Tiredness, fatigue, pain, discomfort, mood swings are the usual side-effects a woman experiences during her monthly menstrual cycle. But the subject is considered a taboo and hence a lot of women are hesitant to talk about it. But discussing about feminine health is the first step to understand your body better and making sure that you are completely healthy. For instance, many women do not completely understand the difference between a normal period symptom and a symptom that is abnormal.

The abnormality in periods should not be ignored and needs immediate medical attention. Below we discuss symptoms that could be a sign of abnormal periods, that women need to pay attention to.

1 Extreme Heavy Bleeding: There is a significant difference between a heavy flow and extremely heavy bleeding. You do not need to worry if you pad is covered with blood, that is normal. But if you use more than five pads or tampons a day and they are thick with blood, it is important to talk to your ob-gyn about potential hormonal imbalances (like PCOS) and health concerns. The reasons for heavy bleeding could be fibroids (non-cancerous growths in the uterus), endometriosis, Intrauterine device (IUD) or pregnancy complications.

2 Intense Cramping: Cramps are a normal part of periods and are caused by uterine contractions that push out your uterine lining. They typically start a day or two before your flow begins. Some women may experience cramps that are mild and not bothersome. While others have more severe cramps called dysmenorrhea. Other possible causes of painful cramps include adenomyosis (like endometriosis), pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and stress. Medical attention is advised to rule out more severe causes.

3 Breast Pain: Breasts feel a little tender during your periods. The cause of the discomfort is likely fluctuating hormone levels. Sometimes the pain goes right up to your armpit where there is some breast tissue called the ‘Tail of Spence’. But if your breasts hurt or the pain doesn’t coincide with your monthly cycle, get checked out.

4 Diarrhoea or Vomiting: Some women normally get an upset stomach during menstruation. According to studies, at least 70% of women reported having abdominal pain, diarrhoea or both around the time of their period. If these symptoms aren’t normal for you, they could indicate PID. Excessive diarrhoea or vomiting can cause dehydration. Some women also go through painful bowel movements and this could be unrelated to your cycle. However, if these occur only during your period, you might have endometriosis. Mild pain during bowel movements while on your period is normal, but severe pain could be your uterine lining growing onto your appendix or bowels.

5 Bleeding Between Periods: Causes of bleeding between periods include skipping or changing birth control pills (not serious), STDs, an injury to your vagina (such as during sex), uterine polyps, pregnancy, miscarriage, perimenopause or cervical, ovarian or uterine cancer.

6 Large Blood Clots: Ideally your menstrual blood should flow easily, the presence of large clots during periods is not normal. These clots can also get stuck inside the uterine opening, causing clogs and other serious illnesses. You may have fibroids if clots larger than a quarter persist.

Every woman’s period cycle is different. While some may bleed for two to three days, others may bleed for a whole week, cramps could be mild or intensely painful. If your periods stay consistent, there’s no reason to worry about them. However, you should always be vigilant in case you experience any changes to your monthly menstrual cycle.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Apr 29, 2018 11:17 AM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).