Menstrual irregularities are a common concern for women of all ages. Even though they’re not usually a sign of serious health problems, they can sometimes signal hormone imbalances, nutritional deficiencies, or other conditions that need attention.
A typical menstrual cycle lasts between 28 and 35 days, depending on a woman’s age, hormones, and habits. So if the cycle is not typical or if there’s an abnormality, it’s good to consult with a physician to see if there might be a problem.
Since many women don’t know how to tell a regular period from an abnormal one, we’ve gathered a list of 6 changes that shouldn’t be ignored.
1. Menstrual irregularities: not getting a period
The absence of a menstrual period is better known as amenorrhea. If a woman has not gotten her period for three or more months and there’s no reason like pregnancy behind it, then she is considered to have amenorrhea.
It’s common among:
- Elite athletes
- Professional dancers
- Women on strict diets
- Women with anorexia
2. Blood clots
Small blood clots are quite normal while menstruating. However, if all that comes out are clots, it’s crucial to see your doctor. It’s not normal for menstrual blood to suddenly contain a lot of large clots. Large clots are only common in the first days after giving birth.
3. Prolonged, heavy menstrual bleeding
Menorrhagia is the medical term for heavy bleeding. It’s common and in fact, most women will experience it at least once in their lifetime. Still, it is worrisome when it happens often and lasts for 7 days or longer.
Women with heavy menstrual bleeding have to change their tampons or pads more often, meaning they have to spend more money. More importantly, in severe cases, it can even lead to anemia due to excessive blood loss.
4. Painful periods
It’s not unusual to occasionally get painful menstrual cramps in your lower abdomen that can sometimes extend to your lower back. However, when it is frequent and interferes with your day-to-day life, it’s best to ask a doctor about it.
- This condition is known as dysmenorrhea and can be debilitating.
- Though it can sometimes be traced to a uterine condition, it seems to be related to an increased production of a hormone called prostaglandin.
5. Bleeding between periods
Bleeding between periods, that is, on days when it doesn’t usually happen, is a clear sign that something isn’t right. Menstrual irregularities like this can be sign of a hormonal imbalance, and in more complex cases, can point to a problem with your ovaries or other parts of the reproductive system.
It’s important to consult with a physician to see if it’s related to:
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Inflammation of the cervix
- Precancer or cancer of the ovaries or uterus
6. Abnormalities in vital signs
Some women experience a drop in blood pressure in the days leading up to their period. Though it’s completely normal, it’s important to monitor it, since in certain cases an imbalance can be significant and dangerous.
It’s best to talk to your doctor if, in addition to hypotension, you also have symptoms like:
- Heavy sweating
- Breathing difficulties
- Tachycardia (racing heart)
- Dizziness and fatigue
When should you see a doctor?
In conclusion, should you have any of the above menstrual irregularities, consult with your physician or gynecologist if:
- Your menstrual bleeding is very heavy.
- You don’t get your period for a long time.
- Your menstrual blood is strong or foul-smelling.
- You get bad menstrual cramps and a fever.
- There are too many blood clots.
- Your period is late.
- You experience extreme fatigue during your period.
Have you noticed any of these menstrual irregularities? Even if you feel you can cope with them, you should get medical advice to find out if they stem from a bigger issue. Ask for relevant medical tests and follow your doctor’s orders.