WHAT YOUR PERIOD’S TRYING TO TELL YOU
It’s very heavy or very light
“Having a light period is generally not a problem; the more important thing is regularity,” explains Bateson. On the other hand, ask your doc if you have a heavy flow (“if you’re changing your sanitary protection every two hours, flooding and passing blood clots ... or if your bleeding interferes with your quality of life”) as it can cause anaemia.
There are lots of potential culprits: a key one is endometriosis, thought to affect one in 10 women. If your period leaves you doubled over, taking sick days or mainlining painkillers, it’s not something you have to accept and put up with. “We want you to come along and seek help,” urges Bateson. “It may just be a matter of understanding which analgesics can be most helpful in managing your pain, but sometimes more investigations are needed to work out the cause.”
It surprises you
If you’re bleeding in between periods, especially after sex,
“that can sometimes be associated with a problem with the cervix, or it can be an indicator of an STI, such as chlamydia or gonorrhoea”, says Bateson. Book in a check-up to put your mind (and body) at ease.
It’s gone AWOL
“[Pregnancy aside,] excessive weight loss or exercise, stress, medications, as well as some serious medical conditions can stop periods,” says Bateson. Another cause? Premature ovarian insufficiency (or premature menopause), which affects one in 100 women under the age of 40. This can happen when women undergo cancer treatments or surgery, but can also be caused by autoimmune and genetic conditions. “Getting to know your bleeding pattern is important, as some women may only have a period every three or four months, which can be normal or could indicate a condition such as polycystic ovary syndrome,” says Bateson. “If the regularity of your periods changes and they stop for three or four months, then talk to your doctor about it.”