Break free from problem periods

Dr Annie Evans Dr Annie Evans Consultant Women's Health Specialist (Retired)
Feeling trapped by your period? Consultant women's health specialist, Dr Annie Evans has this advice.

When a girl gets her first period, she might start out thinking it will all go like clockwork – every 28 days they’ll have a bleed, it will last a few days and that will be it. But that sometimes turns out to be very far from the truth. Instead, two common problems arise.

Irregular periods

Frustratingly, periods can be consistently inconsistent. Many women are caught out by short gaps between them, or panicked by late periods – sometimes suspecting pregnancy when delays happen suddenly.

Painful periods

For others there is some degree of regularity, but periods instead come with considerable pain and heavier bleeding than might be expected.

When women talk to their sisters or their mothers about these issues, they might be told that it’s normal. This is because problem periods often run in families. So it can be very difficult for women to know and understand exactly what ‘normal’ might be. These issues can have a huge impact on women’s lives – getting in the way of social activities, sport and relationships. Unpredictable bleeds or severe pain can leave some women stuck at home, afraid of the consequences of being caught out.

The pill and your period

Many women don’t realise that they can link up the contraceptive pill they take to avoid having an unplanned pregnancy with the management of their period. In fact, the pill was first developed as a menstrual cycle regulator to give women lighter and shorter bleeds.

Modern day pills offer a variety of hormone mixes to suit individuals. This allows us to help women choose a pill that’s right for them so they can know when their bleed will happen and that it will be less painful and more manageable. Women can even choose to avoid their period when they want to. There are other contraceptive methods, including loading small amounts of hormones into the womb, that can stop periods altogether.

You don’t have to put up with problem periods. Tell your GP or a women’s health specialist what you’re experiencing, and in most cases they’ll be able to help find a way to manage it.

Last updated Friday 14 December 2018

First published on Monday 13 June 2016