Abnormal Periods/Menstruation (Amenorrhea, Dysmenorrhea)

Abnormal periods can mean irregular timing for menstrual periods or problems associated with menstruation including heavy bleeding, excessive pain or long-lasting periods.

Every woman’s menstrual cycle is a little different. Your cycle (length of time between periods) may be as short as 23 days or as long as 35 days. However, anything that is different from this range is may be considered abnormal and may require medical attention from your OB-GYN or primary care provider.

An average menstrual cycle lasts 28 days, counted from the first day of the last menstrual period to the first day of the next one. Periods last an average of six days, with some women having a very light flow and others having a very heavy flow. The length of women’s cycles and periods varies, particularly during the first one to two years after menarche (the first menstrual period).

If you have any of the following symptoms, consult a health care provider:

  • Your menstrual cycles are longer than 31 days apart, or your cycle begins 14 days or less after the previous one ended.
  • You need to change your tampon or sanitary pad after only one or two hours.
  • Your period lasts longer than seven days.
  • You suddenly begin experiencing severe menstrual cramps.
  • Your flow includes very heavy blood clots.
  • You’re postmenopausal or younger than 11 and experience any amount of vaginal or uterine bleeding.
  • You’re older than 16 and haven’t had a period yet.

Diagnostic tests

A variety of tests may be used to discover the reason or reasons your period is not normal. Tests include pelvic examination, transvaginal ultrasound, endometrial biopsy, hysterosalpingography (a type of X-ray image), hysteroscopy (a visual examination of the cervix and interior of uterus using a thin lighted, flexible tube called a hysteroscope), or laboratory tests.

Your menstrual cycle could be irregular for several reasons. Speak with your LVPG obstetrician-gynecologist (OB-GYN) or your primary care provider about your concerns to help you get the answers you need.