Don’t disregard very heavy and/or very painful periods
What counts as a heavy period? Everyone is different and will have a different period, losing different amounts of blood, but generally speaking:
- Heavy bleeding for 7 days or more
- Pain/heavy flow that disrupts your daily activities
- If you need to change your tampon/pad every hour or so
Discharge is a perfectly normal part of having a healthy vagina and is how the vagina cleans itself. The amount of discharge we get varies throughout our monthly cycle and is normally anything from a clear colour to a creamy/light yellow. If you experience any pink, red or brown discharge, also called ‘bloody discharge’ note it down.
Surely all bloody discharge is an abnormal bleed?
Not necessarily. Some people get a bit of bloody discharge/light bleeding/spotting in between their periods. This can also be referred to as ‘ovulation bleeding’. However, if this starts to happen and isn’t part of what you would consider ‘your normal’, then do speak to your doctor.
It is ‘normal’ to have ‘abnormal bleeding’ through the menopause (peri-menopausal)
Going through the menopause for most people means a few years of irregular/different bleeding patterns. This is due to the ovaries beginning to essentially ‘shut down’ and hormones going (to put it bluntly) haywire. It’s normal to have shorter/longer/irregular periods as this process happens.
There’s no such thing as a post-menopausal period
Once you haven’t had a period for 12 months or more, i.e. gone through the menopause, any bleeding from the vagina is not ‘one last period’, it’s classed as an abnormal bleed. Note it down, when it occurred, and is it quite fresh-looking blood?
Bleeding after sex is more common than people might think (if pre-menopausal)
Again, most of the time it isn’t something to worry about. Like cervical ectropion for example, which is a non-serious condition caused by hormonal fluctuations, but do still note it down if it’s something you experience.
If you bleed during/after sex, also note down whether or not you are in pain
Sex isn’t supposed to be painful, and whilst something like cervical ectropion can also cause pelvic pain/pain during sex, it is still always worth investigating.
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