Abnormal Period Bleeding

Abnormal Period Bleeding: Signs and Causes

A regular period is a sign that you’re healthy and everything is functioning the way it should. Hence, any variations in your cycle can sometimes feel disconcerting, making you wonder if something is wrong? More often than not, you have nothing to worry about.

Typically, a menstrual cycle lasts for about 28 days, but this can vary from one individual to the other. Having said this, anywhere between 21 and 35 days is considered a normal menstrual cycle. Abnormal or irregular menstruation is that which happens outside this window – a period that comes too often or one that does not come every month.

What is Abnormal Period Bleeding

A period usually lasts between 2 to 7 days, which is considered normal. If you bleed for longer than a week, it is abnormal period bleeding. Similarly, if you experience menorrhagia or where your period is particularly heavy and you need to change your pad very frequently or you pass large clots, is also a sign of abnormal period bleeding.

Abnormal uterine bleeding includes a variety of irregularities – heavy menstrual flow - menorrhagia, longer periods, irregular periods, bleeding or spotting between periods, after intercourse or post menopause, shorter periods or polymenorrhea and hypomenorrhea or very light period. The causes for abnormal uterine bleeding ranges from polyps, fibroids, endometriosis, infection and some forms of contraception, which we will study brief below.

Spotting vs Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding

Abnormal Period Bleeding: Signs and Causes

Spotting is the most common type of non-period bleeding which you can experience. It is the light bleeding (pink or brown blood) that can show up on your panties, before your period and can feel uncomfortable. However, spotting is not the same as abnormal menstruation. If you’re spotting, wear a Whisper pantyliner that barely makes you realize that you are wearing anything extra, yet offers the desired protection and keeps you dry and fresh.

Abnormal vaginal bleeding between periods is known as intermenstrual bleeding or metrorrhagia. This may have many causes, some easy to treat, while others may indicate a serious underlying condition. Whether you notice spotting or heavy bleeding between periods, it’s important to see your doctor. If you observe spotting other than the one preceding your period, there are chances you may also have some of the symptoms of metrorrhagia, such as –

  • Menorrhagia or heavier and longer periods
  • Itching and redness in the vagina
  • Missed or irregular periods
  • Nausea, pain or burning during urination or sex
  • Pain in your abdomen or pelvis
  • Unusual discharge or odor from the vagina

Causes for Abnormal Period Bleeding

Abnormal Period Bleeding: Signs and Causes

A variety of reasons can cause abnormal uterine bleeding. Menorrhagia or extremely heavy bleeding may be caused by thyroid problems, noncancerous growths in your uterus and bleeding disorders. The most probable reason for abnormal uterine bleeding is hormonal imbalance, which may also lead to other abnormalities such as polymenorrhea, hypomenorrhea and irregular menstruation. This is often known as DUB by doctors - dysfunctional uterine bleeding. The cause of hormonal imbalance is more common in teenagers and in women approaching menopause. Understanding some of the potential reasons for hormonal disruptions can help you get a better grip on it:

  • Your body weight is too low
  • You are overweight
  • You are very stressed
  • Medical conditions that disrupt your hormone cycle.

Types of Abnormal Menstruation

Abnormal Period Bleeding: Signs and Causes
  • Hypomenorrhea - infrequent period or a very light period
  • Irregular periods, or missed period for three months in a row
  • Polymenorrhea or shorter periods

Signs of Abnormal Period Bleeding

Below are some signs of irregular menstruation that require attention -

  • Your period lasts for more than 7 days
  • Your period has a very light flow or does not come every month
  • You need to change your pad every 1 or 2 hours
  • You notice sudden gushes in your flow
  • Polymenorrhea or shorter periods
  • You need to wake up in the middle of the night to change your pad

When should you consult a physician

Abnormal Period Bleeding: Signs and Causes

It is important you seek medical advice if you experience abnormal vaginal bleeding or after post menopause. Unusually heavy bleeding or menorrhagia is also a concern that you must address with the help of your doctor.