While you may not mind if your period goes MIA, some irregular symptoms should not go ignored. Skipped periods and other pesky menstrual problems like spotting and heavy bleeding could be signs of something more serious. Read on for our guide to red-flag symptoms that are worth talking to your ob-gyn about.
1. Skipping Periods
If you miss two or more periods and you know you're not pregnant, it could be due to a hormonal imbalance, thyroid problems, excessive exercise or dieting, stress or premature menopause. Without a period, the lining of the uterus could build up too much, leading to the growth of abnormal cells (a potentially precancerous condition), notes Sharon Mass, MD, a clinical assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UMDNJ in Newark, New Jersey. Besides giving you a pelvic exam, your doctor is likely to order blood tests to check hormone levels and screen for a thyroid disorder, polycystic ovarian syndrome (or PCOS, a condition marked by high levels of androgens, or male hormones) and premature menopause.
2. Suddenly Intense or Worsening Cramps
This could be a sign of endometriosis, a condition in which cells that grow inside the uterus begin to grow outside the uterus, causing serious pelvic pain. "Symptoms can start any time, but most women who are diagnosed with it have some history of painful periods from a young age," Dr. Mass says. Intense cramping could also be caused by a mass in the pelvis.
If you start seeing blood in between your periods, the cause could be a uterine cyst or polyp, fibroids, an infection (like bacterial vaginosis) or a precancerous growth.
4. Heavy Bleeding or Periods that Last Longer Than 10 Days
Soaking through a maxipad or super tampon in an hour or less qualifies as heavy. This could signal a medical problem (such as fibroids, polyps or adenomyosis, in which tissue from the uterine lining grows into the wall of the uterus) that could cause you to become anemic, explains Nanette Santoro, MD, professor and chair of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Colorado at Denver.
5. PMS Symptoms That Are Seriously Disrupting Your Life
It could be PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder), which is "like PMS times a zillion," says Michele Curtis, MD, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the university of Texas Houston Medical School. Symptoms include binge eating, mood swings with periods of crying, severe anxiety , anger and feeling out of control that happen the week just before your period and get better once bleeding starts. It can be very debilitating, but medications-like taking antidepressants for two weeks a month or continuously-can make a big difference.
6. The Hormone Effect
If you've got asthma or irritable bowel syndrome and it seems to be a lot worse during the week or so before your period, it's probably not a coincidence. There's a phenomenon called Premenstrual Magnification in which a condition (including diabetes, depression and arthritis) may get worse right before your period, thanks to hormonal fluctuations. Talk to your doctor about increasing the dosage of your medication just before you get your period, which can help you feel better.
Original article appeared on WomansDay.com.
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