Every woman experiences a unique menstrual cycle. Some have short periods lasting two or three days, while others may have a week-long flow. The flow can range from light and barely noticeable to heavy enough to disrupt daily activities. Additionally, some women experience painful cramps during their periods.
Paying attention to changes in the menstrual cycle and associated symptoms is essential.
Missed Menstrual Cycle
The majority of women have a menstrual cycle approximately every 28 days. It’s important to rule out pregnancy with a test if a period is missed.
If the test is negative, it’s necessary to investigate the reason for the absence of menstruation. Possible causes include intense exercise, significant weight loss, weight gain, or the use of certain birth control pills. Other common causes include polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), high-stress periods, perimenopause, or menopause.
Very Heavy Menstrual Flow
Menstrual blood volume varies among women and about one-third experience profuse menstrual flow. Menorrhagia, characterized by the need to change tampons or pads hourly, can lead to signs of anemia, fatigue, and lack of energy.
Causes of heavy menstrual bleeding include hormonal imbalances, conditions like PCOS and hypothyroidism, fibroids or polyps, endometriosis, adenomyosis, IUD insertion, hereditary conditions, or cervical cancer.
Very Short Menstruation
A regular cycle typically lasts from 2 to 7 days. Shortened cycles may not be concerning, especially if they have always been consistent. Hormonal contraceptives, premenopause, and menopause can also shorten the menstrual cycle.
However, if the cycle suddenly shortens or lengthens, it’s advisable to consult a gynecologist.
Cramps result from uterine contractions that expel the uterine lining. They typically begin a day or two before the flow and last two to four days.
Cramps can range from mild and tolerable to painful and continuous, indicating dysmenorrhea. Particularly intense cramps may be a symptom of fibroids, endometriosis, adenomyosis, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), fatigue, or stress.
Bleeding Between Cycles
Bleeding between cycles, known as spotting, can have various causes. It may be due to pathologies affecting the cervix, skipping or changing birth control pills, sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia or gonorrhea, injuries to the vagina, perimenopause, or cervical, ovarian, or uterine cancer.
Hormonal fluctuations during menstruation can cause breast sensitivity or soreness. Sometimes, the pain may extend to the armpit, affecting an area of breast tissue called Spence’s tail.
Although breast pain is not necessarily linked to severe issues like cancer, it should not be disregarded and may warrant further investigation.
Women must be aware of their menstrual cycle and any changes in associated symptoms. Consulting a gynecologist is recommended for concerns or significant alterations in your menstrual cycle.