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Why Is My Period Lasting So Long: Possible Causes

Online doctor gives advice on heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding
Medically reviewed by Dr. Ola Tarabzuni

Menstruation holds both fascination and occasional frustration in the intricate dance of hormones that govern a woman’s body. While menstrual cycles are unique to each individual, it’s not uncommon for some to experience periods that linger longer than expected, raising concerns and questions. “Why is my period lasting longer than usual?” becomes a ponderous inquiry that demands exploration.

This article embarks on a quest to unravel the enigmatic reasons behind prolonged menstrual bleeding. From hormonal imbalances to underlying medical conditions, we delve into the intricate tapestry of the female body, shedding light on potential causes and providing insights that empower women with knowledge and understanding.

Together, we’ll uncover potential causes, explore preventive measures, and discover empowering solutions that pave the way for a more harmonious and balanced menstrual experience.

What Is the Normal Duration for a Menstrual Period?

Although there can be individual variances, the typical menstrual cycle lasts three to seven days. It’s crucial to remember that each woman’s menstrual cycle is distinct, and what one individual may or may not consider regular may not be the same for another. Age, hormonal changes, and general health are just a few variables that might affect the length and severity of menstrual bleeding. It is always advisable to speak with a healthcare provider if you are worried about the size of your period so they can offer you individualized advice and care for any underlying problems.

What Causes Long Periods

If your period lasts 2 weeks or more, it is considered an abnormally long period or prolonged menstrual bleeding, a condition known as menorrhagia. Menorrhagia, or prolonged menstruation, can have some causes. A healthcare provider should be consulted to receive an appropriate diagnosis if you have exceptionally long or heavy periods. The following are some frequent factors that may prolong periods:

Hormone and ovulation changes

A longer period than normal could be brought on by ovulation or hormonal changes. When you start your period for the first time during puberty or during perimenopause, you can experience hormonal changes. A hormonal imbalance can also result from other medical diseases, like polycystic ovarian syndrome or thyroid problems.

The uterine lining can thicken significantly if your hormone levels aren’t normal or your body doesn’t ovulate during your monthly cycle. When your body finally expels the lining, you can go through a lengthier-than-usual period.

Medications

The medications you take could cause you to have extended periods. These may consist of:

Pregnancy

Extended vaginal bleeding, while not technically a period, may indicate a risky or unviable pregnancy, such as an ectopic pregnancy or a miscarriage.

You could experience prolonged bleeding during pregnancy if you have a condition like placenta previa.

Uterine fibroids or polyps

Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths that develop in or around the uterus. They are composed of muscle and connective tissue and can vary in size and number. Fibroids can interfere with the normal contraction of the uterus, resulting in heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding.

Adenomyosis

Endometrial tissue, which usually lines the uterus, can develop inside the muscular uterine wall in a disease known as adenomyosis. Longer and heavier periods may result from the uterine lining becoming thicker and shedding excessively during the menstrual process.

Thyroid condition

You can have a longer period if your thyroid is not working correctly. Hypothyroidism is the name for this condition.

Bleeding condition

Long periods could be a symptom of a disorder that interferes with your body’s capacity to clot blood. Von Willebrand’s disease and hemophilia are two of these disorders.

One of these disorders may manifest as long or you may experience additional symptoms.

Obesity

Long durations may result from being overweight. This is due to the reason that fatty tissue can stimulate the body to create more estrogen. Your period may alter as a result of this extra estrogen.

Pelvic inflammatory disease

When germs infect your reproductive organs, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) results; PID can cause irregular vaginal discharge and alter your menstrual cycle, among other symptoms.

Cancer

Prolonged menstruation could be an indication of uterine or cervical cancer. This could be one of the early signs of any of these tumours, particularly in female patients.

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What are the treatments for long menstrual periods?

Many menorrhagia treatments are available depending on the underlying reason and unique circumstances. Speaking with a healthcare practitioner is vital for a precise diagnosis and treatment plan. Here are a few typical remedies for prolonged menstrual cycles:

Hormonal Birth Control

The menstrual cycle can be regulated, and severe bleeding can be lessened by using hormonal birth control methods, including combined oral contraceptives (containing estrogen and progestin), progestin-only pills, hormonal patches, intrauterine hormonal devices (IUDs), or contraceptive injections. They function by stabilizing hormone levels and uterine lining thinness.

Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

Over-the-counter NSAIDs, like ibuprofen or naproxen sodium, can help reduce menstrual bleeding and alleviate menstrual cramps. These medications reduce the production of prostaglandins, hormone-like substances that contribute to heavy bleeding and pain.

Tranexamic Acid

Tranexamic acid is a drug that helps reduce excessive bleeding by promoting blood clotting. It is taken orally during the menstrual period and can help reduce the duration and intensity of bleeding.

Progestin Therapy

A synthetic shape of the hormone progesterone is known as progestin. To assist in controlling the menstrual cycle and lessen severe bleeding, it can be prescribed in various ways, including pills, injections, or intrauterine devices (IUDs).

Endometrial Ablation

A minimally invasive technique called endometrial ablation involves removing or dissolving the uterine lining. When hormonal treatments are ineffective or inappropriate, they can effectively treat menorrhagia. It is typically done under anesthesia. It is not advised for women who want to become pregnant in the future.

