How to deal with unusual bleeding by charting your cycle
Women may experience unusual or unexpected bleeding at some time in their lives. Whether its heavy bleeding and irregular periods, you should talk to your doctor about your symptoms and it’s important to keep track of them. Here’s how you can chart your period.
What to look out for
Heavy bleeding can leave you feeling weak and tired, which are signs of anaemia caused by a lack of iron. So, if you are worried, do visit your doctor right away:
Here are the signs to watch out for:
- Your period lasts longer than seven days
- You change pads or tampons a lot in one day (every two hours or less)
- You experience sudden surges of flow or clots
Of course, if you’ve just had a baby, once your periods start again, the bleeding may be heavier than before you became pregnant. If this is the case, you might want to use pads for a while.
How to recognise irregular periods
Many women find their periods become irregular at some time in their lives. Don’t worry, this is common.
- If you’re aged between 9 and 16, your periods are unlikely to be regular
- Around 35, your cycle may well become shorter
- After childbirth, if you breastfeed, your periods probably won’t return until you stop
- When you approach 50, your cycle will probably become shorter as you near the menopause. It’s also normal to skip periods, or for bleeding to get lighter or heavier
There are lots of reasons for irregular periods and they’re usually quite normal. Though of course you are the best judge of what is normal for you. If there’s a sudden change, make sure you chart your symptoms and get in touch with your doctor.
How to keep track of your periods
Create a period calendar and note any changes in your body you think are unusual. Try to include the following:
Mark down the days of your period on a calendar. The first day of your period is 'Day One' of your monthly cycle. If you begin to chart your cycle each month, you'll see a pattern. A normal cycle lasts from 21 to 35 days.
Heavy or light?
If you've been having periods for a while, you know what your flow looks like. So keep track of light or heavy bleeding and any changes in colour and texture, such as blood clots and the number of pad or tampon changes.
Your basal body temperature (BBT)?
Get hold of a digital BBT or fertility thermometer from your chemist and a graph from your gynaecologist, then take your temperature first thing in the morning.
If you’re wondering what’s BBT exactly, it’s the lowest temperature attained by the body during rest (usually during sleep) and is generally measured immediately after waking up and before any physical activity. Doctors monitor it as women’s temperatures are usually at their lowest before ovulation!
Any unusual secretions
Is there any spotting in between periods? Changes in vaginal secretions such as colour and amount? Are they itchy or smelly? Any vaginal lubrication problems? And last but not least, are you experiencing an unusually high flow? Write it all down as it could help your doctor.
Chart your cramps, whether or not they’re linked to your period
Depression, mood swings and irritability
This is all about taking control of your body. Chart your symptoms and you’ll be in a much better position to tell your doctor if there’s a problem.