When Should I See A Doctor About My Menstrual Cycle
Contact your doctor or your local Planned Parenthood health center if:
Youre worried that you might be pregnant because youve had unprotected sex and missed your period.
Your period is so heavy that you have to change maxi pads or super tampons every hour.
Your period lasts much longer than usual, or longer than 7 days.
You’re light-headed, dizzy, or your pulse is racing.
Youre 16 years old and still havent gotten your period.
You have severe pain before or during your period.
You have unusual bleeding between periods.
You suddenly feel sick or get a fever when using a tampon.
Your periods or PMS keeps you from your normal day-to-day activities.
Your periods stop or suddenly become irregular.
Your period comes more often than every 21 days or less often than every 45 days.
You get very anxious or depressed around the time you get your period.
Not Sure What To Do Next
If you are still concerned about your irregular periods, check your symptoms with healthdirects online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.
The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether its self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero .
What Can Cause Missed Periods
The most common reasons for missing periods are being pregnant, using hormone contraceptives and menopause.
Periods are often irregular during the first few years after your periods start, and again in the years before the menopause. They can happen more or less often, or be lighter or heavier, than usual.
Periods can also be irregular as a result of imbalanced hormones. There are a number of reasons why hormonal imbalance may occur. This can be due to a sudden change in weight , which may occur with a change in your exercise levels or with a change in your eating patterns. Interestingly, for some women losing weight and starting exercise may make your periods come back more regularly.
Stress and being unwell can also cause you to miss a period, particularly when the stress occurs in the interval between a period and when you would normally ovulate.
Women who have eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia, also will stop having regular periods usually associated with a change in weight.
When hormones become imbalanced, periods can stop altogether. This is called amenorrhea or no periods. Regular periods can return with lifestyle changes, although this can take some time and be difficult. Your doctor can help you find a specialist to support you through these changes.
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Symptoms Of Irregular Periods
You have irregular periods if the length of your menstrual cycle keeps changing.
Your periods may come early or late.
The average menstrual cycle lasts 28 days, but it’s normal for it to be a bit shorter or longer than this.
After puberty, many women develop a regular cycle with a similar length of time between periods. But it can vary by a few days each time.
Cause #: Food Allergies And Sensitivities
An undiagnosed gluten sensitivity or celiac disease meaning you are not taking medication or monitoring it can both impact your hormone levels. These conditions can result in nutrient deficiencies, negatively affect gut health, and add chronic stress to your adrenal glands, which have the ability to affect sex hormone production.
While some of these causes are relatively unavoidable, its crucial that you are paying honest attention to how each element of your lifestyle affects your health that way you can make choices to eliminate or tweak aspects that may be causing irregular periods. If youve been dealing with missed periods for a while, speak to your doctor about running some important tests that can find hormone imbalances and other issues. Many experts will recommend a three-tier treatment strategy that looks something like this: 1) Make appropriate diet, lifestyle, and stress-reduction changes 2) Use natural remedies when you need extra support and 3) Only if you find that those arent working, discuss hormonal pills or procedures with your healthcare provider.
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Cause #: Thyroid Disorders
Although this may be an indiscernible problem, your thyroid can cause many issues related to hormonal imbalances. Studies have shown that thyroid disorders may actually be one of the leading causes of missed periods, affecting nearly 15% of amenorrhea patients. The thyroid gland largely controls your metabolism and impacts many sex hormones, therefore, thyroid disorders like hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism can cause widespread symptoms like changes in estrogen and therefore missed periods.
You’ve Gained A Lot Of Weight
Just like being underweight can cause a problem, so can being overweight. Obese women were twice as likely to have an irregular cycle compared to those who were normal weight, according to an Australian study. Carrying around excess weight may cause hormone issues that throw off your cycle plus, it’s also linked to PCOS. The good news is that losing weight through a smart diet can help bring your period back, a new study shows.
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Period Problem: Heavy Bleeding
Heavy periods affect one in five American women each year.13 If you have heavy bleeding, your periods may be so painful and heavy that you find it hard to do normal activities such as going to work or school.
Causes of heavy bleeding include:
Some research has found that women with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome have a higher risk for heavy bleeding.15 Women with ME/CFS may experience a range of symptoms that can include fatigue , muscle and joint pain, and memory problems.
No Matter Which Period Problems Are Affecting You You Dont Have To Suffer In Silence
You have no reason to feel embarrassed about your periodor the many period problems that can come with it. Talk of menstrual cycle problems is becoming so much more common because, hey, sometimes theyre just the lot were dealt as people with vaginas. Celebrities are out here talking about menstruation) problems, too! Some pad commercials evengaspuse red blood, these days! What a time to be alive.
If youre having period problems, see your doctor for help. If they arent committed to relieving your symptoms, thats a sign you should try to find a more sympathetic medical professional who can help you find the best treatment.
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Maintain A Healthy Weight
Changes in your weight can affect your period. If youre in a larger body, losing weight could help regulate your periods .
Alternatively, extreme weight loss or being underweight can cause irregular menstruation. Thats why its important to maintain a moderate weight.
People who menstruate and have obesity are also more likely to have irregular periods and experience heavier bleeding and pain. This is due to the impact that fat cells have on hormones and insulin.
If you want to lose weight, talk with your doctor. They can help you identify a target weight and come up with a strategy of how to get there.
