Now that we've delved into what is and isn't normal when it comes to your period, I thought we could take a closer look at what can cause a period that lasts longer than an average of seven days. If you're experiencing this frustrating change in your cycle, a trip to your gynecologist is a necessity. But in the meantime, it's a good idea to educate yourself on possible explanations in order to prepare yourself for your exam. Here are some of the general possibilities:
- For women on the pill, spotting or extended bleeding may be solved with a simple change in prescription to a pill with a higher dosage — not all pills are created equal when it comes to hormones. Or if you're chronically tardy when it comes to taking your pill, you may just need to be more diligent.
- If you're not on the pill, hormonal issues can still play a role. If you're having any other strange symptoms outside of your period, be sure to mention them to your gyno; she may want to make sure your thyroid gland is functioning properly.
- Both IUCs and Depo-Provera can cause irregular bleeding. If you've started experiencing spotting after trying out either of those methods of contraception, and it lasts for an extended period of time, you may want to discuss the possibility of trying out an entirely different method.
- If you're experiencing excessive bleeding, persisting over two weeks or more, there are more significant issues that could be at fault, including uterine fibroids, endometriosis, or ovarian cysts. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have any kind of pain or physical discomfort accompanying the excess bleeding.
- Heavy bleeding post-period can also be a symptom of a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy, both of which are very serious. Even if you feel sure you can't possibly be pregnant, it's important to be seen by your doctor.
To see other reasons that may account for heavy, prolonged bleeding,
Dear's Advice: Every woman's different, so don't panic if your cycle differs from your peers. However, if you've noticed a change in your cycle, it's always a good idea to make an appointment to see your gynecologist and make sure that everything is functioning as it should. And don't be afraid to let her in on any other issues you may be experiencing, including emotional ones, as they could be related.