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Don’t Live with Period Problems: Speak Up!

Posted on June 03, 2024

So many people are too shy or embarrassed to talk about their period problems, and that’s a major issue.  If you don’t speak up, you may worry needlessly or you may never identify symptoms that indicate a bigger medical issue. In order to help you navigate this sensitive subject, we’re breaking down what’s normal and what’s not when it comes to your monthly visitor. Keep in mind, however, that every woman’s cycle is different, so it’s worth mentioning any major changes to your OBGYN, even if they are seemingly within the normal range.

Unfortunately, too many women have grown up in a culture of silence. They learned from parents not to talk about women's problems. And that's troubling, since changes in your period are often a warning sign of uterine fibroids.

That was the case for three-time Olympian Magdalena Moshi, from Tanzania. Growing up in Africa, she said it was taboo to talk about her cycle. As such, she never knew that fibroids ran in her family. Ultimately, that meant she avoided treating these growths...until she needed emergency surgery to remove four kilograms of fibroids from her uterus. Now, she wants other women to avoid this fate. So, listen to her story here. And keep reading to learn more about your period, and why it's a key health indicator for many women.

What is your period?

A period is the shedding of your uterine lining. This lining builds up over the course of the month in preparation for pregnancy. If you don’t get pregnant, your hormone levels drop, and the lining separates from your uterus. That’s when you experience the bleeding known as your period.

Pain with your Cycle

Normal: Stomach pain or cramps that start in your stomach but may spread to your thighs or back. A sharp stomach pain or dull ache may also be a problem. Typically, normal period pain lasts about three days, and resolves once your flow lightens.

Not Normal: Experiencing mild to severe pain, or noticing that your period has become more painful over time.  While the pain may intensify during your period, it can impact you at any time of the month.

Period Problems: Bleeding

Normal: Women’s periods are typically heavier at the start of their cycle, and gradually become lighter.

Not Normal: If you have to change your pad or tampon more than every few hours; if you are bleeding through protection or having to get up at night to change your protection so you avoid stained sheets; if you have to stay in bed due to heavy periods; or if you are passing large clots, you may be experiencing abnormal bleeding. Of course, excess bleeding is its own problem because of anemia risks. But it could also be a sign of underlying problems like fibroids, certain cancers or other medical concerns.

That was the case for Kym Lee, a celebrity makeup artist who received a fibroids diagnosis after reporting symptoms such as heavy periods and painful cramps. Unfortunately, she didn't receive treatment counseling at the time. And so, she didn't seek treatment until, one day, she bled so heavily that she passed out in her garage. At that point, she needed an emergency hysterectomy. But, had she sought treatment earlier, she could have availed herself of less invasive treatment options.

Is Clotting a Sign of Period Problems?

Normal: When you’re flowing regularly, you may notice some smaller blood clumps (or clots), especially on your heaviest days.

Not Normal: If you’re passing larger clots—anything bigger than the size of a quarter—that’s a sign of possible problems. Even if your clots are smaller, but you see them frequently, it’s worth discussing with your healthcare provider.

When is Timing an Issue?

Normal: Again, all women are unique, but ‘normal’ cycles range from 21 to 35 days between the first day of one period to the first day of the next. The bleeding typically lasts between three and eight days.

Not normal: Once you’re out of adolescence and have established your normal cycle range, any major timing changes could be problematic. Missing a few cycles when you aren’t pregnant? That’s something to discuss with your doctor. Bleeding outside of your regular period, or during or after sex? Another issue to discuss with a medical caregiver. Getting two periods in a month? Talk about it! Because changes in your cycle often indicate that your body is under stress. Figure out what's causing stress before you develop other problems.


Normal: Mild discomfort during your period is normal, and should be easily managed with OTC medications. Standard cramps or period-related discomfort shouldn’t affect your day-to-day life.

Not normal: Pain that can’t be managed with drugstore medications is a sign of a problem. Pain that causes nausea and vomiting should also be cause for concern, especially if the pain begins to radiate down your legs. Excessive pain could be an indication of endometriosis or adenomyosis, conditions that are difficult to diagnose if women aren’t forthcoming about their symptoms.

Pelvic pain experienced outside of your period is also not ‘normal’ and should be investigated further, as it is a potential indication of fibroids.

Lifestyle Changes

Normal: You may slow down or rest a bit more while on your period, but it's your choice. You easily keep up with your regular routine and everyday demands.

Not normal: Your period leaves you exhausted and barely able to make it through your day, let alone add on extras like time with friends or bonus sweat sessions (which is a shame, since exercise can help combat menstrual cramps.) Sometimes, your period is so intrusive, you have to call in sick to work or skip school. These are signs that you may have anemia because of excessive blood loss. Which certainly means you need to talk to your doctor about abnormal periods!

Thankfully, treatment is available for almost all the conditions that make your period “not normal.” But the only way to receive help is to speak up, so discuss any menstrual cycle changes with your doctor as soon as you identify an issue! And, if fibroids are the cause of your period problems, click here to request a treatment consultation with our specialists in Houston.

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