1. Heavy periods (menorrhagia)
This is common. It is difficult to measure blood loss accurately. Periods are considered heavy if they are affecting your life and causing problems.
For example if you:
- Regularly experience flooding, when blood leaks on to your clothes or bedclothes.
- Are passing clots.
- Need double sanitary protection, ie pads and tampons together.
- Find your normal lifestyle is restricted because of heavy bleeding.
- See your doctor if your periods change and become heavier than previously.
There are various causes of heavy periods. However, in most women, the cause is unclear and there is no abnormality of the womb (uterus) or hormones. Treatment is available which can reduce heavy periods.
2. Painful periods (dysmenorrhoea)
It is common to experience an ache in your lower abdomen, back and tops of your legs, especially in the first few days of your period. The first two days are usually the worst. Some women have more pain than others. Painkillers or anti-inflammatory painkillers such as ibuprofen usually ease the pain if it is troublesome.
The cause of the pain in most women is not fully understood. Sometimes conditions such as endometriosis can make period pains become worse. You should see a doctor if:
- The pain becomes gradually worse each period.
- Pain begins a day or more before the onset of bleeding.
- Pain is severe over the whole time of the period.3. Irregular periods or oligomenorrhea
- Unpredictable periods are normal the first year of menstruation, and during perimenpause (the years leading up to menopause). Hormone imbalances or disorders can also cause irregular periods, which can affect fertility levels and your chances of conceiving a baby.
Dr Minkin recommends keeping track of your periods, to see if the irregularity is normal for you (because what’s normal for one woman can be abnormal for another). She also says, “Fortunately, most menstrual problems are minor and easily treatable.”
3. Abnormal Bleeding
Abnormal bleeding is a common menstrual problem, and can have many causes. Your gynecologist or doctor may start by checking for problems that are most common in your age group – because a woman of age 47 will have different menstrual problems than a woman of younger age . Some of the most common causes of menstrual problems aren’t serious and are easy to treat. Others can be more serious. Which is why you need to see your doctor if you have problems with your menstrual cycle.
4. No periods or amenorrhea
If you’ve missed three periods, then you may be dealing with amenorrhea (or a pregnancy or peri-menopause or menopause). The most common cause of absent periods is pregnancy. Amenorrhea can also be a side effect of illness, stress, overexercising, or extreme weight loss.
Amenorrhea simply means “no periods”, and it’s the medical term used to describe the absence of a period in young women who haven’t started menstruating by age 15, and women and girls who haven’t had a period for 90 days or three months.
Causes of amenorrhea can include:
- Extreme weight loss
- Eating disorders
- Excessive exercising
- Serious medical conditions in need of treatment