Symptoms you need to tell your doctor about

Women often brush off unexplained body changes without letting their doctors know how they are feeling. Two doctors explain why you should always keep an open conversation with your physician and the dangers of ignoring what your body is telling you.

By Diana Faria

Symptoms you should tell your doctor about
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Many women find it embarrassing to complain about every ache and pain, and end up leaving their doctors in the dark about how they're really feeling. We asked Dr. Jerilynn C. Prior, scientific director at the Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research in Vancouver, and Dr. Kymm Feldman, family physician at Women's College Hospital in Toronto, what symptoms you should always tell your doctor about.

Skipping periods
If you just started your period or are age 45 or older, it's normal to skip periods.

"But if a woman who has been menstruating regularly misses a period, she needs to know why and needs to realize it carries a risk of bone loss," says Prior.

Thinning bones can lead to osteoporosis and eventually bone fractures. While missing a period now and then isn't a major concern, you should tell your doctor if it happens frequently. The problem may be that you don't weigh enough to be menstruating properly.

Heavy menstruation
Speak to your doctor if you're having heavier-than-usual periods, especially if they're outside of your regular cycle. Heavy menstruation may lead to iron deficiency anemia, which can play havoc with your productivity, feelings of self-worth and ability to exercise, says Prior.

According to Feldman, increased menstrual flow may be a result of infection or a symptom of hypothyroid, a condition in the thyroid gland that controls the body's metabolism. There's also a small chance that heavy menstruation outside of your regular cycle might be a sign of uterine cancer.

Change in your period pattern
Be mindful of your monthly flow, including how it usually feels and how strong your cramps normally are. If your menstrual cycle has been delayed and heavy bleeding follows, it might mean that you've had a "spontaneous miscarriage and need to see a doctor," explains Prior.

Some women brush off bleeding outside of their regular period days, excusing their bodies by saying they were simply "stressed out" that week. However, "stress doesn't really cause bleeding," says Feldman. "Bleeding outside of your cycle isn't generally normal and you should talk to your doctor about that."

Having your period outside of your regular cycle could be a sign of a thyroid problem or a sexually transmitted infection or tubular pregnancy if you have had unprotected sex.


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