Kiran Rahim, a doctor specialising in women’s health, has shared five “common” period symptoms women should never ignore.
From heavy bleeding to breast tenderness, while these symptoms may sound fairly regular – sometimes they can be a sign of something more sinister.
Dr. Rahim spoke on behalf of Active Iron to mark the end of endometriosis month, and also debunked some “ridiculous” period myths.
According to Dr Rahim, these are the period symptoms that women should never ignore:
1 – Painful period poops. No one really talks about period poops. So, if you are having very painful period poops, it’s really important you discuss that with the doctor because it can be a sign of something else going on, like endometriosis for example.
2 – Heavy bleeding. Many women think that having heavy periods where they flood their tampons or their towels or they leak through or pass large clots is normal, but it isn’t. If you are having very heavy periods, it’s really important you discuss it with the doctor.
3 – Bleeding between periods. This is almost never normal and should be seen by a healthcare professional as soon as possible.
4 – Symptoms such as fever, feeling nauseous or severe tummy pain should not be ignored. These can be a sign of an untreated pelvic infection or a sign of pelvic inflammatory disease.
5 – Changes in your period. This needs to be investigated because it can be a sign of polycystic ovarian syndrome, thyroid issues, or endometriosis.
6 – Breast tenderness. A lot of women, particularly young women, aren’t used to examining their breasts. There are normal breast changes that happen when you’re on your period and throughout the cycle.
So, if you get to know your breasts through your cycle, you can know what’s normal and what isn’t for them. Any sort of pain or lumps or tenderness outside of your norm should be discussed. There is no shame in any period symptoms and seeking help is key.
Debunking some “ridiculous” period myths, Dr. Rahim also revealed how much blood women actually lose during their time of the month.
“Women think they use litres and litres of blood. But actually, most women lose somewhere between 2 to 5 tablespoons in their cycle, which is on average around 30 to 50 mls of blood,” she said.
“Depending on the length of your cycle, you may be on the lower end of that or on the higher end. Anything above this is abnormal.”
“So if you are flooding every day for days on end and if you’re having to go through multiple period products, then it’s really important that you have a chat with your doctor.”
Growing up, young girls face a lot of misinformation when it comes to their periods.
“In the South Asian community growing up, I heard a lot, and this makes things really difficult for women when they’re on their period. So, I guess the worst one for me was that you were told you couldn’t wash your hair,” Dr. Rahim continued.
“It was the most ridiculous one I’ve seen with absolutely no sense in it. When we were growing up, we were also told that we couldn’t swim during our periods because if we went swimming, the chlorine would go inside us and enter the womb and cause lots of infections or again, infertility.”
“More modern ones are myths like you shouldn’t or should exercise during your period – this is not a real thing.”
“The one that I find really difficult is that periods are all shameful and they aren’t a normal biological process.”
“The more we normalise them and the more we treat them as such, it empowers young girls and women to come in, talk about their menstrual health, fight some of that stigma, and make women’s health better.”