Problem periods

Most women will have no problems with their periods. Others may worry that their periods are not ‘normal’. 

When your periods begin it can be hard to decide what is normal and what's not. For many young women, there is no pattern to their periods at all. As you get older though, you can expect your period to develop a regular monthly pattern. If a pattern doesn't develop or you start experiencing problems with your periods, it is a good idea to visit your doctor.  The following describes common complaints that are not considered 'normal' and should be investigated by your doctor.


You might need to visit your doctor if:

  • your pain is not relieved after taking painkillers
  • you have to take painkillers regularly throughout the day to be able to work or study
  • you have to take time off work or study
  • pain regularly wakes you during the night.

There can be many reasons for very painful periods. Your doctor or gynaecologist will do a number of investigations to rule out more serious disease and work with you to manage your condition.

Bleeding between periods

It can take a little while for some young women to establish a regular bleeding pattern. Some young women will 'spot' or bleed very minimally when they ovulate, this will happen 14 days before the next period. Other than that, bleeding between your periods is something that should be investigated by a doctor. Bleeding after sex should also be investigated by a doctor. 

Late periods

There are many reasons why your period might be late. Again, when you are first getting your periods it might be that your pattern is still being established. Stress, medications, illness, and changes to your diet, weight and lifestyle can also cause your period to come late. Using a progestogen IUD (such as a Mirena or other hormonal intrauterine contraceptive) can also affect how regularly you bleed.

You may also be pregnant – even if you are using contraception.

You may need to have your doctor investigate if your periods:

  • come very infrequently, for example, every six weeks (called oligomenorrhoea)
  • arrive a number of days early/late for more than three months in a row
  • do not come back straight after you stop taking the contraceptive pill
  • have not happened for more than six months and they used to be normal and you are not pregnant (called amenorrhoea)
  • have not yet had a period but you are 17 years or older.

Recording your menstrual symptoms

Self-monitoring and recording your symptoms in a diary or on a calendar can help you to understand your cycle and body better. A study found this helped women to feel more comfortable with their symptoms, and reduced the severity of some of their premenstrual symptoms such as depression and moodiness. There are now many free apps you can download to help you chart your symptoms into a calendar. You can learn more about your cycle and even estimate when you are most fertile using this method, although it is not entirely accurate.


The Women’s does not accept any liability to any person for the information or advice (or use of such information or advice) which is provided on the Website or incorporated into it by reference. The Women’s provide this information on the understanding that all persons accessing it take responsibility for assessing its relevance and accuracy. Women are encouraged to discuss their health needs with a health practitioner. If you have concerns about your health, you should seek advice from your health care provider or if you require urgent care you should go to the nearest Emergency Dept.