The doctor will ask you to discuss your symptoms & ask you about your periods – how regular they are, how heavy or light, & so on. An internal examination of the vagina & cervix may or may not be necessary. Depending on your symptoms, the doctor may suggest blood test to check for hormonal imbalances, iron levels, & other markers.
If your periods are particularly heavy, light, erratic, and/or you are experiencing bleeding between periods, it is best to see a doctor to make sure that your body is healthy & working as it should be. Irregular menstruation may be caused by changes in your hormone levels (oestrogen & progesterone), medical conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), fibroids, endometriosis, thyroid disorders, or a change in contraception.
It is wise to see a doctor should you have any of the following:
- Heavy periods (menorrhagia). Normal blood loss for a period is around 2-4 tablespoons (30-60 ml), although it can be difficult to gauge the amount! A good way to know if your flow is excessively heavy is if you are having to change your pads or tampons every hour or two, or if you are unable to contain your flow with pads. You may also be passing large blood clots (dark clumps of blood).
- Bleeding for less than 2 or more than 7 days
- Unusually short or long menstrual cycle (bleeding at three-week intervals, or less frequently than every five weeks)
- Irregular bleeding between periods
- Bleeding after sex
- Severe pain throughout the course of a whole period
- Periods becoming gradually more painful
- Stopped periods (amenorrhoea). Missing several periods in a row is unusual, & could be an indication of hormonal problems
Some hormone-related symptoms associated with a healthy period include water retention (bloating or swelling of the belly & abdomen), tender or swollen breasts, mood swings & irritable feelings before menstruation. When these symptoms are severe, they are called premenstrual syndrome or premenstrual tension (PMS or PMT). Some pain during the first day or two of bleeding is normal (dysmenorrhoea).
However, if any of these symptoms of your period & menstrual cycle interfere with your daily life, it is a good idea to come in & speak to someone. Our doctors are highly experienced in diagnosing menstrual conditions & can help you get relief.
There are several different conditions that have abnormal bleeding as a symptom, including endometriosis, irregular hormone levels (oestrogen, progesterone, insulin, or thyroid hormones), contraceptive methods, PCOS, cysts, fibroids, pregnancy, miscarriage, or functional uterine problems.