By Toni BrannaganMedically reviewed by Dr. Brandi Jones, DO
I get it. No one likes going to the gynecologist. It’s not fun to have someone platonically poking around down there, but unfortunately, it’s a veeeerrryy necessary evil.
Hopefully, y’all have found a trusted gyno who you’re comfortable with, and you’re scheduling annual physicals. And while I’m sure the *last* thing you want to do is cough-up an extra co-pay for additional visits, there are a few reasons why you might really wanna give them a ring.
Besides, getting ahead of any health issue is better than waiting for a diagnosis, and your doctor will be able to help you tackle whatever comes. Plus, changes to your flow can be unpredictable AF, and incited due to anything from stress to exercise to diet changes, so I can definitely see how it could be tough to decide what necessitates a trip to the doc.
Here are some irregularities to look out for that are worth scheduling a visit:
more than three skipped periods
Few of us *want* our periods… until it randomly decides to skip town. Absent menstruation, aka amenorrhea, is defined by Auntie Flo no-showing for three to six months.
While pregnancy is usually the most common cause, your period can be delayed due to a number of other reasons, including external stressors, changes to your lifestyle, and your hormone levels. You can rule out pregnancy with an at-home test, but if that’s not the case, your doctor can help you figure out what’s going on, and a course of action to bring back yo’ flow.
a *too heavy* flow
It can be tough to figure out how heavy is too heavy when it comes to your period. For one, most of us aren’t very, uh, idk, let’s just say “proactive bleeders.” I don’t know about you, but tracking what’s coming out down there isn’t a particularly straightforward task.
But chances are if you’re bleeding *too* much the signs are already there. According to Mayo Clinic, signs of menorrhagia (the offish term for abnormally heavy or prolonged bleeding), include soaking through disposable period products “every hour for several consecutive hours,” a period that lasts longer than a week, blood clots that are larger than a quarter (yikes), as well as symptoms of anemia (like low energy, dizziness, or shortness of breath).
Some of us naturally have heavier flows than others, but if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, a chat with your gyno could never hurt!
If you’ve ever been on the pill, you’re probably veeerrryy familiar with rando spotting (pour one out to all those cute undies that lost their lives to leaks). However, beyond being super-annoying, breakthrough bleeding—bleeding outside of your normal menstrual cycle—can also be a sign of fibroids, a miscarriage, or certain STIs.
It’s definitely worth keeping an eye on!
Say it with me: Pain! Isn’t! Normal!
Okay, let’s be real — we all know that there’s a certain amount of *discomfort* that comes along with having a period. However, *pain* that stops you from going about your day, or even makes it very difficult, could be your body warning you of another issue that needs to be addressed.
Some causes of painful periods include endometriosis, fibroids, PCOS, and adenomyosis — it can be scary to face conditions you can barely pronounce, let alone fully understand, but getting a diagnosis from your gynecologist is the first step to taking back control of your body.
When it comes down to it, an irregular period is easiest to identify when you’re familiar with your regular period. Remember, regular is different for *every body*!
Tracking your flow, whether it’s manually or through an app, alongside symptoms that arise throughout your cycle, is a simple and effective way to stay on top of your health — and it’ll make catching your gyno up easier too.
How do you keep up with any irregularities in your cycle? Share your methods with us in the comments!