From time to time, every woman likely suspects that her menstrual cycle is abnormal for one reason or another. However, often what we think is an abnormal period is actually normal menstruation.
It’s important to know when you are having an abnormal period because it can be a symptom of a health issue that needs attention, including pregnancy, uterine cancer, and uterine fibroid tumors. So the question becomes, how do you know when you’re experiencing abnormal periods?
Abnormal Bleeding During Periods
You may be experiencing an abnormal period, abnormal uterine bleeding, or an abnormal menstrual cycle if the time between your menstrual cycles is longer than 21 to 35 days, or your period lasts longer than a week. If you need to change tampons or sanitary pads after only one or two hours because they’re saturated, this is a red flag (no pun intended!) as well.
For girls under 11 and post-menopausal women, any vaginal bleeding should be treated as abnormal and prompt a call to your healthcare provider.
When Menstrual Cramps Are Abnormal
While it’s normal to experience a small amount of cramping during your period, it’s not normal to experience severe menstrual cramps. If you suddenly begin having severe cramps you should be evaluated by your health care provider to determine the cause of the increased pain you experience during your period.
- Some young women have more intense cramping during the first few years after their first period.
- This typically decreases with age and after childbirth.
- If you are over 16 and haven’t had a period yet, consult your health care provider to determine the cause and be sure and ask about the possibility of polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS.
Period Symptoms That May Seem Abnormal But Usually Aren’t
The best thing to do when you suspect that you’re experiencing abnormal bleeding or menstrual cycles is to consult with your healthcare provider.
However, sometimes what appears to be an irregular symptom actually isn’t. For instance, blood clots, which are actually pieces of tissue in your vaginal discharge may look a little scary the first time you notice them. But this is no cause for alarm; blood clots such as these are perfectly normal.
Skipping periods or having irregular periods for the first few years of menstruation also is normal for many girls and young women.
If you’re extremely active you may skip a menstrual cycle or two from time to time. This is another normal occurrence among women who regularly participate in intense sports or other activities.
Things to Remember About Menstruation
Here are some basics every woman should know to help determine if you’re having an abnormal period.
Normal menstrual bleeding lasts about 5 days.
The typical amount of blood lost during menstruation is about 2 to 8 tablespoons, although it may seem like more than that.
The average menstrual cycle is 28 days from the first day of one month’s period to the first day of the net month’s period. However, anywhere from 21 to 35 days between periods is considered a normal menstrual cycle.
If you’re ever unsure whether unusual bleeding or other menstrual symptoms are abnormal, you should talk to your healthcare provider. Finding irregularities with your menstrual cycle before they turn into serious problems is just one more reason regular exams are advised for women of childbearing age.
So much can vary from month to month and from woman to woman, that having a healthcare provider who knows you and your cycle is important for your health and your peace of mind.