I’m a women’s health doctor- here are the period symptoms you should never ignore

Every month, millions of women go through their periods, dealing with symptoms that range from annoying to downright debilitating.

Many women recognize the characteristic cramps, strange cravings and irritability that come with their time of the month, but there are three menstrual symptoms that women should pay more attention to, according to Dr. Raj Arora, a British GP who specializes in menstrual health. women. .

She warned on TikTok that if you’re experiencing sharp back pain, dizziness or pain that makes it difficult to function, you should “talk to your doctor.”

These three symptoms are “not normal and you should never ignore them” because they can be signs of underlying conditions, including some linked to depression and infertility, she explained.

Dr. Raj Arora specializes in women’s health issues and has been open about her own diagnosis of endometriosis

Extreme pain that makes it difficult to move could be a sign that you are dealing with an underlying condition such as endometriosis or polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)

Extreme pain that makes it difficult to move could be a sign that you are dealing with an underlying condition such as endometriosis or polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)

Each month, if the egg a woman releases from her ovary is not fertilized by sperm to develop into a fetus, the body naturally sheds the lining of the uterus, resulting in a woman’s menstruation.

Some unpleasant symptoms are normal during a period, including bloating, cramps, breast tenderness and irritability. But there is a limit to the amount of suffering that is normal.

Sometimes, Dr. Arora said, the symptoms you have each month are a sign of something more serious.

“I often tell my patients that periods are a normal part of life and that they should generally be painless and manageable,” she explains on her TikTok.

But she warned about three.

First, sharp back pain during your time of the month can be a sign that you have a condition called endometriosis, said Dr. Arora, who deals with the condition herself.

Endometriosis affects about 11 percent of American women — about 6.5 million people, according to the US Bureau of Women’s Health (OAS)

It is a condition in which the tissue that normally grows on the inside of the uterus begins to grow outside of it – on the ovaries, fallopian tubes or other internal organs.

The tissue in your uterus is shed every month during your menstrual cycle, but the extra tissue in misplaced parts of your body has nowhere to go in response to monthly hormonal changes, leading to a wide range of uncomfortable symptoms.

This can include painful sex, bloating, nausea, fatigue, depression and infertility. Between 30 and 50 percent of people diagnosed with the condition may experience infertility, according to Massachusetts General Hospital.

Experts don’t know what causes endometriosis, but it’s likely a combination of your genes, hormones and immune system, or could be related to trauma from surgery, according to OASH.

Because it is so poorly understood, it takes an average of eight years after developing symptoms for someone to be diagnosed with endometriosis.

Then there’s the concern about dizziness during your period.

Dr. Arora said that if you faint or feel dizzy or lightheaded during your period, it could be a sign that you are bleeding a lot more than your body can handle.

This could be a sign of an underlying condition – such as a hormonal imbalance, uterine fibroids or polyps – and may require treatment, Dr. Arora said.

Uterine fibroids are benign tumors that grow in the uterus. It is not known what causes this, but long-term exposure to estrogen can increase the risk of fibroids. They can be removed or treated with medication.

Finally, Dr. Arora cautioned that if your menstrual cramps are so painful that you have trouble getting out of bed during your cycle, you should see a doctor.

This can be a symptom of many reproductive conditions that can affect your fertility or quality of life, including uterine fibroids, pelvic inflammatory disease, adenomyosis or cervical stenosis, or polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

None of these conditions are life-threatening, but if you go to a doctor and discover you have one, you may be a good candidate for treatment that will resolve your painful periods.

For example, if a doctor has discovered that you have uterine fibroids (which are not essentially cancerous growths), he or she may be able to relieve your symptoms by treating the area with surgery, medications, or focused ultrasound. according to Mayo Clinic.

Other conditions, such as PCOS, are sometimes treated solely by using hormonal birth control.

If you experience any of these symptoms, Dr. Arora advises you to go to the doctor. “You shouldn’t just tolerate it,” she said.