“How do I know what’s normal in a period and what’s not?” The answer to this question can be a bit of a fine line, leading many women [rightfully] to seek a physician’s professional opinion.
We often don’t think about this but in female patients, young women especially, a regular period is as much of an indicator of overall wellness as your blood pressure, or height and weight. Make sure you’re having conversations at annual appointments with both your OB/GYN and primary care provider about period symptoms.
If you’ve never been asked about your period, don’t be embarrassed to bring it up!
“I really love helping young women with heavy or painful periods. Helping patients with this problem is one of the most rewarding things I do as an OB/GYN because treatment can truly be life-changing.
These patients dread their period even before it comes, then during their period have a terrible fear that they’ll bleed through their clothes at school, or won’t be able to make it through class without having to change their tampon. Periods should not interfere with your life. I would say if you’re even wondering whether your menstrual bleeding or pain is normal, it’s worth coming in for an appointment to discuss it.
You’re welcome to bring a parent or even a friend to the office if it makes you more comfortable! I do always take some time to talk with you one-on-one, so if you have concerns you’d rather not share with others, don’t worry – it’s just between you and me.”
HOW TO KNOW IF YOU HAVE ABNORMAL PERIOD BLEEDING
Most women do think of their period as somewhat of an inconvenience. However, your cycle shouldn’t be disruptive enough that it’s intruding on your normal routine. If you find that this is the case, it’s time to talk to your doctor.
Common signs of especially heavy menstrual bleeding, or an abnormal period may include:
HOW HEAVY YOUR FLOW IS.
Losing a significant amount of blood could signal a bleeding disorder, or put you at risk for a related complication, such as anemia. It’s time to check in with your doctor if you feel like you can’t rely on one pad or tampon to make it through daily activities, like a work meeting, college class, or gym workout.
A tendency to bleed onto your bed sheets overnight or through layers of clothing should also be a red flag.
HOW LONG YOUR PERIOD LASTS.
A typical period is usually marked by a heavier flow and some minor symptoms within the first 2-3 days. You should notice that your flow starts to taper off toward the end of your period. Take note if you require a maximum absorbency product for the entire duration of your period.
Additionally, speak with your doctor if it becomes normal for your period to last more than 7 days.
STILL NOT SURE? TALK TO A MEDICAL PROVIDER
The majority of women with especially heavy periods or abnormal symptoms will not have bleeding disorders. And thankfully, there are several treatment options that can be effective, so that your menstrual cycle becomes more manageable.
If you or a woman in your life frequently complains of heavy bleeding and significant pain during “that time of the month,” it’s important to talk with a medical provider right away. Though a regular period does show that a woman is in good health, your monthly cycle shouldn’t keep you from living life to the fullest.