Ask the Doctor: What causes one’s period to change?

A normal period lasts anywhere from two to seven days and the days may vary from woman to woman and even in the same woman at different times. PHOTO | COURTESY

While I lived in Mbale District, my period always lasted four days. However, since moving to Kampala six months ago, my period only lasts a day. Why? Husna

Dear Husna,

A normal period lasts anywhere from two to seven days and the days may vary from woman to woman and even in the same woman at different times. Whereas some women may bleed less as determined by genetics, others bleed more. However, because your period would last four days, it lasting only a day should be cause for concern. 

A period that lasts one day (hypomenorrhea), is considered abnormal although it may happen without any serious medical issues. Mere relocation from Mbale to Kampala may actually cause bleeding less or no bleeding at all but as you get used to the new environment, the period may return to normal.

Too much exercise, obesity, abnormal weight loss, cryptic pregnancy, breastfeeding, use of hormonal contraceptives, stress and anxiety, extremes of menstrual life such as after puberty or before menopause and medical conditions can all of a sudden lead to light bleeding.

Medical condition may include lots of scars in the womb due to infection or abortions, problems of hormones including pituitary (gonadotrophins and prolactin), thyroid, glands and lack of ovulation (such as polycystic ovary syndrome).

Since hypomenorrhea has a number of causes, visit your doctor to rule out any serious cause. Meanwhile, avoid smoking, over exercising, excessive loss of weight, manage stress and have enough sleep and eat a balanced diet.

Why is my puke green?

My vomit is usually yellow but nowadays, it is green. Should I be worried? Morita

Dear Morita,

Food or other stomach contents move from the stomach to the intestines so that proper digestion and absorption of the needed food contents takes place. Whatever food is not digested properly in the mouth, stomach or small intestines is thrown out through the big intestines and later, the anus as stool.

Sometimes, a person may, through the mouth, forcefully bring out stomach contents (vomiting) as a way of ridding the body of harmful substances which may have gone into the body orally or through other ways.

Though not usually a serious concern since it may not last long, vomiting may not be due to a serious medical condition and may not require medical attention.

However, vomiting caused by infections, say bacteria or viruses or by irritation of the stomach, pregnancy or migraine among other conditions may require a thorough medical examination and proper diagnosis. Vomit is usually the colour of the contents of food from the stomach. If, however, there is no food in the stomach, one’s vomit may be greenish yellow in colour, which is the colour of bile from the gallbladder.

Bile has two main pigments; biliverdin, a breakdown product of a red blood cell haemoglobin pigment and bilirubin (yellow), a result of biliverdin being broken down through a process referred to as reduction.

Managing the cause of vomiting, drinking iced water, avoiding drugs or foods that cause vomiting, eating slowly and smaller, more frequent meals, and avoiding eating solid foods until the vomiting has stopped may help.


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