heavy that they affect your daily life, contact a doctor to investigate further.
While some women experience irregular periods, others might experience missed periods or an absence altogether. Periods can stop due to a range of factors, including:
- Sudden weight loss
- Being overweight
- Exercising too much
- Taking the contraceptive pill
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
It's time to see your GP if you have taken a pregnancy test which is negative, and you have missed three periods in a row. Your GP will then be able to investigate further and see if there are any underlying health conditions which may be causing your missed periods.