There’s really no such thing as a “normal” period. Sure there are general guidelines, but every woman is unique and different. Some women have unpredictable cycles, while others experience regular, clockwork menstruation. It’s important to note that there is likely nothing is wrong with you if your period is a little longer or shorter than others. It’s also perfectly fine if your period varies a bit from month to month. But how long must your period last before you seek a medical opinion?
Longer periods can be caused by a wide range of underlying conditions which includes the following:-
Hormone and ovulation changes
Changes to your hormones or ovulation may cause a long period. You may notice hormonal changes when you first get your period during puberty or in perimenopause. You may also experience a hormonal imbalance from different health condition. If your hormones aren’t at a normal level or if your body doesn’t ovulate during your menstrual cycle, the uterine lining can become very thick. When your body finally sheds the lining, you may experience a period that’s longer than normal.
You may experience long periods because of medications you take. These can include contraceptives although, many people use hormonal contraceptives to shorten or regulate their periods, they can sometimes result in heavier or prolonged periods. Such contraceptives includes intrauterine devices and extended birth control pill. Other medications like aspirin and other blood thinners and anti-inflammatories could also cause prolonged periods.
Though uncommon, it is possible that someone experiencing a prolonged period may have an underlying blood disorder. This is a condition that affects your body’s ability to clot blood, causing your long periods. Two of these conditions are hemophilia and von Willebrand’s disease they are the most common occurring in women. A long period may be the only sign of one of these conditions, or you may have other symptoms.
While not actually a period, extended vaginal bleeding may be a sign of an unsafe or nonviable pregnancy, such as an ectopic pregnancy or a miscarriage. You may also have extended bleeding in pregnancy if you have a condition like placenta previa (placenta previa is a condition that happens during pregnancy where the placenta covers the cervix). If you have had a pregnancy test come back positive and you’re experiencing vaginal bleeding, see your healthcare provider.
Pelvic inflammatory disease
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) occurs when bacteria infect your reproductive organs. In addition to changes to your menstrual cycle, PID can also lead to abnormal vaginal discharge among other symptoms.
Uterine fibroids or polyps
Uterine fibroids and polyps can lead to extended, and sometimes heavy, bleeding. Fibroids occur when muscle tissue begins to grown in the wall of the uterus. Polyps are also the result of irregular tissue growth in the uterus and cause small tumors to grow.
Adenomyosis is another type of tissue buildup. The condition occurs when your endometrium, or uterine lining, embeds itself into the muscles of your uterus. With adenomyosis, the uterus is usually larger than average, and that leads to heavy painful periods.
The thyroid gland is responsible for regulating a variety of hormones in the body. For females, this includes hormones associated with the menstrual cycle. You may have a long period if your thyroid is underperforming. This condition is known as hypothyroidism.
Obesity can affect your menstrual cycle, this is because larger bodies produce excess estrogen, which can affect how often you have your periods and eventually cause you to stop ovulating regularly. When you stop having periods every month, the lining of the uterus will become thick, and eventually shed, resulting in very heavy and prolonged bleeding.
The body’s reaction to stress can change the levels of many hormones that cause your period to last longer than necessary. Stress can cause delayed ovulation, causing your period to start later than expected, which can make your periods longer and heavier than usual. Identifying and eliminating stressors in your life will help regulate your periods over time.
A prolonged period may the sign of cancer in your uterus or cervix. For some women, this may be one of the earliest symptoms of either of these cancers.
On a final note:
If you are wondering why your period is so long and inconsistent, you can download a period-tracking app so you’re aware of what’s normal for you. If you spot anything off, it’s most likely not a serious problem, but it still can’t hurt to get it checked out especially painful or bothersome, a person can speak to a doctor about possible solutions. Even if there’s no underlying issue, the blood loss can leads to anaemia or exhaustion and other health conditions so it’s important to make whatever adjustments are necessary.