When we go through a period cycle, it often brings uncomfortable symptoms leading up to and during aunt flo’s visit. While an average cycle lasts for two to seven days, it’s important to tune in and know your own body’s ‘normal’ cycle.
You must become aware of how long your period cycle usually is and the frequency and intensity of symptoms you experience before and during your periods. Knowing what’s normal for you is what can help you identify problems.
To help out in this task, we got Dr Gandhali Deorukhkar Pillai, consulting gynaecologist & obstetrician at Wockhardt Hospital, Mumbai, to share insights on five common period problems and what you can do about them.
But first: here’s what makes a period “abnormal”
If your period lasts for less than two days or more than seven to nine days then your body is signaling red alert, ladies! A period cycle that is too heavy or too light and/or the complete absence of a cycle, may suggest issues with your menstrual cycle.
According to Dr Deorukhkar: “PMS lasts for not more than seven to 10 days, anything more than that is not normal. If any symptoms last longer than this or if any symptoms occur all of a sudden, then there might be underlying issues.”
Apart from this, here are the five period problems she recommends you to be vary of:
1. Heavy periods
You might be experiencing heavy periods or menorrhagia, if the flow of your period blood is so heavy that you need to change a pad every hour or so. You may also experience heavy periods if your period lasts for longer than an average of five to seven days. “Bleeding for too long is also abnormal bleeding,” Dr Deorukhkar stated.
According to the US Library of Medicine, an imbalance in progesterone and estrogen causes you to experience heavy periods. Vaginal infections, puberty, inflammation of the cervix, an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism), noncancerous uterus tumors (fibroids), or sudden changes in diet or exercise can cause heavy bleeding.
2. Spotting between periods
While bleeding is a normal bodily function during periods, light spotting between periods is not according to Dr Deorukhkar.
Intermenstrual bleeding or metrorrhagia can indicate serious underlying conditions. If you experience spotting or heavy intermenstrual bleeding, you must consult a doctor immediately. Some of the reasons for this could be: stress, uterine fibroids, a change in medication, hormone imbalance, vaginal dryness, or bigger health implications like miscarriage or cancer.
3. Severe mood swings
We all experience mood swings before and during our periods. If you experience severe irritability, tension, or depressive symptoms you might be suffering from premenstrual dysphoric disorder( PMDD).
During PMDD, you may experience crying fits, irritability, anxiety, palpitations, difficulty concentrating at working, or forgetfulness. According to Dr Deorukhkar: “It’s not the patient but the people around her who help her realise that this isn’t the normal mood swings”.
“The severity of the mood swings sometimes makes women have suicidal tendencies,” she explains. If you find yourself experiencing this, you must seek professional help.
4. Periods that are far too painful to handle
While pangs of period cramps make us all question our pain tolerance, some of us experience excruciating pain.
According to the US Library of Medicine, the condition of dysmenorrhea (or painful periods) is linked to an underlying medical problem such as fibroids, pelvic inflammatory disease, and abnormal tissue growth outside of the uterus (endometriosis).
What should you do if you’re experiencing any of these abnormalities?
Sharing an apt action plan, Dr Deorukhkar states: “Your doctor is the best person to examine you, diagnose the problem, and start a line of treatment accordingly.”