Whether we call it mother nature, shark week, or Aunt Flo, every women has had that knot of fear when something about her period just doesn’t feel normal.
But every woman’s body is different, and it can be hard to discern when we should be worried and when we just need a night on the couch with a heat pack and chocolate.
So step away from Google and stop looking up your symptoms. FEMAIL has spoken to a medical expert about what is normal and what is not.
Dr Yasmin Tan revealed that the period symptoms her patients most often worry about are pain or a heavy flow, bleeding more or less frequently than their 28-day cycle
Dr Yasmin Tan revealed that the period symptoms her patients most often worry about are pain or a heavy flow, bleeding more or less frequently than their 28-day cycle.
When it comes to blood flow, the Sydney gynaecologist often asks her patients how quickly it takes for them to soak a pad or tampon.
‘If it is more frequent than one or two hours, it’s very heavy,’ Dr Tan told Daily Mail Australia.
Dr Tan said the most common causes of irregular blood flow are fibroids, polyps, and adenomyosis – a condition when the uterine lining grows in the muscle wall of the uterus.
‘And some women just have very heavy periods,’ she added. ‘And we will check if they’re predisposed to a bleeding disorder.’
Cramping is common a day or so before a woman’s period begins, as well as the first couple of days after they start to bleed.
Dr Tan recommends that women who have prolonged cramping for more than three days after the start of their period may want to seek medical advice
But Dr Tan recommends that women who have prolonged cramping for more than three days after the start of their period may want to seek medical advice.
She also advises going to a doctor if the cramps are so severe it is impossible to function normally.
‘If they can’t go to school or work, to their regular activities, are bedridden or have to take a lot of pain relief tablets, that should be reviewed,’ she said.
Although the contraceptive pill is meant to help with period pain, Dr Tan says it doesn’t work with everyone.
And she notes that women can feel cramps in a multitude of places, from the pelvis to their side or their legs and lower back.
When it comes to blood flow, the Sydney gynaecologist often asks her patients how quickly it takes them to soak a pad or tampon. If its more than one or two hours, they should see a doctor
‘It’s a spectrum, some people get no pain and some people get moderate pain. It doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with than person,’ Dr Tan said.
‘But if there’s a lot of severe pain and they can’t cope with it, we would be worried about conditions like endometriosis.’
A missing period can sometimes merely be related to a strenuous exercise regime, but Dr Tan said a doctor’s trip is necessary if it continues to skip.
‘If you just miss one period and that’s it and it goes back completely that’s normal, but if it’s an ongoing problem that should be reviewed,’ she said.
And if you’re on the contraceptive pill, Dr Tan advises seeing a doctor if there’s any irregular bleeding or spotting.
‘If you’re taking the pill properly, the periods should be regular and fairly similar every time,’ she said.
‘Spotting between periods is not considered normal and irregular bleeding on the pill needs to be reviewed.’
And if you’re on a contraceptive pill, Dr Tan advises seeing a doctor if you’re getting any kind of irregular bleeding or spotting