We commonly talk about a woman’s menstrual cycle being 28 days — the time that elapses between the first day of your period to the day before the start of your next one. That’s the average length, but each woman is a bit different. and a normal cycle can be anywhere from 21-35 days.
The same holds true for when you have your period. The normal length is about five days, so if yours stretches beyond that, you should investigate why with your doctor. Abnormal uterine bleeding can manifest as spotting, too little bleeding during your period, or excessive bleeding.
Dr. Shirley Rigaud-Echols has expertise in diagnosing and treating women experiencing abnormal uterine bleeding. Fortunately, she and her competent and caring team at Dekalb OB/GYN Affiliates in Decatur, Georgia, are able to offer relief to patients who are suffering from all types of unusual bleeding.
Solving the mystery of lengthy periods
If you’ve been suffering from long periods, Dr. Rigaud-Echols evaluates you thoroughly, starting with a detailed conversation about your symptoms, when your irregular bleeding started, and any other symptoms that might accompany it, such as bad cramping.
Abnormal uterine bleeding can affect your ability to live your normal life with work, school, and social events. If this is the case, it shouldn’t be.
Bleeding for longer than the norm is absolutely a reason to be checked by your gynecologist. It’s also important to consider whether you have long periods or long periods accompanied by particularly heavy bleeding (menorrhagia).
In addition to finding the root cause of your long periods, which may be linked to a condition, it’s important to acknowledge that higher than average blood loss causes:
- Hair loss
- Brittle nails
- Pale skin
Blood loss can lead to anemia, where you’re deficient in iron. This is caused by not having sufficient red blood cells to bring needed oxygen to all your tissues.
Dr. Rigaud-Echols may find that your long periods stem from causes as varied as menopause, when your period can undergo changes, endometriosis (the abnormal growth of your uterine lining), or some type of blood disorder, such as hemophilia.
Additionally, your long periods could be related to the hormone disorder polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), or a polyp or fibroid that’s benign.
Long periods can also be traced to reproductive issues, from miscarriage to problems related to having an IUD (intrauterine device). In very unusual cases, cancer can be the cause of long periods.
Dr. Rigaud-Echols also looks into what medications you take, because anti-inflammatory medications, certain birth control pills, and blood thinners can all cause longer-than-normal periods.
How can I get relief from my long periods?
When Dr. Rigaud-Echols investigates why you’re having long periods so she can develop a plan that can offer real and lasting relief, she assesses your health in a detailed manner, takes note of your health history, and analyzes factors such as how long you’ve been suffering from long periods.
She typically performs a pelvic exam and uses imaging tests like an MRI or ultrasound to learn more, as well.
Treatment options for long periods that are caused by PCOS or menopause include hormone replacement therapy (HRT) through the use of birth control pills or hormones delivered in other ways. Minimally invasive surgery can solve the problem if your bleeding is due to conditions such as uterine fibroids or endometriosis.