What is Considered an Abnormal Period?

What is Considered an Abnormal Period?

Given the hassle that periods can be under the best of circumstances, you want to make sure that your menstrual cycles are functioning normally. If you’re experiencing abnormal periods, here’s what we want you to know.

There are many ways in which periods can be abnormal — from heavy bleeding to a complete absence of periods on the other end of the spectrum.

To help you determine whether your periods may qualify as abnormal, the team of experienced and skilled specialists here at Bay Area Physicians for Women’s Health, presents a closer look at menstrual cycles in this month’s blog post.

Defining normal periods and menstrual cycles

A great way to determine whether your periods are abnormal is to first understand what constitutes a normal menstrual cycle and period. 

A menstrual cycle is calculated from the first day of your period through to the first day of your next period. Normally, this time span should fall between 21-45 days, which is why most women consider their periods to be monthly.

Your period should last between two and seven days, with the heaviest bleeding occurring during the first several days.

Defining abnormal periods

There are two main ways in which periods can be abnormal:

  1. Irregular menstrual cycles

When we discuss abnormal cycles, we aren’t referring to your bleeding, but more so the timing of your cycles. For example, perhaps your periods come more often than every 21 days or less often than every 45 days. Other ways in which a menstrual cycle can be abnormal include:

  • Not getting your period by age 15
  • Your periods were regular but no longer are
  • Your periods last longer than a week
  • You stop getting your period

Of course, when we say you stop getting your period, we aren’t referring to women who are pregnant or transitioning through menopause

  1. Irregular bleeding

The other way in which we consider a period to be abnormal is the amount you bleed. On one end is menorrhagia, or heavy bleeding, which affects one in five women in the United States. Heavy bleeding can have one or more of the following characteristics:

  • You bleed for more than seven days
  • You soak through tampons and pads every two hours or less
  • You pass large blood clots (larger than a quarter)

On the other end is amenorrhea, which is a condition in which you don’t have any periods, so there’s no bleeding at all.

In between these two extremes are issues with spotting, or bleeding in between periods, which isn’t normal.

What’s behind your abnormal bleeding

If any of the aforementioned descriptions sound familiar, we urge you to come see us so that we can review your symptoms and perform an evaluation. There are many reasons why periods can be abnormal, from gynecologic conditions like endometriosis to lifestyle considerations like exercising too much.

More often than not, abnormal periods are a sign of a problem, so it's important that we get to the bottom of it.

To figure out what’s behind your abnormal periods, please contact our office in Mobile, Alabama, to set up an appointment.