What Constitutes an Abnormal Period?

Over the course of your lifetime, your menstrual period creates a rhythm in your life, and the familiarity can be comforting.  

That said, each woman’s cycle is different. Some have cycles whose lengths are a bit shorter or longer than the typical 28 days, and some women have minimal premenstrual symptoms and discomfort, while others must take to their bed for a day or two with severe cramps, diarrhea, and even vomiting. 

How do you know when your period problems are no longer normal and could be classified as atypical when compared to other women’s?

Dr. Kevin Hooker and our team at Lake Havasu OB/Gyn Care understand the connection between period abnormalities and a range of gynecological problems, and we can relieve your discomfort with a diverse menu of innovative treatments

How do I know if my period has gone from “garden variety” to worrisome?

There are many non-worrisome reasons why your period may be a few days early or a bit late, but when should you worry that something wrong is going on with your period?

Period abnormalities include:

The pain and concern these departures from your cyclical norm cause are good reasons to seek our care promptly. Dr. Hooker can then determine what’s causing your symptoms and treat them appropriately.  

What causes various period abnormalities? 

Natural transitions can cause period irregularities, like spotting and less predictable bleeding when you become pregnant (implantation spotting), your period’s return after giving birth, or going through menopause. 

Conditions that lead to abnormal periods include:

  1. Endometriosis is a disorder where the lining of your uterus, or endometrial tissue, grows beyond your uterus and onto your fallopian tubes, ovaries, and even your intestines. Endometriosis can lead to bleeding and give you cramps prior to and during your period.
    There is a host of possible causes for endometriosis, but a period-related one is retrograde menstruation, when your menstrual flow is directed inward rather than outward, and backs up into your fallopian tubes. Dr. Hooker treats endometriosis based on its severity, and he may recommend pain medication, hysterectomy, hormone therapy, or minimally invasive surgery. 
  2. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) causes fluid-filled cysts on your ovaries, due to their overproduction of male hormones known as androgens. PCOS can prevent regular ovulation, leading to missed periods or menstruation stopping entirely.
    Whether you want to get pregnant or not is a factor that Dr. Hooker discusses with you when he considers treatment for PCOS, because different treatment options are appropriate for women who want to become pregnant and those who don’t. 
  3. A bacterial infection, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), causes pelvic pain, pungent discharge, and nausea and vomiting, in addition to periods that are lengthier or shorter than normal and spotting. It’s important to get timely antibiotic treatment for PID. 
  4. Oral birth control contains hormones and alters your cycle so you don’t get pregnant. This causes period changes, and when you stop taking birth control pills, it can take as long as six months for your period to normalize again. Pills containing the hormone progestin can make you bleed between periods also. 
  5. Fibroids are tumors that attach to your uterus. They can range from micro-sized to grapefruit-sized and are usually benign, but they may make your periods more painful and cause heavier flow. 
  6. It’s also normal for ovarian cysts to develop when you ovulate. They can cause your period to start earlier, make your periods irregular, or induce bleeding in between periods.These cysts often disappear on their own, but if they don’t, Dr. Hooker can treat them with medication and minimally invasive surgery. 

Finally, don’t forget that stress can make your period heavier or lighter than usual, as well as late. It may cause it not to come at all. Stringent dieting and exercise can also cause period irregularity or dysmenorrhea. 

We’re here to help if you’re experiencing abnormal periods. Call our office to schedule a consultation or reach out to us through our website. 

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