Abnormal Periods and What They May Mean
When was your last period? Can you rattle it off just like that…or is yours so inconsistent there’s no telling when it last arrived? If you’re experiencing changes in your period cycle, such as this, it may be worth discussing with your OB/GYN. Let’s take a look at some of the common symptoms associated with abnormal periods so you know when, and if, you need to visit your OB/GYN to discuss.
A typical period occurs, on average, every 28 days. Although that number can stretch between 21 and 35 days, at times. A period cycle commonly lasts for 5-7 days at a time.
Examples of Abnormal Periods:
- If your period arrives fewer than 21 or more than 35 days apart.
- When you miss 3-4 periods in a row.
- When you experience heavier or lighter bleeding than usual.
- If your period lasts longer than 7 days.
- If you experience severe pain, cramping, or nausea.
- If you experience spotting or bleeding after sex or menopause.
Period Problems Classified
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms above there is a chance you may have one of the following types of abnormal periods:
- Amenorrhea: Your periods have stopped entirely.
- Obligomenorrhea: Your periods are infrequent.
- Dysmenorrhea: Your periods are painful.
- Abnormal Uterine Bleeding: Your flow changes during any of the following: menopause, between periods, or after sex.
What Are the Causes?
There are an array of factors that can lead to abnormal periods, but the following are some of the most common:
- Lifestyle changes
- Birth Control Pills
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
- Premature Ovarian Insufficiency
The best first step is to schedule an appointment with your OB/GYN. They will ask you about your period cycle and the issues you are experiencing. Most likely they will start by administering a physical exam and pelvic exam and in some cases a Pap smear.
After these initial tests they will determine if blood tests, ultrasounds or biopsies are necessary to further diagnose the abnormality.
If you haven’t had your period in several months, your periods last longer than seven days, or you’re experiencing severe abdominal pain, fever, or vomiting, you should see your doctor right away.