Millions of women around the world experience periods each month. Yet they are still a source of significant embarrassment for many people. As a consequence of this, some women are reluctant to seek medical advice should something change or go wrong. A normal menstrual cycle should last for around twenty-eight days (although this can vary by several days). Periods do sometimes change, and this isn’t necessarily an indication that something is wrong, but it should still be investigated.
In this article we will outline some of the most common signs that there may be an issue with your menstrual cycle, so that you know when to reach out for help.
Missing a Period
Missing a period is usually based on the assumption that a woman is pregnant. This is, of course, relatively easy to diagnose through a simple pregnancy test. But it is important to note that it is not the only reason why a period can be missed.
Stress is a common cause of missing periods, as is intense athletic activity or sudden weight loss. Certain contraceptives, like the contraceptive pill, can also disrupt the menstrual cycle, while the contraceptive injection can sometimes stop periods altogether.
As women age, periods typically become less frequent as they approach menopause. Most women go through the menopause between age fifty and fifty-five, though early menopause can occur in women in their teens, twenties or thirties due to a range of medical conditions or lifestyle factors, such as autoimmune disease, smoking or premature ovarian failure.
Bleeding After Sex, Or In-between Periods
Bleeding after sex or in-between periods can be a sign of several different issues, including chlamydia or abnormalities of the cervix. Such abnormalities can be relatively harmless – as in the case of polyps – or be a sign of infection that requires urgent medical attention. To put your mind at rest it is always better to consult a doctor or speak to your pharmacist if you bleeding between periods becomes a concern.
Contraceptive pills with particularly low doses can sometimes result in bleeding between periods. If this is the case, then simply switching pills can be an effective way of resolving the problem.
In very rare cases, cervical abnormalities could be an indicator of cervical cancer. The National Cervical Screening Programme offers screenings to women to try and detect cancer early. Although cancer is a rare cause of bleeding, it’s important to seek medical help just in case.
Sudden Change to Periods
Sudden changes, such as much heavier or lighter periods, can be a sign that something isn’t quite right. For most women under forty, slightly irregular flows and cycles do not indicate any serious condition, but women over forty should always seek medical advice if they notice any changes.
These changes in women over forty can indicate endometrial cancer, cervical polyps, or a pre-cancerous condition like hyperplasia. This can be treated if caught early.
Experiencing vaginal discharge during the menstrual cycle is perfectly normal, and is nothing to worry about. The female body naturally produces an excess of mucous before ovulation – which tends to be a white or creamy colour. If you notice a sudden change in this discharge, however, this is a sign that something probably isn’t right.
Green discharge, blood-stained discharge, or discharge with a strong, unpleasant odour are all common signs of infection, and should be explored and treated as soon as possible.
If any of these issues crop up during your menstrual cycle, be sure to seek medical guidance to alleviate your worries and help treat your symptoms.
If you have any worries or questions about periods, get familiar with Express Pharmacy’s online live chat to receive the advice you need and put you on the road to recovery as soon as possible. If you are looking for period delay treatments to help you manage your menstrual cycle, we stock Norethisterone – which can delay a period for a maximum of 17 days.