Period symptoms you shouldn’t ignore

People have had symptoms brushed off as ‘normal’ period symptoms for many years.

However, periods should not affect your quality of life, and there are many symptoms, which many believe are typical period symptoms, that should not be ignored.

There are several gynaecological underlying conditions that could be the cause of these symptoms. Getting advice and seeing specialists early on can help you manage your symptoms, improve your lifestyle and get ahead of a condition you may not know you have.

Just as every person is different, every period is just as unique. For some people, a two-day period is their baseline, whereas, with others, they may have an entire week. It’s essential to track your periods to make sure you notice anything out of the ordinary.

If your periods stay consistent, you are usually fine to continue as usual, but always stay alert and aware of your cycle so that you can report any changes to your doctor. The following symptoms are always worth reporting to your doctor.

1 Skipped periods

Calander with period pads & tamponsMost periods will occur about once every 28 days, although some occur more often. However, if your period suddenly stops without explanation, it’s essential to look into it.

Yes, this can be a sign of pregnancy, and a pregnancy test should rule this out. However, if it isn’t due to pregnancy, something else could be the cause.

Skipped periods can be caused by:

  • Intense exercise or significant weight loss.
  • Weight gain.
  • Continuous birth control pills (please ensure you never do this without instruction from a doctor beforehand).
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
  • Extreme stress.
  • Perimenopause.

Whatever the answer, it’s important to determine the cause. A skipped period due to weight loss could mean you’re overdoing the diet. Continuous birth control pills should only be used under a medical professional’s guidance and can ease your symptoms of PCOS and Perimenopause. A skipped period should also serve as a warning that your stress levels are too high.

2 Heavy bleeding

Red roses in period pad signifying bleedingWhile flow varies from person to person, an unexpected heavy period should be something you report to your doctor.

In addition, if you’re soaking through one or more pads/tampons in an hour, this could prove problematic and lead to anaemia.

Causes of heavy menstrual bleeding include:

  1. A hormone imbalance. Conditions like PCOS and an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) can affect the balance of your hormones. These can be treated, so it’s always good to seek expert advice.
  2. Fibroids or polyps. These are noncancerous growths in your uterus, which can cause bleeding that’s heavier than normal.
  3. Endometriosis. This is a common condition that often goes undiagnosed due to the vast array of symptoms it causes and the need for it to be diagnosed surgically. Endometriosis is caused by endometrial tissue growing outside of your uterus. The tissue swells each month, as your normal endometrial tissue does, and then sheds during your period. However, when it’s in other organs — like your ovaries or fallopian tubes — the tissue has nowhere to go. Endometriosis symptoms can be eased through hormonal treatments, dietary changes and minor surgery.
  4. Adenomyosis. Adenomyosis is similar to endometriosis and is a condition that happens when tissue that usually lines the uterus grows into the uterine wall. It has nowhere to go when it sheds, so it builds up and causes pain.
  5. Intrauterine device (IUD). There are many types of IUDs, which are a form of birth control. However, this type of birth control can occasionally cause heavy bleeding as a side effect, especially during the first year of using it.
  6. Bleeding disorders. Inherited conditions like Von Willebrand disease affect blood clotting and can also cause abnormally heavy menstrual bleeding.
  7. Pregnancy complications. Unfortunately, an unusually heavy menstrual flow could signify a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. This can often happen so early that you may not even realise you were pregnant.
  8. Cancer. No one likes to consider this, but a sudden heavy flow can indicate uterine or cervical cancer.

Diagnosing the cause behind your heavy flow is vital for a number of reasons. Not only do you need to make sure it’s nothing that can be treated or cured, but you also need to avoid becoming anaemic. Make sure you visit your doctor if your flow becomes unexpectedly heavy.

3 Abnormally short or long periods

As mentioned above, everyone’s period is slightly different. If short periods are regular for you, then there’s no cause for concern. However, if your period is suddenly much shorter than normal, you should consider getting a check-up.

There are several causes of this, ranging from hormonal birth control to menopause, but if your periods suddenly get much shorter, check in with your doctor.

4 Intense cramps

woman with period crampsYes, cramps are a normal part of periods, but intense cramps are often written off as normal period pain. Cramps shouldn’t affect your daily life and should be able to be treated with basic paracetamol or a heat pack.

Normal period cramps are caused by uterine contractions that push out your uterine lining. They usually start a little while before your period begins, lasting up to four days.

However, some people find their cramps excessively severe and drastically affect their daily life. This is called dysmenorrhea.

Dysmenorrhea can be caused by:

  • Fibroids
  • An IUD
  • Endometriosis
  • Adenomyosis
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
  • Stress

Any severe cramping should always be discussed with your doctor.

5 Bleeding between periods

Spotting and bleeding between periods may not be cause for concern, but highlighting this with your doctor is always worthwhile.

There are a few reasons why you might notice spotting or bleeding in between your periods. Some causes, such as a change in your contraception, aren’t severe; however, others will require a trip to your doctor.

Causes of bleeding between periods could include:

  • Skipping Or Changing Birth Control Pills
  • STDs Like Chlamydia Or Gonorrhoea
  • PCOS
  • An Injury To The Vagina (Such As During Sex)
  • Uterine Polyps Or Fibroids
  • Pregnancy
  • Ectopic Pregnancy or Miscarriage
  • Perimenopause
  • Cervical, Ovarian, or Uterine Cancer


If you notice your period is different to how it usually acts, or if you suffer from debilitating cramps, visit your healthcare professional to rule out any minor or severe conditions.

While it may be easier to write these symptoms off as ‘normal period’ signs, you may find that treatment is available!

Should you experience any of the above symptoms, we highly recommend getting an endometrial lining scan to rule out many common conditions that could be causing this. Also, if you suffer from any of the symptoms, your GP will be able to talk you through what the causes could be and what your next steps are.


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