9 Symptoms a Woman Shouldn't Ignore

| Women's Health

As a mom, you might not always put your health first because you're so busy tending to your family. If you've got a cold, there's a good chance you take some over the counter medicine and go about your day. But what if it's something more serious? According to Prevention, you should never ignore these symptoms!

sick woman

Abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge: After you’ve gone through menopause, you should never experience vaginal bleeding again — period. When a post-menopausal woman experiences vaginal bleeding, it’s clearly abnormal, says Julian Schink, MD, chief of women's health for Spectrum Health Medical Group. While it could be a sign of something small, like a hormone imbalance, there's also a chance the symptoms could point to endometrial cancer or uterine cancer. The same goes for uncharacteristic discharge in women of any age; though it could signal an easily treatable infection, copious amounts of discharge (or very foul-smelling discharge) could be associated with cervical cancer or fallopian tube cancer. Bottom line: "You need to contact your gynecologist right away with any of these symptoms and be very clear while explaining them," says Schink.

>> Read more: Is something weird going on "down there"? Click here to find out if it's normal!

Unexplained weight loss: Most of the time, when the number on the scale drops, it’s from working your butt off at the gym and loading up on kale. So when that extra five pounds comes off without any effort, it may be cause for concern. "Colon cancer is commonly associated with unexplained weight loss," says Schink. Colon cancer is easily preventable through regular colonoscopies — something everyone over 50 should have every 10 years, unless directed otherwise by your doctor. For those under 50, hormonal abnormalities like hyperthyroidism or diabetes could be to blame for dropping pounds unexpectedly.

Excessive urination: Getting up once in the middle of the night is annoying, but probably harmless. But if that gotta-go feeling gets you up three or more times during your slumber, something's not right. One reason: A mass could be pressing on your bladder, says Schink. But don’t freak out yet — not all masses are cancerous. Many benign ones (like uterine fibroids) can compress your bladder, causing the frequent bathroom breaks. Diabetes could also be to blame, especially if you're experiencing excessive thirst that just can't be quenched. "It's a partnership: If you're going to the bathroom more often and drinking more often, then a lightbulb should go off in your head that something’s not right," says Schink. Keep an eye out for fatigue, as well — you're more likely to fall victim to dehydration (and tiredness, as a result) with all those bathroom breaks.

Belly bloat: It's normal to feel bloated after greasy takeout. What's not normal is feeling that way on a daily basis. Despite its rarity — only about one in 70 women get it — ovarian cancer could be to blame. "One of the most common signs of ovarian cancer is abdominal bloating," says Schink. The belly discomfort is either caused by a large mass in the ovary or fluid build-up in the abdomen. You may not feel pain, either: "It's more an awareness of discomfort. It's a constant, dull pain, and that's the difference," says Schink.

What other symptoms shouldn't be ignored? Click here to be taken to the original article on Prevention.