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!
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!