A woman doesn’t always think about the health of her reproductive system until she wants to have a baby. At this point, it may be too late. As with most things involving a person’s health, it is always better to be proactive, and make sure you attend regular appointments with your medical team, and this includes a gynecologist.
A lot of women do not regularly see their gynecologist. They wait until there is something concerning before making that check-up appointment. There is a problem with that process though. A woman’s reproductive system is a mystery to a lot of people, including doctors. There may be signs that something is not quite right, but women chalk it up to them being stressed or they are just having an off month.
There are a lot of indicators that women can use to gauge how healthy their reproductive system is, and the biggest tool we have is our menstrual cycle. Sometimes, our menstrual cycle can tell us a lot about how healthy we are and what is going on down there; but we don’t always listen when we should.
Now, if a woman has any of these signs, it does not always mean a severe problem. We know the trouble people get into when they start searching for their symptoms on the internet. However, they are signs that it may be time to talk to your doctor and see if it is something you should worry about. Especially if you are trying to conceive, because now is the time when someone would need to know if everything is working down there.
15 Severe Pain (Should Be A Giveaway!)
Intense pain is normally the one thing that will send us all running to the doctor or even the hospital. However, we don’t tend to do it when it comes to cramps during our period. Mild to moderate cramps are normal and to be expected, however severe cramps are not. If the cramps are so intense that they are interfering with your life in any way than they should be looked at.
If cramps and pains are keeping you from work, school or just tying you in bed all day it is not normal, and a woman should seek medical attention. There are many reasons why a woman can be experiencing severe cramps, and this could be due to her uterus making too much of a hormone called prostaglandins; which can be a sign of endometriosis or other reproductive issues. Advil will be your best friend while you wait to get into an appointment.
14 Is It … Heavy?
No one likes to talk about the details when it comes to our reproductive system, it is a bit uncomfortable. This may be the reason a lot of women wait until going to the doctor. They don’t want to sit in a room and discuss their monthly flow with anyone, let alone a virtual stranger. However, these conversations need to happen to ensure that everything is healthy and working the way it should be.
If your flow is heavy, it is a sign that something weird is going on. So, what exactly is heavy? A “normal” period lasts between 3-7 days, and it is normal for a woman to go through 3-6 tampons/pads each day. What is not normal is if you bleed for longer than 7 days, and if you are going through a tampon/pad every hour. This is a sign that your period is abnormal, and it wouldn’t hurt to talk to your doctor about it.
13 Nothing At All … Where Is It?
We said before that it may seem like a dream to not ever have to deal with a period. To never have to worry about a leak or pain for a week. However, this is not normal, and it could be a sign that something is not right. Of course, the first step after you miss a period is to take a pregnancy test, if this comes back negative it is important to check in with your doctor.
No pregnancy test is 100% accurate, so there is still a chance you are pregnant, and your doctor will have that confirmed with a blood test. If you are not pregnant, there are certain conditions that can make your period absent. Some of the reasons could be PCOS (which we will discuss later in the article), certain medications and stress. There are other cases where the reason is a lot more serious, but only a doctor is going to be able to tell you that.
12 The Wrong Colour
Here we have another ‘gross’ symptom that needs to be discussed, and that is discharge. Every woman experiences discharge, it is the way our nether regions clean themselves out, did you know they are self-cleaning? However, there are certain things to watch out for when it comes to discharge that can be a sign something is not right.
If you notice your discharge is yellow, pale or has a bad smell attached too it, you will want to get that checked out. There are several reasons why this could be happening. Discharge that is green in colour is normally a sign of an STI (sexually transmitted infection). A yellow coloured discharge could be a sign that there is inflammation in your cervix. If discharge has blood in it accompanied with a foul smell, it could be a sign of something more serious, like cervical cancer, so it is always important to get checked out.
11 Excessive Hair Growth
Did you know that excessive hair growth can be a sign that something is not right with your reproductive system? Women grow hair all over their body, but thanks to the increase in estrogen and lack of testosterone it is limited to certain areas of the body. If a woman has hair growth in places that are typically seen with males it could be a sign that she has polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
PCOS is a condition that is ruled by hormones. PCOS is when your body produces an increased level of the androgen hormones. This can impact proper ovulation for a woman and can make it very difficult to conceive because she is not ovulating every month. Other than hair growth some other symptoms can include acne, weight gain and fertility issues. This condition is manageable, so it is important to speak to your doctor if you suspect you have it.
10 It’s Not Always Just Bloat!
There are a lot of uncomfortable and unwanted symptoms that come with a menstrual cycle, and one of them is bloating. Bloating happens to a lot of women on their period, and it is normally just due to hormones and is no reason to worry. There is a point where something more serious often gets mistaken as just normal bloat.
Abdominal swelling will sometimes be mistaken for bloat, but this could be a fatal mistake. Abdominal swelling is often described as a “pregnant tummy” and that is because it causes a woman to look like she is pregnant, even though she is not. If this is happening and nothing you do makes it ease or go away it needs to be discussed with a doctor. This could be a sign of ovarian cancer. This is also one of the only reliable symptoms for this form of cancer, which often goes undetected until it is in its final stages.
9 Irregular Cycles
Like we stated, a menstrual cycle is a woman’s biggest indicator if everything is fine, or if something is a little weird or not quite right. Brian Wu is a MD who wrote an article for LifeHack about signs to look for when it comes to a monthly period for a woman, and he states that the biggest indicator that something is not right is if you have an irregular cycle.
