If you have ever had a period before, you will know that there is very little about the overall experience that actually feels normal in any way. After all, periods involve shedding your uterine lining for five to seven days at a time, which is basically just a fancy way of saying that you will have blood coming out of your vagina for about a week. Now, this is normal–periods are a fact of life, and anyone who makes you feel like your period is gross or abnormal, just for the fact that it exists, is a bit of a jerk–but it doesn’t always feel that way, particularly when you’re actually on your period.
So, if being on your period never feels normal, how do you know if something actually isn’t normal? Of course, there is really only one way to tell–by visiting a doctor. I am not a doctor, obviously, so me pointing out some period symptoms that you may or may not have might not actually mean anything. But, if you aren’t quite sure if your period is normal or not, it can be useful to know some of the signs that it’s not, if only for your own peace of mind. So, check out these little signs that your period flow isn’t normal:
You Have A LOT Of ClotsEvery period has clots--those jelly-like blobs of blood that appear denser than the rest of your flow--so don't freak out if you have some. (If you're curious, they happen because your body can't break down all of the little bits of tissue from your uterine wall fast enough, so they come out in the form of clots. Again, they're totally normal.) But, if you have a lot of clots or they appear to be larger than usual--like, your period is basically all clot, or they're the size of a quarter--that might be an issue. This could mean that your uterine wall isn't shedding at a proper rate which can potentially lead to anemia, or it could be a sign of endometriosis, which is a condition in which the tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus is found on the outside. Image source: iStock
Your Period Lasts Longer Than a WeekAny period that lasts longer than seven days is considered to be "prolonged." (The clinical phrase for this, if you're wondering, is "menorrhagia.") Of course, things happen--you might have a period that's a little shorter than usual one month, or a little longer than usual the next month, and that isn't always something that you need to worry about. But if your period lasts for longer than a week every single month, you should get it checked out by a doctor--it could be nothing, but if you're bleeding so much that it's impacting your daily activities, you shouldn't have to deal with it on your own. Image source: iStock
You Need A Ton Of ProtectionMaybe your period doesn't last a super long time. But if every time you're on your period, you find that you have to wear a pad and a tampon, or you have to switch out your tampon every couple of hours, that's a big red flag. (So to speak.) This could be a sign of fibroids (noncancerous growths in the uterus that can cause heavy bleeding and cramps), a hormone imbalance, or a thyroid or clotting disorder. Image source: iStock
Your Period Is Super ThinYour flow doesn't have to be super heavy to be considered abnormal. In fact, a period flow that appears to be thinned out and light in color is often a sign that your estrogen is too low, which can affect the lining of the vagina and lead to a thin period. Of course, one or two months with a thin, light period isn't necessarily a cause for concern. But if it's something that happens every month--or if it stops altogether--you should definitely visit a doctor. Image source: iStock
You Have Awful CrampsCramps are something that, unfortunately, are a fact of life for many people. But if your cramps are legitimately debilitating--like, you literally can't do anything else while you're on your period--that could be a sign that you have endometriosis, which is a condition in which the lining that normally grows on the inside of the uterus grows on the outside instead. This often causes cysts to form around the uterus, which makes periods extremely painful. There are effective remedies for endometriosis, so if you feel like your cramps are next-level terrible, visit a doctor to get them sorted out. Image source: iStock
It Impacts Your SleepMost people feel sleepy when they're on their period. But if you have trouble sleeping during your cycle, this could be a sign of a hormonal imbalance called Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, which causes enlarged ovaries with small cysts on the outer edges. Other symptoms of PCOS include acne, weight gain, facial hair growth, and irregular periods. So, if you're experiencing any of those things, visit a doctor--they'll help you figure out some methods for dealing with it. Image source: iStock
You Spot A Lot Between PeriodsAt the very least, spotting between periods is super annoying. And, in some cases, it's a potential health issue--if you're consistently spotting when you aren't on your period, this could be a sign of anything from an STD to a hormone imbalance to a thyroid issue to emotional and physical stress, which can wreak havoc on your body. So, if you find that you're always spotting, go ahead and visit a doctor. Image source: iStock
Have you ever experienced any of these symptoms? Are there any other things that make you feel like your period isn’t normal? Let us know in the comments!