Many of us women consider periods an inconvenience we have to put up with for much of our adult lives, or at worst, if you suffer from bad PMT, heavy periods or cramps something you have to manage with medication and rest. But do you know all there is to know about them?
1. Swimming when you have your period – yay or nay?
The answer is yes, if you want to. There’s nothing unhygienic about swimming while your menstruating.
Gentle exercise can help tummy cramps by triggering the release of feel-good endorphins which alleviate pain. You don’t have to worry about catching a vaginal disease as skin infections and stomach upsets are a much bigger risk, as a result of swallowing water.
There are a few provisos. Some people may have a reaction to the chlorine which can cause itching around the vagina, that may go on to develop into a yeast or bacterial infection. You can limit the risk of this by showering afterwards, and try not to sit around in a wet swimsuit.
It’s unlikely you’ll leave a trail of blood in the water as water pressure usually temporarily stops the flow. However, it will start again when you get out, so you might want to use a tampon, menstrual cup, or absorbent swimming costume.
And for the record, there’s no evidence you’ll be more prone to shark attack. But if you’re worried swim in a pool.
2. Can I delay my period?
It’s possible to delay or skip your period, if say you’re going on holiday, and will be in and out of the water, or if you have an important presentation or interview and don’t want to feel unwell. With the help of your GP you can simply keep taking the combined hormonal contraceptive pills, without a break. Some hormonal contraceptives are designed so that you only have a period every three months.
If you have heavy periods, ask your doctor about tranexamic acid tablets. The tablets work by helping the blood in your womb to clot. They've been shown to reduce blood loss by around 50%.
3. Do you feel sexy in the run up to your period?
You’re more likely to flirt with other men – even if you’re in a committed relationship, and wear revealing clothes when you’re ovulating in the few days before your period, studies show. This is nature giving reproduction a helping hand as this is when you’re most fertile. It works both ways, as other studies show that men who were given the clothing of ovulating women to sniff experienced a surge in testosterone.
4. Is it normal to want sex during your period?
It’s quite common to feel amorous during your period. This is because progesterone (the libido diminishing hormone) is at its lowest, so you might find yourself craving intimacy.
5. Can you get pregnant when you’re menstruating?
The time of ovulation a day or so before your period is when you’re most likely to get pregnant. However, you can get pregnant at any time during your cycle. Your chances of getting pregnant steadily increase as you move out of menstruation and into the pre-ovulation phase.
6. What might be causing irregular periods?
You might expect your periods to be irregular in adolescence, pregnancy, and during perimenopause. But there are other factors that can cause periods to become erratic or stop altogether.
There are other causes of irregular periods, that you should discuss with your GP or nurse.
- Dramatic changes in your weight
- Medication: such as anti-epileptic drugs and anti-psychotics.
- Benign or malignant tumours
- Medical conditions: diabetes, thyroid imbalances, polycystic ovary syndrome and high levels of the hormone prolactin in your bloodstream.
- Bleeding can be a sign of womb cancer
7. What are the causes of heavy periods?
An average period is considered to be 3-5 table spoons of blood, but this can seem like more. These factors might cause your period to be heavier.
- Blood-thinning medications
- Ovarian cysts
- Some forms of intrauterine contraception
- Emergency contraception, or the morning after pill
8. Treatment for periods
Some procedures for heavy periods are suitable for ‘office gynaecology’, also known as ‘ambulatory gynaecology’, which means they are carried out without general anaesthetic and in treatment rooms rather than surgical theatres. This results in minimum disruption to daily life and faster recovery time.
What is a hysteroscopy and hysteroscopic resection?
A hysteroscopy is a procedure where the lining of the womb (uterus) can be assessed by direct visualisation with a telescope (hysteroscope) and a small camera. If fibroids and polyps are identified then these can be removed either during this assessment or at a later date using a special telescope which allows a piece of equipment to be passed through it which treats the fibroids and polyps (the MyoSure system) without any cuts or scars.
This is an alternative to hysterectomy that works by treating just the womb lining rather than removing the whole womb. It involves removal of the womb’s lining to treat heavy periods. The leading method of ablation is the NovaSure Endometrial Ablation, which requires no incisions and uses precisely measured radio frequency energy. Mr Francis Gardner, of London’s women’s clinic Twenty-five Harley Street, has achieved very high patient satisfaction with NovaSure, with women experiencing a 95 per cent reduction in menstrual dysfunction.
This treatment is the removal of fibroids or polyps from the womb. Hysteroscopic resection with MyoSure is an extremely safe treatment for fibroids and Mr Francis Gardner is the most experienced surgeon at performing this procedure in Europe. After assessment with a hysteroscope, the procedure is performed without any cuts or scarring.
Mr Francis Gardner and Mr Pandelis Athanasias Consultant Gynaecologists at Twenty-five Harley Street are experts in office gynaecology. Miss Tania Adib is a consultant gynaecologist and specialist in helping women to manage menopause.
Book an appointment with one of the doctors at Twenty-five Harley Street Day Clinic, 25 Harley Street, Marylebone London W1G 9QW. Telephone 020 3883 9525, or email [email protected]. Visit 25harleystreet.co.uk
The time of a woman’s life when her ovaries stop releasing an egg (ovum) on a monthly cycle, and her periods ceaseFull medical glossary