Having your period is no fun, so it may seem like a good thing if a woman skips a month or two, but it is actually potentially harmful. Many believe a healthy cycle is 28 days, but that is not always true. Anything between 21 and 45 days are considered normal as long as they stay in that pattern. Women who are just starting their period or are entering menopause can expect some irregularity. However, if you are not in either of those groups, a conversation with your doctor should happen.
8 Skin? Really?
We don’t often think about our skin, and the power it holds. Our skin has the power to tell us a lot about our health, if we would only just listen. This may seem a little odd, but if you have never had a good look at what is going on downstairs, it may be a good idea to take a mirror to it. Our skin in our private area can tell us a lot about our health, and we may never know something is wrong if we don’t know what it looked like in the first place.
If you start to notice any discolouration or appearance of moles or other lumps, it is important to get them checked out by the doctor. For the most part, they are going to come back fine, but there is always a chance that something else is wrong and we need to know before anything has a chance to get worse. Therefore, it is so important to make sure you are attending your regular physical appointments for pap smears, it may not be the most fun thing to do, but your reproductive system will thank you.
7 Difficulty Conceiving … Duh!?
If you are trying for a baby, then you have never been more interested in your reproductive system. A lot of couples think that when they start trying to conceive, it will only be a matter of months before they are pregnant, and they may start getting worries as a few months pass and there is a lack of pink lines. This is common. It can take a couple at healthy fertility age up to a year to conceive a child. They will likely not be sent to a fertility center until after a year has passed.
If you have been trying for over a year to conceive a child and nothing has happened, it may be a sign that something is wrong with your reproductive system. Infertility is a common concern, about 1 in every 8 women is battling fertility concerns. The reasons are anything from a thyroid issue to a low egg reserve, and only a team of medical professionals will be able to help you through.
6 How Big Is Your Uterus?
Has anyone ever thought about how big their uterus is? Probably not, we just assume everything is fine and the right size and in the right place. There is a condition in which a woman’s uterus is bigger than the average size. It is called Uterine Hypertrophy, and the word hypertrophy means that an organ is bigger than it is supposed to be. The average, healthy size of a woman’s uterus is between 2.5-9.8 inches.
There are signs that a woman has a larger uterus and some of them are: heavy bleeding, clots, urinating often and bleeding in between periods. It is important to talk to your doctor about any of these symptoms, as this condition can easily be diagnosed with an ultrasound. The reproductive system is tricky, and there are multiple reasons for all symptoms, so it is important to get a doctor to help you narrow it down.
5 Tired And Blocked Up Together!
Another common concern for women who are trying to conceive is endometriosis. Endometriosis is a condition in which the uterine lining grows outside the uterus. This lining may grow on the fallopian tubes, ovaries or even the bladder/bowel. Two of the main symptoms for this condition is the feeling of constipation and fatigue.
If you have always been regular and you start to notice that you are having a harder time going to the bathroom and all you want to do is sleep than you should speak to your doctor. Also watch out for heavy menstrual bleeding, nausea and diarrhea as those are all symptoms as well. Of course, these are also symptoms of being pregnant, so take a test just to make sure. The reproductive system is a tricky thing because symptoms can mean a lot of things, or nothing at all. Only a doctor and some tests will be able to tell you what is going on.
4 Being Toether Is Painful!
It is just biology that in order to conceive a child, a couple must get together. Of course, we are only speaking to those who are using this method to become parents. There are many other ways to conceive, carry and have a child. If you and your husband are trying for a baby, but the process to get there becomes painful, it may be a sign that something is not right.
It can hurt sometimes, if a woman is not ready or the man is a bit too rough, however it should not cause severe pain. If it does, you may be dealing with uterine fibroids. Fibroids are non-cancerous tumours that grow on the wall of your uterus. According to the CDC, 20% of women under 50 will develop uterine fibroids at some point in their life. There are simple medical procedures that can clear all those up.
Menopause is something that happens to every woman, it will come for us all eventually. However, there are many conditions that present like menopause, but are not actually menopause. Some women may experience premature ovarian failure, which means that your ovaries stop producing eggs and it normally happens to women before they turn 40. The reason this is not like menopause, is because women will still receive their monthly menstrual cycle, which will nor occur with normal menopause
Some of the signs that your body is going into ovarian failure are moodiness, hot flashes, difficulty concentrating and decreased libido. If you are actively trying to conceive, and you have any of these symptoms it may be worth talking to your doctor about this condition. If you do have it, they will be able to go over your options for you.
2 Too Dry!
We mentioned before that it is important for a woman to have discharge: that it is the body's way of cleaning itself. We discussed the warning signs to look out for when it comes to colour and smell of this discharge, however what happens if you do not have discharge at all? There are women out there who experience a very dry nether region cavity, and they think that it means there is something wrong.
Chances are, they are right. A dry area can be a problem, but not a big one. It is commonly due to birth control or other medications. A quick discussion with your doctor should help you narrow down what the problem is. Dryness can make a personal life very painful, and it does not help when a woman is trying to conceive. Mucus actually helps swimmers travel up to the fallopian tubes where it will (hopefully) meet up with an egg!
1 This Problem Is Psychological!
We live in a world where we know that mental health issues are no joke, and we have one for this list. Our bodies were made for reproducing, and to create and carry babies. If you notice that you clamp shut tight when things are heating up it could be a sign of vaginismus. This includes tampons, menstrual cups as well as gynecologist’s tools.
This condition is purely psychological. The problem has nothing to do with the biological make-up of your system, and everything to do with mental health. This condition causes the muscles to tighten, and it is done without the woman’s notice. She is not doing it on purpose and is not at fault. If you fear this is happening to you, it is a sign that something weird is going on and a doctor can help you work through it.