Periods don’t stop for pandemics and according to the World Bank, “Every day, some 800 million women and girls menstruate. Being able to manage their menstruation safely, hygienically and with confidence and dignity is critical not just for their health and education, but also for economic development and overall gender equality.” The coronavirus pandemic or these ongoing three years of Covid-19 highlights, or even exacerbates, persisting challenges related to menstruation when millions of women and girls were already struggling to meet their menstrual needs before the current crisis and with an internalised sense of shame that is often linked to this natural process.
The need of the hour is to build programmes that increase awareness, knowledge, and skills – and improve access to materials and facilities – for adolescent girls and women to manage their menstruation comfortably. Did you know your period blood could be a sign of being infertile or bacterial infection or sexually transmitted diseases?
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Ananya R, MBBS, MS OBG at Ayu Health Hospitals, shared, “During the first few years after menarche, it’s common for blood to change colours from red to brown. Period blood can also change colour throughout the same period cycle. For instance, it may start out bright red and then fade to a rusty brown at the end of the cycle. It can even start out brown and turn redder as your period progresses.”
She added, “If your menstrual blood is consistently paler than usual, you should be concerned. Blood may appear dark purplish-red in some situations, followed by large clots, severe cramps, and heavy flow. This is common among women who have had fibroids or endometriosis in the past. Women who have very dark menstrual blood may have trouble conceiving and can be at risk for clotting issues that can harm the placenta during pregnancy. If a person has any further symptoms, they should consult a doctor. If a person is experiencing other symptoms, they must speak to a doctor.”
According to Dr Sneha D Shetty, Consultant – Reproductive Medicine at Bangalore’s Milann Fertility Hospital, MSR, periods in women offer a lot of information about their general health as well as reproductive well being. Points to consider are the duration of periods, heaviness of flow, the colour of period, associated symptoms etc.
She revealed, “Usually, periods last for 2-5 days in most women followed by 2-3 days of light bleeding or spotting. Period flow is a mix of bleeding and the tissue lining the inside of the uterus. The Colour of the period can signify many factors like hormonal activity, age of period blood, infection, medical conditions etc. Diagnosis of these conditions and managing them accordingly is the right step toward early diagnosis and management of infertility.” She explained:
1. Bright red colour – Can occur at the start of your period along with mild abdominal cramps. Heavy bright red bleeding can be an indication of other conditions like fibroid uterus / uterine polyp/miscarriage / ectopic pregnancy etc.
2. Brown or blackish brown colour – Period blood initially is bright red and slowly turns brown or blackish brown as periods progress. Could be due to slow shedding of uterine lining or shedding of previous cycle remnant lining.
3. When to visit your fertility specialist with regards to abnormal periods – Any abnormal colour- grey, yellow, orange, green or associated with unusual discharge or foul smell may be a sign of bacterial infection or sexually transmitted diseases( STD ). Consult a doctor also when there is an abnormal heavy flow of periods associated with clots passage, periods lasting for more than 7-8 days, frequent periods or missed periods.