Many women suffer with painful, heavy, or irregular periods, and bowel or bladder symptoms before or during their periods. Some will go years or even decades before seeking help – or may not realize that the pain and bleeding that they’re experiencing are not normal. Recognizing that there may be a problem is the first step to figuring out what may be causing your symptoms, and finding a treatment to control them.
What are possible causes of painful or heavy periods?
There are common conditions such as endometriosis, adenomyosis, or fibroids which can cause pain or abnormal bleeding. Up to 1 in 10 women may have endometriosis, and up to 80% of African-American women may have fibroids, so these conditions affect a large number of people. Many women have experienced heavy or painful periods since they were adolescents, and/or their mothers or sisters may also have had similar periods, so they may not have realized that severe pain or heavy bleeding are not normal! Other causes of heavy or irregular bleeding including uterine polyps, or much more rarely uterine or cervical pre-cancer or cancer. Though most causes of painful or heavy periods are benign, it’s very important to be seen for an exam, and testing, in order to figure out the cause of your symptoms.
When should I see a Gynecologist for consult?
In general, if you are experiencing period symptoms that are significantly affecting your quality of life, please make an appointment with your gynecologist. Other reasons to make an appointment as soon as possible:
- You’re experiencing worsening pain with periods
- You have pelvic pain with sex, bowel movements, or exercise
- You’re having heavy period bleeding soaking through pads or tampons frequently or passing large clots
- You’re experiencing bleeding between periods, bleeding with sex, or bleeding after menopause
What tests are done to evaluate painful or heavy periods?
Your gynecologist will do a basic pelvic exam, and testing such as a Pap smear and STD testing as needed. The imaging study that we use to evaluate pelvic pain and bleeding is a pelvic ultrasound. Part of this exam is done through with a narrow vaginal probe, but it is generally not painful, and just feels like pressure. Sometimes an MRI may be ordered as a follow-up test. If you’re having heavy or irregular bleeding, your doctor may also order bloodwork to check your blood count, iron, hormone levels. If you are 45 or older, or are having persistent heavy or abnormal bleeding, or your imaging studies show possible thickening of the tissue inside the uterus, your doctor may also recommend a biopsy or a hysteroscopy (camera to look inside the uterus) or D+C (dilation and curettage) to test the tissue from inside the uterus.
What treatments are available for painful or heavy periods?
The treatments that you may be offered will depend on the condition that is causing your symptoms. But in general, many options may be available, ranging from medications (such as over the counter anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen, hormonal medications i.e. birth control, or non-hormonal medications to stop bleeding), a hormonal intrauterine device (IUD), endometrial ablation (a treatment to cauterize the cavity of the uterus), procedures to remove or destroy fibroids, or a hysterectomy (a surgery to remove the uterus). Your doctor will discuss what treatments may be right for you, depending on your testing, your plans for future fertility, and your overall health.
I was told that I had to have a hysterectomy for my fibroids or endometriosis. Is that my only option?
For most patients, unless you are diagnosed with certain types of cancer, a hysterectomy is never the only option. As above, there are many different types of treatments, though your doctor will need to review your testing to discuss the plusses and minuses and likelihood of success of different options. We also encourage second opinions if you feel the options recommended are not a good fit for you.
If you’re experiencing painful, heavy or irregular periods, or other bothersome symptoms associated with your periods, schedule an appointment with an Axia Women’s Health specialist today.
The fertility awareness method (tracking of your menstrual cycle in order to prevent pregnancy) has been gaining traction on TikTok and other social media channels of late. But, does it work? Axia Women's Health OB/GYN, Dr. Daniel DiSabatino, explains what you need to know about the risks/benefits in a recent interview with Yahoo! Swipe through to learn more.
#fertilityawareness #birthcontrol #naturalfamilyplanning #cycletracking #contraception ...
There are so many ways to make your health a priority in 2023. From scheduling your annual GYN exam to finding ways to care for your mental health. Whatever your health goals, we're here to support you. Cheers to a healthy year ahead! ...
The word “vagina” has become an all-encompassing term used to refer to the general area “down there," when in fact, there's a lot more to our reproductive organs than we may even realize. Can you identify all of the parts here? Swipe right to check your answers. Knowledge is power! 🙌
#femaleanatomy #vagina #vulva #uterus #cervix #ovary #womenshealth #fallopiantubes #whatsupdownthere ...
PCOS is one cause of an irregular menstrual cycle, but there are many others. Other factors such as stress, thyroid disorders, fibroids, or other hormonal conditions can impact your cycle. The only way to know the true cause is to consult with your provider. Fortunately, many of these conditions are treatable!
#pcos #pcosmonth #pcosfacts #pcosmyths #pcossuport #womenshealth ...
The truth is because PCOS can disrupt your normal menstrual cycle, it can take longer to get pregnant...but it's not impossible! 💫👩🏽🍼
Some women may be able to conceive naturally after managing PCOS symptoms, while others may find help in assisted reproductive technologies like IVF. 🔬
Wherever you are in your journey with PCOS, don't give up hope! 💜 Stay tuned as we shed light on more common myths surrounding PCOS throughout the month. ...
🔥Hot take: you don't have to live with excruciating period pain! Sure, periods are no walk in the park. But, if you're struggling with heavy, painful periods month after month, there may be treatments that can help. Don't be afraid to speak up if something feels off! 📣Your Axia Women's Health provider can help you find relief. ...
Maintaining a healthy vaginal pH can help ward off common infections, including yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis. Swipe through to learn about possible triggers that can disrupt your pH and what you can do to keep it in check.
#vaginalhealth #vaginalcare #whatsupdownthere #vaginalph #vaginalflora #UTIs #yeastinfection #womenshealth #whatsupdownthere ...
It's an unfortunate reality that women are three times more likely than men to experience migraine. (Thanks, hormones!) 😒If you suffer from migraine around your period, you're not alone. Fortunately, certain forms of birth control can help provide relief. 🙏🏻Talking with your Axia Women's Health provider can help you find the right option for you!
#migraine #womenshealth #headache ...
With the warm summer months comes an increased risk of developing a urinary tract infection. That's because the hot sumer weather can create a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Here are some tips to help you ward off UTIs, and keep on enjoying your summer! 👙☀️
#summerhealth #whatsupdownthere #vaginalhealth #womenshealth #UTIs #summer #healthylifestyle ...
It's true that during pregnancy and around our menstrual cycles our natural balance of progesterone and estrogen can be disrupted. This imbalance can create an ideal environment for Candida fungi, the bacteria involved in yeast infections, to grow. 🤔
Fortunately, several over the counter medications can help the infection clear up within a few days. 💊
But if you're experiencing recurrent infections, it's a good idea to chat with your Axia Women's Health provider. 💬
#yeastinfection #vaginalhealth #whatsupdownthere ...