Could My Heavy Period Be a Sign of Cervical Cancer?
Some people have heavy periods from their first menstrual flow. Menorrhagia is the medical term for periods that are longer or heavier than normal.
For other people, a heavier flow can start after many years of more typical periods. That change can occur for multiple reasons — some serious, some not. But it’s always a good idea to talk with your doctor about changes in your menstrual flow.
Symptoms of Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer is a condition that affects the lower part of the uterus. It starts with the development of pre-cancerous cells, typically in a region called the transformation zone where two different types of normal cells meet. However, in most cases, pre-cancerous cells go away without treatment.
If cervical cancer develops, the early symptoms include:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding like periods that are heavier or longer than usual, bleeding after sex, bleeding between periods, or bleeding after menopause
- Pain in the pelvic area
- Pain during sex
- Unusual discharge from the vagina, which may contain blood and may occur between periods
In more advanced cases of cervical cancer, symptoms can include:
- Blood in the urine
- Trouble urinating
- Trouble having a bowel movement
- Swelling of the legs
Other conditions, including fibroid tumors, infections, polyps, and cervicitis, can cause these symptoms, too. So, you shouldn’t assume that you have cancer if you experience them. But you also shouldn’t dismiss these symptoms.
It’s important to talk with your doctor right away if you notice any of the signs above. In addition to cervical cancer, abnormal vaginal bleeding can be a sign of other gynecologic cancers like uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, or endometrial cancer.
Get a Partner for Your Health
A woman’s body is capable of phenomenal things. But being a woman also comes with unique health challenges. At Baptist Health, we’re dedicated to providing women the services they need to protect their health, at every age and stage. Find a Women’s Health provider near you.
Diagnosing Conditions That Cause Heavy Periods
If you develop heavy menstrual bleeding, your doctor will first ask you some questions about when the bleeding occurs, how long it lasts, and how heavy the bleeding is. It’s a good idea to keep a journal about your symptoms, especially since your concerns about changes in your menstrual flow can be stressful, which can make it hard to remember the details accurately.
If appropriate, your doctor may do blood tests and perform tests like a pelvic exam, ultrasound, hysteroscopy, colposcopy, and others to help determine the cause of your abnormal bleeding.
Treating Conditions That Cause Heavy Periods
Depending on what your doctor finds in tests and exams, the next steps may be doing nothing (if the bleeding isn’t the result of a medical problem), starting hormonal birth control, taking medication, or surgery.
It’s also important to note that aspirin and products that contain it can thin the blood and increase bleeding, so you should tell your doctor if you’re taking this type of medication.
Protect Yourself With Regular Screening for Cervical Cancer
The earlier cancers are caught, the easier it is to treat them successfully. That’s why it’s important to have regular checkups and cancer screenings. Learn more about women’s health services at Baptist Health today and find a provider if you don’t yet have one.
Being proactive about your gynecological health is the best way to protect yourself from many forms of cancer.
Next Steps and Useful Resources: