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While there are many WebMD-esque articles out there, most of them basically leave you with the impression that you’re about to die because of any tiny irregularity. Let us clarify our thoughts on the matter with a simple exploration of common problems to have during periods, along with the more important signs that indicate you should get medical attention.

While most women have some variation with their periods, if something is off down there, it’s important to know what’s going on and hopefully catch a problem before it gets worse. But let’s break down what (normally) goes with your flow and what to worry about.

Some women report having more frequent bowel movements while they are on their periods. This isn’t an abnormal occurrence as much as a chemical reaction. When you’re arriving at that time of the month, the body secretes chemical signals called prostaglandins. These are the chemical signals that tell the uterus to contract and expel the unused uterine lining. Now the thing is, prostaglandins aren't super picky about who’s receiving the signals. If the body sends enough of them to the uterus, stray prostaglandins will make it over to the bowel, and, well, you know what happens next.
If you experience lower back aches when it comes to your period periods, there’s nothing’s wrong with you. Many women experience it and it’s due to the fact that your body is contracting to rid itself of the uterine lining, this can sometimes press on blood vessels in the area which limits or cuts off the supply of oxygen to the nearby muscles causing the aches. Another perfectly normal reason suggested by medical professionals is that your cervix tends to dilate (minimally) on your period. If the phrase sounds familiar, yes, dilate as in to give way for a baby kind of dilate. On heavier period days, the cervix open ups to around one centimeter to allow the easier passing of the unused uterine lining. So unless the pains are debilitating, they are really quite normal bodily functions.
People tend to fixate on any little change in the colour of the discharge. Some go as far as to say that your period should look like cranberry juice from start to finish. Brighter period blood means that it’s a fresher batch of uterine lining. A browner hue just means that it’s been hanging on to your uterus a little longer. It may have just been the leftover lining that your body didn’t quite shake off from your last period and not an indicator of something gone seriously wrong.
Having a wonky period or two isn't usually a cause for concern. Your period can be affected by a any number of variables ranging from work stress to a change in diet or even a change in exercise regime. But if you're always irregular, then it might be time to talk to your doctor about it. The irregularity could be the result of a medical issue, like a thyroid condition, diabetes or the beginnings of ovarian failure.
Occasionally, you’ll find small clots of blood slipping out while you’re peeing and end up staring at it a good two minutes out of pure worry. Now, having the odd clot or two surface during your period is quite normal. But if you’re consistently having large blood clots slipping out, it could be a sign of uterine fibroids which you should be concerned about. These non-cancerous growths can develop in your uterus and cause weight gain, swelling, heavy bleeding and extreme pains. So if you notice persistent blood clots in your urine, perhaps consider a trip to the clinic to check things out.
And we’re not just talking about soaking through your period pad and staining the sheets. If you find yourself running to the bathroom every couple of hours because you need to replace your pad or tampon; or suffering through an oddly long cycle (lasting more than a week), you might want to consult with a doctor. There are plenty of things that can make this happen of course, stress being one of them, but it could also be a sign of anemia, hormonal imbalance, uterine polyps or uterine cancer. Basically, this is a problem you shouldn’t just ignore by bulk buying those heavy overnight pads and leaving it be.
While it's always good to have resources which improve our understanding of our health, sometimes there's no replacement for professional medical advice. Sometimes catching a health problem early can make all the difference, so if you find yourself uneasy about any particular symptom or irregularity you're having, speak to a doctor about it. For even more peace of mind, make sure you're well-protected with adequate medical coverage. Find out more about our medical protection solutions here.

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