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Body

4 reasons to see your GP about your periods

Some women experience period issues which need to be referred to a GP. Find out what they are.

Your periods stop

From when your periods begin (and settle into a cycle) as a young woman until the time of the menopause, you will experience regular monthly menstrual periods. These usually follow a cycle of around 28 days, although a pregnancy or miscarriage may cause irregularity.

If you’re under 45 years old and your periods suddenly stop, and you’ve had sex in the previous month, a pregnancy test is advised. If you’re not pregnant, the NHS advises that if you have missed more than three periods in a row you should see your GP. Some common, non-pregnancy causes for missed periods are sudden weight loss, over exercising, stress or a condition such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

You experience heavy bleeding and/or very painful periods

Very heavy bleeding or lower back and pelvic pain during menstruation can be the sign of an issue such as fibroids or endometriosis. Fibroids are benign growths in the muscle of the womb, while with endometriosis, tissue that behaves like the lining of the womb is found in other parts of the body. Rarely, heavy bleeding can be a symptom of womb cancer. [Link  

You bleed between periods or after sex

While bleeding between periods is common in the first three months of starting hormonal contraception such as the pill, it can also be a sign of an infection, abnormalities in the cervix, polyps, fibroids or, in rare cases, cancer. If you’re experiencing such bleeds – or have blood-stained or offensive discharge – it’s best to visit your GP to help find the cause.

Bleeding after menopause or while taking HRT

If, 12 months after your periods have stopped, you experience bleeding or spotting, it’s important to see your doctor. Professor Hasib Ahmed, consultant gynaecologist at the Benenden Hospital, stresses the importance of seeing your doctor urgently. He says: “Post-menopausal bleeding must not be ignored. In one in 10 cases, a treatable cause is found – and we need to be sure there is no womb cancer.”

If you’ve been prescribed a cyclical hormone-replacement therapy, you should have a regular, period-type withdrawal bleed, but you should consult a doctor if you experience bleeding or spotting at unexpected times. If you take the continuous combined preparation, you shouldn’t have a bleed. Make a GP appointment if you notice persistent spotting or period-like bleeding.

 

This article covers some common symptoms women may notice that indicate they should see their GP. If you are concerned about your periods or symptoms you’re having, make a GP appointment. Benenden members can get round-the- clock medical advice from a qualified, UK-based doctor by calling the GP 24/7 advice line. Find out more here.