What's Considered an Abnormal Period?

Are you struggling with heavy periods, periods that don’t come “on time” (or at all), or other troublesome symptoms related to your monthly cycle? If so, you may be one of the 30% of women who are diagnosed with abnormal periods

Abnormal periods make everyday life difficult. From not knowing when your period may arrive or end to battling heavy bleeding and painful cramps, abnormal periods put your period in control instead of you. 

At Signature Women’s Healthcare in Lawrenceville and Lithonia, Georgia, our experienced OB/GYNs, Jacquline Hayles-Patterson, MD and Tyndal M. Jones, MD, help women get to the bottom of their abnormal periods. Our practice offers safe and effective solutions that allow you to overcome your symptoms so you can reclaim your life.

Here’s what you need to know to understand what’s considered an abnormal period, possible causes, and the treatment options that exist.

What’s considered an abnormal period?

Because no two women experience the exact same menstrual cycle, it can be challenging to understand what’s considered “abnormal” when it comes to periods. To better grasp what an irregular or abnormal period is, it’s helpful to first learn what makes a period “normal.”  

Understanding normal periods

Even “normal” periods vary greatly. Generally speaking, most menstrual cycles take place every 21-35 days and last from 2-7 days. The amount of bleeding women experience also varies, with some women describing light periods and others heavy bleeding every month. 

Normal periods also bring a variety of different symptoms, and age can play a role. Typically periods are less “normal” when you first begin menstruating and as you approach menopause. But normal fluctuations in hormone levels throughout your life can mean changes in your period. 

The best way to understand what a “normal” period is for you is by tracking your cycle and symptoms. You’ll have a better sense of irregularities and have valuable information for your provider at Signature Women’s Healthcare to aid in any diagnoses.   

Signs of abnormal periods

Even though “normal” periods can be very different from woman to woman, there are some key signs your period may be considered abnormal. If you experience any of the following, set up an appointment with your OB/GYN at Signature Women’s Healthcare for a comprehensive exam:

It can be hard to tell if your period is especially heavy. Schedule a consultation if you need to change your feminine products more than once an hour, wear two types of feminine products, pass large clots, or regularly bleed through your clothes or sheets.

What should I do if I suspect an abnormal period?

If you’re struggling with chronic abnormal periods, it’s important to seek help from a specialist, like the team at Signature Women’s Healthcare. An occasional abnormal period isn’t generally cause for concern, but when abnormal becomes the norm, it’s generally a sign that something isn’t quite right. 

Underlying causes of irregular periods

Women can experience abnormal or irregular periods for many different reasons. Sometimes the cause is an underlying health condition, while other times it may be triggered by lifestyle factors or a genetic disorder.

Here’s a quick look at a few of the most common causes of abnormal periods:

  1. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): results from an imbalance of hormones  
  2. Endometriosis: when the endometrial tissue lining your uterus grows outside of the womb 
  3. Adenomyosis: when the endometrial tissues grow into the uterine muscles 
  4. Uterine fibroids: noncancerous tumors that grow inside the uterus
  5. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID): a condition caused by a bacterial infection that can cause foul-smelling vaginal discharge, pain, fever, and GI symptoms in addition to abnormal bleeding   

Other possible causes of abnormal periods include breastfeeding, gaining or losing significant weight, extreme exercise, prolonged illness, travel, stress, and gynecological cancers (e.g., ovarian, cervical, uterine, or endometrial cancers). 

Treating abnormal periods

Since the best treatment depends on the underlying cause of your abnormal bleeding, your provider at Signature Women’s Healthcare evaluates your unique situation before creating a customized treatment plan. 

Depending on the root cause of your bleeding, your provider may recommend different options, including:

In severe cases, your provider may talk with you about a hysterectomy to remove the uterus permanently.   

Learn more about abnormal bleeding and the causes by calling the Signature Women’s Healthcare office nearest you. You can also book an appointment online at your convenience.

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