Surgical Intervention

Surgery may sometimes be required to address the underlying reason for prolonged menstrual cycles. For example, hysteroscopy (to remove polyps or fibroids), myomectomy (to remove fibroids), or hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) may be used in this situation. When alternative therapies have failed or when there are specific medical indications, these surgical approaches are frequently taken into account.

It’s crucial to remember that the choice of therapy will rely on several variables, including the severity of the symptoms, the desire for future fertility, general health, and personal preferences. These elements will be taken into account by healthcare professionals as they choose the best course of action for each patient.

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Possible Complications of Long Periods

If a diagnosis is delayed, the underlying reason may require a more intrusive operation or extensive therapy.

Additionally, you may risk getting anemia if your prolonged period results in more significant blood loss. This could aggravate fatigue and a sensation of weakness.

Iron deficiency anemia

Iron deficiency anemia, characterized by low hemoglobin and red blood cells, can result from prolonged and severe menstrual bleeding. Over time, excessive blood loss can deplete iron reserves, resulting in exhaustion, weakness, pale skin, and shortness of breath.

Fatigue and weakness

The extended duration of bleeding can cause fatigue and weakness due to the loss of blood and iron. Excessive blood loss can lead to an overall feeling of tiredness and decreased energy levels.

Interference with daily activities

Long periods can disrupt daily activities and impact a person’s quality of life. Frequently changing sanitary products, avoiding certain activities due to the fear of leakage, and dealing with discomfort and pain can all interfere with work, social life, and overall well-being.

Pain and discomfort

Menstrual cramps and pelvic pain are common during periods. Prolonged bleeding can exacerbate these symptoms and lead to increased pain and discomfort.

The emotional and psychological impact

Long periods can cause emotional and psychological distress. The disruption in daily life, chronic pain, and the anticipation of future periods can lead to anxiety, mood swings, irritability, and feelings of depression.

Disruption of hormonal balance

Hormonal imbalances can contribute to irregular or prolonged periods. The fluctuation in hormone levels can disrupt the menstrual cycle, leading to more extended periods and associated complications.

Increased risk of infection

Prolonged periods can increase the disease risk, particularly if proper hygiene practices are not followed. The constant presence of blood can create a favourable environment for bacteria growth and raise the chances of developing infections such as bacterial vaginosis or yeast infections.

Your doctor can ask for a blood test to identify anemia. Your doctor could advise adding more iron-rich foods to your diet and possibly taking an iron supplement if your iron levels are low to bring them back to normal.

In addition to being unpleasant, prolonged periods can affect your quality of life and well-being. Due to your extended period, you may miss days of work or school or stop participating in activities you like.

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Consult a Doctor

Though most long periods will resolve on their own if a person experiences any of the following symptoms, they should speak to a doctor:

  • periods that last for longer than seven days
  • unexplained bleeding
  • unusual discharge
  • heavy periods
  • nausea, vomiting, or severe pain during a period
  • unexplained weight loss
Is it normal to have a month-long period?

No, while menstrual cycles can vary, a month-long period is typically not standard. Prolonged bleeding may indicate an underlying issue that warrants medical attention.

Can a long period mean pregnancy?

No, although pregnancy can cause light bleeding or spotting, a month-long period is atypical during pregnancy. If pregnancy is suspected or concerns arise regarding menstrual patterns, taking a pregnancy test and consulting a healthcare professional can provide clarity and guidance.

What does it mean when your period lasts more than 7 days?

When your period lasts more than 7 days, it is considered a prolonged period or menorrhagia. Menstrual cycles typically range from 21 to 35 days, with bleeding lasting 2 to 7 days. It may indicate a health issue if your period consistently exceeds 7 days or occurs frequently. This may be hormonal or due to pathological causes.

What is considered a too-long period?

Typically, a period lasting longer than seven days or involving excessive bleeding that necessitates frequent pad or tampon changes within a short span is considered too long.

Can stress cause longer periods?

While stress may not directly cause more extended periods, it can disrupt hormonal balance and contribute to menstrual irregularities. The interplay between stress and reproductive health is intricate, and managing stress through self-care practices, seeking support, and adopting stress-reducing techniques can positively impact menstrual well-being. Prioritizing holistic health is vital to maintaining a harmonious menstrual cycle.

Your Doctors Online uses high-quality and trustworthy sources to ensure content accuracy and reliability. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and medical associations to provide up-to-date and evidence-based information to the users.

  • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Heavy Menstrual Bleeding
  • Mayo Clinic. Menstrual cycle: What’s normal, what’s not
  • Womens Health. Period problems
  • Davies J, Kadir RA. Heavy menstrual bleeding: An update on management. Thromb Res. 2017 Mar;151 Suppl 1:S70-S77. doi: 10.1016/S0049-3848(17)30072-5. PMID: 28262240.
  • Duckitt K, Collins S. Menorrhagia. BMJ Clin Evid. 2008 Sep 18;2008:0805. PMID: 19445802; PMCID: PMC2907973.
  • Kocaoz S, Cirpan R, Degirmencioglu AZ. The prevalence and impacts heavy menstrual bleeding on anemia, fatigue and quality of life in women of reproductive age. Pak J Med Sci. 2019 Mar-Apr;35(2):365-370. doi: 10.12669/pjms.35.2.644. PMID: 31086516; PMCID: PMC6500811.

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