When it comes to menstrual cycles, every woman is different. What may be normal for one woman is abnormal for another. Menstrual cycles on average, a woman’s cycle occurs every 30 days. This does not mean if your cycle occurs earlier or later that it is abnormal, and the same is true for your actual “period.”
Some women experience a light or heavy flow only lasting 2 or 3 days, while others may last around 7 days. It’s important for all women to keep track of their monthly cycles. By knowing when your period starts, you’ll be better able to notice any irregularities.
Abnormal Menstrual Bleeding
Abnormal menstrual bleeding is defined as vaginal bleeding which occurs when it’s not expected – such as bleeding in between cycles or a change in flow that is not normal for the woman.
Abnormal Bleeding and Birth Control
Many birth control methods can cause abnormal menstrual bleeding, especially in the first few months of taking them. Some women experience lighter than normal or heavier than normal periods. It’s also very common to experience spotting and/or bleeding in between periods while taking birth control. Some of the newer birth control methods even claim to reduce menstrual periods to a few times a year. Other birth control has been found in some women to totally eliminate periods all together while taking them.
Abnormal Bleeding and Pregnancy
Abnormal menstrual bleeding can be related to pregnancy. Some women spot or bleed similarly to a period when they ovulate. Other women experience spotting or light bleeding during implantation of an egg. Bleeding early on in a pregnancy could indicate a complication such as an ectopic pregnancy (fertilized egg implanted in a fallopian tube) or possibly a miscarriage. Vaginal bleeding occurring later in a pregnancy could indicate many possible pregnancy complications. Any vaginal bleeding that occurs during pregnancy should be evaluated by a doctor.
Abnormal Bleeding: Other Causes
Cancer and other non-cancerous growths can cause abnormal vaginal bleeding. Cancer in younger women or women who have not gone through menopause yet is rare, but it does occur. Most commonly, abnormal bleeding is caused by fibroids, polyps and cysts. A woman’s lifestyle can also affect their menstrual cycle. Eating disorders, drug abuse, certain medications and stress are just a few reasons a woman’s menstrual cycle can become irregular.
Any changes in your menstrual cycle that last more than a month require the attention of your doctor. Your doctor will want to know your menstrual history. This is another reason why all women should be aware of their menstrual cycles. Treatment of abnormal bleeding depends on the cause. Irregular menstrual bleeding occurs in most women at least once in their lifetime. In most instances, irregular or abnormal bleeding is harmless. Consistent changes in your menstrual cycle and/or bleeding pattern may be indicating something more serious and should be evaluated by your doctor or gynecologist.