The little red flags
WHAT would be your initial reaction during your period if you started to experience pelvic pain, more intense cramps during bowel movements or some other abnormal reactions that were previously unnoticeable?
Would you consult your medical practitioner, family and friends about the issue, or would you do some online research on these symptoms? If it is only a mild level of pain, would you try to ignore the symptoms and continue with your day?
For many women, it is easy to push the issue on personal health aside as there are other urgent matters to attend to. Some of their immediate responsibilities include striving for the best results at work, financing loans and mortgages, completing household chores as well as spending time with their families and raising children.
Though some of these symptoms may not be too serious, it is vital that women seek medical advice when they notice any abnormalities with their health as there is a possibility they are experiencing signs of a more serious health condition.
Discovery by chance
Athena (not her real name) considers her work life in data management to be a stressful one, due to the expectations that come as part of her job, which include personal work achievements and social requirements. From month to month, she would experience symptoms such as cramps, a loss of appetite and terrible back pain during her menstruation. However, she did not give much thought to it. "I always brushed it off as I thought it was normal to experience pain during menstruation. My close female relatives have the same symptoms so it was not a surprise and my friends would give me alternative medicine advice. "I never purposely went to a doctor before to seek medical help for my menstruation problem but I accidentally found out about my endometriosis condition from an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) test I did during my backbone check-up," says Athena. According to the 23-year-old, the condition did not come as a total shock as her sister and cousins also had it. However, Athena also learnt that she has polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a condition caused by hormonal imbalance that induces small cysts to form on the ovaries. 9 had surgery to get the cysts removed and I was on induced menopause for a year after my surgery?' Since then, the intensity of her cramps has decreased gradually.
Having been around other women who experience equal or worse degrees of menstrual pain, Petunia (not her real name) has also dismissed her severe menstrual cramps and blamed it on her genes.
As a woman in her early twenties, she was confused as to what her body was experiencing and the pain is often unbearable, once requiring her to be hospitalised for pain management.
“There was an observation at the hospital about the position of my womb, which apparently is not normal in women and I naturally got worried.
“The condition is hereditary and there is not much that can be done about it. It has been about two years since I recognised the abnormality but it is not something that can be medically treated,” says Petunia who works as an investment consultant.
As her condition is not treatable, Petunia understands why women women may give up seeking help or do not even seek medical help in the first place.
However, she believes one should not downplay their symptoms and be medically checked.
“Are you trying to fool yourself into believing that your symptoms are not actually a problem? Let’s not create more issues for ourselves.”
Quick to act
If my pain and discomfort recedes after a couple of days, how could it be dangerous to my ealt ?
Such questions are not uncommon among many women and this is because they are still largely able to perform daily tasks, albeit with a little inconvenience and pain.
The greater danger of not seeking medical attention and leaving these symptoms untreated, however, is that an individual’s health may deteriorate much further in the long run, causing unnecessary agony and a much heftier hospital bill.
Athena’s case is just one example of a persisting health condition that can go unnoticed. If she had not gone through with that MRI scan, she would not have discovered that she has PCOS and there is no telling if she would pick up other health issues such as gestational diabetes, increased blood pressure or uterine cancer – conditions that have been linked with PCOS.
At the other end of the spectrum, though Petunia’s condition is untreatable, it helps to have a better understanding of her body and is a fact that she has come to accept.
Have you been experiencing unusual body reactions for prolonged periods or were not present in previous months? If so, it is about time you pay a visit to the doctor to be certain there is nothing to worry about.
The conditions listed on the next few pages are not meant to scare or cause paranoia, but rather to give you a reason to pause for a moment, be conscious about your physical reactions and not brush off or downplay these symptoms as something normal.