To all the ladies reading this, if you're feeling pain even before the onset of period bleeding, beware! There might be an underlying condition you need to address.
A/Prof Fong is a renowned gynaecologist with multiple achievements under his belt. In 2014, he led a team to transplant ovarian tissue back into a patient with ovarian failure, which led to Asia’s first baby conceived naturally from implanted ovarian tissue. Now, how’s that for an achievement!
He was featured on DxD Sessions and answered many readers' questions on the things that make periods cramp-worthy. From the causes of painful periods to abnormal bleeding, here's what he had to share.
Bleeding in between periods? It could just be ovulation
Some women experience mid-cycle spotting for a couple of days. Usually, this is a sign of ovulation.
A little dip in the level of hormones produced by the ovary occurs during the ovulation process. This results in slight spotting before the levels build up quickly again.
If you've taken the birth control pill and it stops the mid-cycle spotting, it indicates ovulation as the likely reason for the mid-cycle bleeding. This is because the birth control pill works by inhibiting ovulation (hence preventing pregnancy).
Mid-cycle spotting due to ovulation lasts 1-2 days and should clear quickly.
Bleeding continuously for 3 weeks? It may be something more serious
According to A/Prof Fong, bleeding continuously for more than 3 weeks is very unusual. Normal menstruation cycles do not last beyond 1 week!
For young women, hormonal changes related to delayed ovulation could be the cause.
However, other possibilities might include more serious ailments, like:
- infection of the genital tract
Keep an eye on the number of clots during your period
A/Prof Fong indicated that clots can appear in different amounts, from cycle to cycle. However, you should watch out for a consistent increase in clots over a number of cycles.
An increase in blood clots could be a sign of fibroids (muscular growths along the uterus) or polyps (excess outgrowths from the womb lining).
These could interfere with future pregnancies. It’s best to have a checkup before anything serious happens.
Irregular menses could point to womb cancer
The normal cycle length ranges between 24 to 38 days.
Most women should have a menstrual bleed each month.
Having menses only 2-3 times a year could be a sign of polycystic ovarian syndrome.
In simpler terms, this is when eggs overproduce estrogen, which thickens the womb lining and increases the risk of cancer.
Severe and consistent bloating in the abdomen could be caused by growths
For the most part, A/Prof Fong considers bloating and cramping to be "vague" symptoms, since they do not specifically point to any organ or structure in the body.
These could just be caused by hormonal changes in younger females. However, severe cases of bloating might point to other medical conditions like endometriosis, or growths within the pelvis such as ovarian cysts.
Going on a trip? Here's the best method to delay your period
An all-too-familiar scenario among women: preparing for a long trip only to realise that it coincides with your period. Don’t you hate it when that happens?!
If only you could hit the pause button on the bloodbath for just a little while. Fortunately, you can!
A/Prof Fong suggests taking some hormone pills at least 3-4 days before your menstrual period is due. Then, continue throughout the trip till you are back.
Once home, you'll be able to stop the hormone pills and let your period resume its annoying routine.
Smelly, white discharge after periods? It could be an infection
A young female reader mentioned that she was sexually active, and had experienced a foul-smelling, white discharge after her period, as well as itching when she had to pee.
A/Prof Fong's response? Get it checked!
White discharge is often associated with fungal/ yeast infections. There may also be a bacterial infection which may or may not be sexually transmitted.
Your choice of contraceptive pills may be the cause of heavy spotting between periods
Experiencing spotting between periods which increasingly become heavier? Can switching contraceptive pills help? Well, it depends…
A/Prof Fong warned that this intermittent bleeding (aka breakthrough bleeding) could be caused by various factors, such as:
- A temporary drop in the level of hormones from irregular pill taking
- A lowered level of the contraceptive hormone from long-term medication, or
- Pills with an ultralow dose of hormones
Don’t be a hero. Make sure you get your regular Pap smear screening and see a doctor if the bleeding persists even after a switch of pills.
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