The monthly period, for most of us, isn’t an event to be revelled in. Usually, it appears as an empty inconvenience, bringing sometimes with it a host of heavy cramps, bizarre cravings and a cascade of crimson glory. It’s when periods begin to appear in unusual avatars, making occasional guest appearances, descending in scanty sprinkles or deciding to take a sabbatical, that they start to become a problem. Most often, an unusual menstrual pattern is suggestive of a deeper rooted condition like endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or anaemia.
Recognising that you have a problem in the period department is the first step to seeking adequate treatment for your condition. If you’ve had an odd menstrual history that you’re still trying to fathom, use this guide to lend yourself some clarity. Here are 5 signs that could indicate that your period is telling you something.
Do your periods arrive within a predictable frequency? Although it isn’t necessary that they arrive at exact intervals every month, you should be able to identify an approximate monthly interval pattern. For example, if you experience a period every 36 days, that might just be your body’s individual menstrual clock. If you haven’t ever charted your period dates before, start now. There are a plethora of apps to choose from that can help you determine your consistency and even point you towards probable menstrual dates.
If you notice significant delays – 20 days apart one month, 40 days apart, the next – or if your period doesn’t fall into a specified calendar schedule, you may want to have yourself checked for medical conditions. Schedule a consultation with your doctor to read into your outward symptoms.
Cramps are a common by-product of periods, but debilitating cramps most certainly aren’t. For most women, herbal teas, elevated leg positions during menstruation, and good nutrition can serve to relieve menstrual pain. However, if you find yourself engulfed in pain that doesn’t respond to even heat therapy or doctor-prescribed pain medication, it is likely that you have a condition that needs looking into. Endometriosis is a likely culprit in persistent pain during menstruation.
There is no set standard for the normal amount of bleeding during menstruation. The accepted threshold varies from woman to woman, with some women bleeding heavier than others, and vice versa. That being said, a pad that becomes saturated within the hour or if there is a passage of clots, it is symptomatic of heavy bleeding. If you are prone to heavy bleeding, it’s a good idea to revisit your tapestry of feminine products. Menstrual cups, for example, offer far superior protection than pads and tampons for heavy cycles.
Heavy bleeding may or may not be a reason for worry, but it’s worth having yourself evaluated if you do experience a heavier-than-usual flow. Fibroid uterus, Adenomyosis of uterus( thickening of the uterine wall) or uterine cancers can cause heavy bleeding besides hormonal imbalances.
For most of us, cramps appear only once a month, along with the usual crimson tide. Mid-cycle cramping, unaccompanied by bleeding or spotting, therefore, can be a cause for concern. In many cases, it is characteristic of ovarian cysts. Medical management can help to treat ovarian cysts, and in turn, alleviate associated pain. Without timely management, cysts can spiral into more serious conditions like infertility.
Although mid-cycle spotting is also an acceptable symptom of some birth control methods like the pill and intrauterine devices, it is wise to rule out any underlying conditions by seeking a definitive diagnosis for your bleeds.
While not having to welcome your monthly visitor can seem like a welcome break, it can actually signal a problem. An occasional absence of periods may be caused by stress, but if you notice a consistent trend, you may be dealing with something else entirely. Pregnancy is the most obvious cause of absent periods, with other causes including underweight, insufficient sleep and thyroid issues. Your body has a marvellous inbuilt menstrual mechanism. It registers every little change. Unusual periods can give you a keyhole into your body’s internal struggles and prompt you to seek the help you need. Most conditions giving rise to atypical menstruation can be treated with clinical or medical management, and lifestyle changes.
As women, we’re often conditioned to just ‘dealing with the pain’, whether it be emotional, physical or psychological. But when it comes to your period, it’s important to stop dealing and start noticing, start acknowledging and start talking. It’s important to spark a conversation about your condition. By starting early, you can finally let your body know that all this while, you’ve been listening.