Natural as it may be, menstruation can cause a range of bothersome symptoms. Although lifestyle changes and simple care steps, such as heating pads, rest, and over-the-counter medications, bring sufficient relief for some, abnormal symptoms shouldn’t be ignored.
At Serrano OBGyn in San Antonio, Texas, Dr. Christopher Serrano can work with you to determine the cause of your unusual menstruation symptoms and recommend effective treatments.
Here, we explore five signs it’s time to seek medical care for your symptoms:
If your periods last longer than a week, you may be experiencing heavy menstrual bleeding, a condition also known as menorrhagia. The longer you bleed, the more likely you’ll be to experience complications of blood loss, such as iron-deficient anemia.
Lengthy periods can stem from a range of conditions, including thyroid disease, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), fibroids, polyps, ovarian cysts, and certain forms of cancer.
Heavy periods that last any amount of time can also meet the criteria for heavy menstrual bleeding. When this happens, you may bleed so much that you need to change your pad or tampon every hour for several hours in a row. You might also pass large blood clots and find that you need to wake up during the night to change products.
Though skipping a period once in a while isn’t generally cause for alarm, missing consecutive periods can indicate a condition in need of treatment. If your periods stop completely for at least 90 days and you aren’t pregnant, breastfeeding, or menopausal, you have what’s known as amenorrhea.
Potential causes of amenorrhea include genetic or structural problems, hormonal issues, eating disorders, restrictive dieting, stress, endometriosis, and particular birth control methods.
Menstrual cramps are common among people with a uterus, and in many cases, they’re mild. For some people, however, the pain becomes severe and debilitating. Medically known as dysmenorrhea, severe period pain can stem from endometriosis, fibroids, adenomyosis, and problems with your reproductive organs. You may also experience pain from another disorder, such as Crohn's disease, that flares up during your period.
Mood changes are also common leading up to and during menstruation, seemingly because of hormonal changes. If emotional symptoms such as low moods, irritability, and crying become severe, however, you may be experiencing the effects of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). PMDD can also cause sleep problems, panic attacks, and suicidal thoughts. If your symptoms carry on once your period starts, you may be dealing with premenstrual exacerbation.
To learn more about abnormal menstruation or get the care you need, call Serrano OBGyn, or book an appointment through our website.