MOST women don’t know how to spot when something is wrong down below, as 80 per cent claim they wouldn’t go to their GP with abnormal bleeding, experts have revealed.
Vaginal bleeding is a key symptom of gynaecological cancers and charities have warned that women are not seeking medical attention when such issues occur.
Irregular bleeding could be a sign of cancer and you should speak to your GP[/caption]
Bleeding can be an indicator of womb, cervical and vaginal cancers which affect 12,750 women each year.
Research by The Eve Appeal for the Go Red campaign found that 72 per cent of women said they were not taught how to spot when something is wrong with their periods at school.
It also found that while 85 per cent of women felt comfortable talking about such issues to their friends and family, a shocking 80 per cent said they wouldn’t go to their GP if they had abnormal bleeding.
The Eve Appeal has teamed up with the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists to help women know what to spot and to help them identify when it isn’t “just one of those things”.
Speaking to The Sun, one woman, who discovered she had cervical cancer after bleeding for six months urged women to not feel shame around going and speaking to your GP.
Kathryn Firth said: “No matter how small the issue, you should go and get it checked out”.
But what should you be looking for when it comes to abnormal vaginal bleeding?
Here are the four signs you should be wary of.
1. Very heavy and/or very painful periods
While periods differ for everyone, you should pay particular attention if your symptoms are painful.
Very heavy would mean that you have been bleeding for up to seven days. It could also mean that you are experiencing bleeding that disrupts your every day life.
If you need to change your tampon every hour or so then this may also be a symptom.
In order to help women feel as though they can talk about their symptoms Kathryn said that for her, she started off just spotting but said at first she didn’t think anything of it.
“My bleeding always seemed to coincide with my periods so I didn’t take it seriously for a while.
“At one point I realised I had been bleeding consistently for about six months but just kept putting it off”, she added.
2. Bloody discharge
The guidelines from the charity states that blood discharge can be normal for most people.
It added: “If you have any pink, red or brown ‘bloody’ discharge note it down.
“Some people get a bit of bloody discharge/light bleeding/spotting in between their periods called ‘ovulation bleeding’.
“If this isn’t part of what you would consider ‘your normal’ then speak to your doctor.”
3. Bleeding during or after sex
Kathryn said that she also experienced bleeding after sex and said that her partner at the time hadn’t been very supportive.
She said that this wasn’t something she was used to experiencing, adding that if this happens then you should go and get checked out.
The Eve Appeal added that bleeding after sex can be quite common.
“Again, most of the time it isn’t something to worry about but do still note it down and get checked .
“If you bleed during/after sex, also note down whether or not you are in pain.
“Sex isn’t supposed to be painful, and whilst something benign like a cervical ectropian can cause bleeding or soreness, do get it checked.”
The Eve Appeal said that bleeding after sex can be common[/caption]
4. Menopause and post-menopause
The Eve Appeal said that quite often, symtpoms can be different depending on what stage of life you are in.
“Going through the menopause for most people means a few years of irregular bleeding.
“But if any bleeding doesn’t seem right to you, seek medical advice.”
It added that there is no such thing as a post-menopausal period.
“Once you have not had a period for 12 months you have gone through the menopause. Any vaginal bleeding after this is an abnormal bleed.
“Remember that post-menopausal bleeding can mean anything from a bit of pink-ish discharge through to a heavy bleed.”
Most people going through menopause will suffer from abnormal bleeding[/caption]
The charity added that a great way to keep track of your bleeding is to log its frequency.
“There are many apps to track your period/any vaginal bleeding or you can just make a note in your diary.
“You could use one red dot for ‘light flow’, two red dots for a ‘medium flow’ and so on.
“Regularly check back over your last few entries to keep an eye on any gradual changes and to spot abnormalities. “
Kathryn was diagnosed with cervical cancer when she was just 33-years-old in 2018 added that it’s important women attend their smear tests.
“My mum worked at a GP surgery so I knew how important it was.
“I had a colonoscopy and they found a 3.5cm lump, I felt ludicrous that I hadn’t had it checked out sooner.
“I had an operation to remove my cervix and they were able to save my fertility.”
Kathryn, who has now been given the all clear said it can be difficult to ask questioned but urged women to push for answers when it comes to their vaginal health.
“You know what’s right in your own body.
“I think I should have gone sooner – for the last two months I knew something was wrong – I was scared of going, I didn’t want to be a time waster.
“I’ve never really been sick – the only times I’ve been in is for a broken ankle and cancer.”
Kathryn said that the “health service is there for us to use”, and that no matter how small the issue is, you should go and get it checked out.
“It it’s the first time of bleeding outside of your cycle get it checked – don’t let them dismiss it – this goes for women under 25 too as it still can occur.
“Don’t be scared to talk about it with your friends and your family.
“Having never spoken about this with friends – I found out a few had treatments to get rid of abnormal cells. It’s always good to talk to your friends as you might think you are the only one going through it.”
Athena Lamnisos, CEO, The Eve Appeal added that while there are lots of reasons for abnormal bleeding and while it’s likely it’s not cancer, you should always have a check up to rule it out.
“The Eve Appeal is focussed on cancer prevention and early diagnosis. If you don’t know what’s normal for you can’t spot when something isn’t and seek medical help.
“It’s so worrying that women are quite literally sitting on symptoms. We want to make everyone aware of our key message and get bleeding checked”, she added.