Vaginal Infection In Women
Women with pelvic inflammatory disease caused by gonorrhea and chlamydia infection can sometimes have irregular bleeding or spotting during their menstrual cycle. This bleeding is usually lighter than you menstruation with other symptoms like
- Low abdomen pain
- Abnormal green discharge or yellow discharge from your vagina
- Vaginal itching and pain
If you notice these symptoms, then your early period may be due to an infection. Inform your doctor as vaginal infection can easily be treated with antibiotics.
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When To See Your Doctor
If a woman is concerned about missed periods, it can be helpful to keep a written record of her periods, including the start and end dates, and a list of any other associated symptoms.
If a doctor has a written record to refer to, they can make a diagnosis more quickly. Using a simple calendar can work, but there are also apps available for smartphones.
Having regular check-ups with a gynecologist or womens health specialist can help address many questions about menstrual cycles. Sometimes, a late period is an isolated occurrence and is not a cause for concern.
However, certain symptoms may require medical attention. They include:
- missing several periods in a row
- a positive pregnancy test
- having symptoms of PCOS, as described above
- having gained or lost a lot of weight
- feeling overly stressed
It Could Be A Sign Of Pregnancy
While one of the clear signs of pregnancy is missing your period, it turns out that some women continue to experience bleeding or a light version of their period when theyre pregnant, says fertility expert Janet Choi, M.D., medical director at CCRM in New York. In fact, shes had patients whove been struggling to get pregnant go out drinking after a light version of their period shows uponly to later learn that they really are pregnant.
Unusually light periods or spotting could also indicate an ectopic pregnancy , which can be very dangerous. When in doubt, take a pregnancy test.
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Exercising Like A Machine Or On The New Trendy Diet This Could Mean Lighter Periods
If youâve recently taken up exercise or started a new diet which has suddenly caused you to lose a substantial amount of fat, you may see your period become lighter or even stop. This is because your body is trying to keep up. Dr. Corda explains, âthis change happens because the levels of the fat drop so low that you cannot ovulate regularly.â To help your periods return, be sure to get all the nutrients your body needs and maybe a less intense workout plan.â
What Are Irregular Periods
Even though girls get their periods on a cycle, that cycle can take different amounts of time each month. For example, a girl might get her period after 24 days one month and after 42 days the next. These are called irregular periods.
Irregular periods are very common, especially in a girl’s first few years of getting her period.
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Period Problems You Shouldnt Ignore
As basically anyone who menstruates knows, certain period problems are just an unfortunate fact of life, like pain radiating through your midsection, a shorter fuse than usual , and bleeding more than you would like to be bleeding from your vagina.
On the flip side, some menstrual cycle problems are a clear sign that you should chat about whats going on with your doctorjust in casebecause they fall outside the bounds of what’s normally expected during menstruation. Here are some period problems that are worth discussing with a medical expert.
Other Medications To Improve Period Regularity
Insulin-sensitising drugs used mostly for diabetes can improve the regularity of periods and ovulation. Metformin does not appear to be quite as effective as the OCP in improving menstrual regularity. However, metformin has a more positive effect than the oral contraceptive pill on risk factors for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, such as cholesterol levels and insulin. This is used usually in women with PCOS.
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Um Why Is My Period So Light 6 Reasons Your Flow Is Lighter Than Normal
Period flow often varies from month to month, some cycles can be really heavy and others quite light, so usually itâs not a cause for concern. But it can still be quite confusing to look inside your pants and see only light spotting, especially if youâre used to a steady or even heavy flow.
Youre Experiencing Early Signs Of Menopause
When a patient mentions a diminishing return on her tampon investment, the first thing Dr. Choi looks at is age. Menopause might be around the corner, but not always. Sometimes with aging the cycles change, she says, noting that its not necessarily a sign of infertility. Someone who needed to use a super pad in their 20s and early 30s may find they need less protection in their later 30s.
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Uterine Polyps Or Fibroids
Uterine polyps, also called endometrial polyps, are soft growths in the endometrium. They can range from sesame-seed sized to larger than a golf ball. These growths are not usually cancerous. Uterine polyps become more common with age and are rare in anyone under 20. You may develop one or many.
Uterine fibroids are another type of non-cancerous growth on the uterus, but they develop from the muscle tissue rather than the endometrium. They may be inside or outside of the uterus and, as with polyps, you can have one or several.
Both polyps and fibroids can cause menstrual irregularities, including more frequent periods, longer and heavier periods, and bleeding between periods. They can also interfere with your fertility and cause miscarriage. Other symptoms of uterine polyps include:
- Post-menopausal bleeding or spotting
Your Period Causes Days Of Pain So Bad Its Hard To Leave Your Bed
Unbearable pain also falls into the category of menstrual cycle problems that absolutely warrant a chat with your medical provider. Dr. Streichers rule of thumb is that if youre experiencing even an iota of period pain beyond what youre fine with, its too much.
The first step in dealing with period pain is typically to take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, since they block hormone-like chemicals known as prostaglandins that cause uterine cramping. If that knocks out your cramps, awesome. If youre still curled up in the fetal position after a few hours, thats a sign that talking to a doctor makes sense for you, Dr. Streicher says. Youre likely dealing with severe dysmenorrhea , and doctors can help. Dysmenorrhea is the most commonly reported period problem, with more than half of women who get their periods experiencing it for one to two days each month, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists . There are two types of dysmenorrhea: primary dysmenorrhea and secondary dysmenorrhea. Primary dysmenorrhea is pain thats due to natural pain-causing chemicals associated with your period. Secondary dysmenorrhea is the result of a disorder in the reproductive system.
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