Hesperian Health Guides
Abnormal Menstrual Bleeding
Menstrual periods with heavy bleeding
Periods with heavy bleeding are uncomfortable and having them often can lead to anemia. Signs include:
- The menstrual flow soaks through your pad, cloth, or tampon every hour for several hours in a row.
- Menstrual periods last more than a week.
- Blood clots (dark red shiny lumps) larger than 2½ cm (1 inch).
- Heavy flow stops you from going places or doing what you usually do.
|Possible causes of heavy bleeding include:|
Menstrual periods with light bleeding
Light bleeding each month is not a health problem itself but may be a sign of a medical problem.
- Hormonal methods of family planning can make your periods lighter after you have been using them for a while.
- A problem with your thyroid gland.
Menstrual periods that come too often or bleeding at other times
Your menstrual cycles will not always be regular. But if your cycle was regular and has changed, or if your periods come more often than every 3 weeks, see a health worker.
Hormonal family planning methods, such as pills, implants, or injections, can change your menstrual periods in different ways.
- growths in the womb that are not cancer (fibroids or polyps) or cancer in the womb.
- taking estrogen, a hormonal medicine, after menopause.
- family planning methods that can make periods come more often or cause bleeding between periods. See Chapter 13, “Family Planning.”
Menstrual periods that come too far apart or have stopped
Menstrual periods usually come about every 21 to 35 days, though some people have periods less often. But if your period is later than usual or does not come at all, you may be pregnant or have a serious medical problem. See a health worker.
Most people have their first menstrual period between ages 10 to 16. Not getting enough to eat and some illnesses can delay this. If you are over 16 and your periods haven’t started, talk to a health worker.
- miscarriage, even if you did not think you were pregnant.
- changes in the hormones that control the menstrual cycle.
- some illnesses, including tuberculosis or HIV.
- nearing menopause, if you are 45 or older.
- family planning methods can make periods come less often or stop completely (see Chapter 13, “Family Planning”).
- not getting enough healthy food to eat.
- polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).