In the UK the average age for a girl to have her first period is 13 years. The majority of women will bleed for approximately 5 days every 28 days. Periods may start early (precocious puberty), may not start (primary amenorrhoea), may stop for no reason (secondary amenorrhoea), may occur too often (polymenorrhoea), may be associated with too much bleeding (menorrhagia) or may be very irregular.

There are many reasons why problems could occur including lifestyle issues (stress and weight change), other illnesses (thyroid and kidney problems for example) as well as gynaecological problems (fibroids or ovarian cysts). The investigation of period problems often includes a careful examination, pelvic ultrasound and blood tests.

Painful Periods

The medical term for painful periods is ‘dysmenorrhoea’. Period pain, experienced just prior to and during menstruation, can be extremely uncomfortable and frustrating as it can affect your confidence to live your life as normal. Pain starts in the uterus but can spread to the lower back and legs. Painful periods are more common in teenage women and women in their 40’s. If period pain is severe in a woman in her 30’s there is often another issue that needs exploring. Common causes of painful periods in a woman aged 30+ are fibroids, endometriosis and pelvic inflammatory disease. These issues are likely to cause discomfort a few days before a period and the start of true period pain.

The most effective treatment for period pain is the use of good pain control. Mr Braithwaite would recommend that you use a combination of Paracetamol and heat treatment to control the pain before and during menstruation. A hot water bottle is not just an old wives tale but is a very useful way of managing pain. You can also buy products now that emulate this effect in a more practical way, such as heat patches from companies like Nurofen and Cura-Heat.

If you are worried that your period pain is related to an underlying condition then this needs to be explored. You will need to have a transvaginal scan to review your uterus and ovaries. Mr Braithwaite does one of these scans during your annual check-up so rest assured it is a routine and painless procedure. If the scan reveals an underlying issue such as fibroids, endometriosis or pelvic inflammatory disease, Mr Braithwaite can discuss effective treatment with you.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease is treated with a course of antibiotics. The hormone coil is very effective at managing small to medium sized fibroids and endometriosis. Mr Braithwaite recommends the Mirena Coil and many of you will have heard him singing its praises. It is very effective at reducing your periods almost to the point of non-existence, as well as being a very good contraceptive.

If you would like to discuss any of these issues or just need some reassurance then please contact us with your concerns.

Heavy Periods

More than 1 in 5 women suffer from heavy periods. When your periods start to impact on how you feel or function, it may be time to consider whether you require treatment. Heavy periods may be because of a hormone imbalance, infection, fibroids, polyps, other illnesses or medication. Investigation of heavy periods usually involves an examination, blood tests and a pelvic ultrasound scan. Heavy periods may be treated by a variety of medications. The Mirena coil has had great success in this area.