Learn how to deal with unusual bleeding by charting your period

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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.

How to recognize heavy bleeding

If you know any of these symptoms, then you may be experiencing heavy bleeding. Heavy bleeding can cause you to lose iron and make you anaemic (weak and tired). If you are concerned, visit your doctor right away.

If your period lasts longer than seven days

If it is a heavy period that requires a lot of pad or tampon changes each day (changing after two hours or less)

If your period comes with gushing (sudden surges of flow) or clots

If you just had a baby, once your period resume, the bleeding may be heavier than before you became pregnant. If this is the case, you might need to reconsider your choice of feminine protection or step up the absorbency from your pre-baby days or choose alternatives such as pads.

How to recognize irregular periods

Many women experience irregular periods at some time in their lives. It is common for periods to sometimes be somewhat irregular.

Around age 9–16 years, your periods may not occur on schedule in the first few years after you start to have them.

Near age 35 years, the cycle may get shorter.

After childbirth, if you breastfeed, your periods generally won’t return until you stop.

Around age 50 years, the cycle often gets shorter as you near menopause and it also is normal then to skip periods or for bleeding to get lighter or heavier.

The exact causes of irregular periods can vary and are often quite normal. However, you’re the best judge of what is normal for you. If you have a sudden change in the regularity of your periods, make sure you chart your symptoms and contact your doctor.

How to keep track of your body cycles

Charting your period symptoms on a period calendar or monthly cycle calendar helps you predict your periods, note changes in your body and track possible premenstrual symptoms. Note down any changes you think are unusual.

 How long is your period?

Mark down the days of your period on a calendar. The first day of your period is also 'Day One' of your monthly cycle. If you begin to chart your cycle each month, you'll see a pattern. A normal cycle is 21 to 35 days.

 How heavy or light is your flow?

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.

 What’s your basal body temperature (BBT)?

Get hold of a digital BBT or fertility thermometer from your chemist and a graph from your gynaecologist and just take your temperature first thing in the morning.

 Any unusual vaginal secretions (spotting, in between periods, any change in vaginal secretions such as colour and amount, particularly if it's itchy or smelly, vaginal lubrication problems, gushes)

 Any pelvic pain or cramps whether or not it’s linked to your period

 Depression, mood swings and irritability

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