It’s one of the most com­mon ques­tions gy­nae­col­o­gist Dr Katharine White gets from her pa­tients. If you’ve ever had un­pre­dictable pe­ri­ods, read this!

Glamour (South Africa) - - Contents -

Why am I bleed­ing?

from the time you get your pe­riod, you’re track­ing it; I know pa­tients who plan sex, their va­ca­tions and even their out­fits around their cy­cles. And then, some­times, it changes. Of course that would spark ques­tions! Here’s what to know be­fore you freak out.

If your pe­riod is sud­denly heav­ier

Bleed­ing so much you need dou­ble your usual pads or tam­pons? If one pe­riod is crazy heavy, wait it out, but if a few in a row are, you may have de­vel­oped a polyp (small growth) or fi­broids (be­nign tu­mours) in your uterus. These be­nign growths are more of a nui­sance than a dan­ger. Or you may be ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a hor­monal im­bal­ance – also com­pletely treat­able. Your doc­tor can or­der blood tests or an ul­tra­sound to fig­ure out the cause.

If it’s er­ratic

An adult woman’s cy­cle can range be­tween 21-35 days (and a teen’s up to 45 days). Some women never have that reg­u­lar­ity, which is fine, but if your pe­ri­ods are be­com­ing more ran­dom – or if you’ve sud­denly skipped two months (or more) – tell your doc­tor. The most com­mon cause is poly­cys­tic ovary syn­drome (PCOS), which of­ten af­fects women in their 20s. It’s a com­plex con­di­tion, so a doc­tor should con­firm the di­ag­no­sis and best treat­ment for you.

If you’re spot­ting af­ter sex

Any amount of blood af­ter sex can be scary. If it’s a rare oc­cur­rence, you don’t need to worry. Hap­pen­ing of­ten? Go for a check-up. It could be an in­fec­tion, a cer­vi­cal polyp or an STI.

If it just doesn’t stop

Birth con­trol is usu­ally the cul­prit. Bleed­ing is com­mon with a new method but usu­ally re­solves on its own af­ter three months on the pill or six months with an IUD. If it doesn’t, ask your gy­nae about switch­ing. And if you’ve been on your birth con­trol for a long time and start spot­ting, the doc­tor should know that, too: an in­fec­tion or be­nign growth could be the cause.

If it’s MIA

First, take a preg­nancy test. But if you’re not preg­nant or on hor­monal birth con­trol, and you haven’t had your pe­riod in three months, see your gy­nae. PCOS is the most com­mon cause in your 20s and 30s, and early di­ag­no­sis is the best way to man­age symp­toms. If you have an IUD or con­tra­cep­tive im­plant, how­ever, hav­ing your pe­ri­ods stop is com­mon. I tell my pa­tients: en­joy not hav­ing to buy tam­pons!

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