Menstrual cycles typically last between 21 and 35 days, with three to seven days of bleeding. However, if bleeding continues for over seven days or there is spotting throughout the month, this is considered a prolonged period.
Continue reading to find out more about prolonged and continuous periods, including causes and treatment options, to be on your way to optimal reproductive system health.
Causes of Prolonged Periods
One of the most common causes of irregular periods - before and throughout the menopausal transition - is hormonal imbalance.
Estrogen is primarily responsible for thickening the uterine lining, while progesterone triggers its shedding. If normal levels of both become unbalanced, the equilibrium of other menstruation-essential hormones are thrown off, too. As a result, prolonged menstrual bleeding as well as other types of irregular periods may occur.
Additionally, there are a number of other factors that could cause continuous menstrual bleeding or worsen the underlying imbalance, including:
- Starting or stopping birth control
- Inserting an intrauterine device (IUD)
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Uterine or cervical polyps
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
In rare cases, prolonged or continuous bleeding can also be a symptom of a more complex disorder, such as an underactive thyroid, lupus, cervical cancer, or an injury in the vaginal area.
If you are experiencing prolonged bleeding with or without abdominal pain, talk to a physician.
Managing Prolonged Periods
Certain lifestyle adjustments may not correct hormonal imbalances, but they can provide a great deal of relief as they minimize disruption to daily activities and may better prepare you for a doctor's visit.
- Maintaining an emergency sanitary stash. Putting a reserve of sanitary napkins and tampons in strategic places - like the office drawer, the car, and your purse - will make any emergencies much easier to deal with.
- Keeping a menstrual journal. Write down any instances of intermenstrual bleeding and how much prolonged period bleeding you experience over the course of each month can help you see if a pattern develops.
Treating Prolonged Periods
Resolving irregular periods once and for all revolves around treating the underlying cause, which - in most cases - is hormonal imbalance, especially for menopausal women.
Consider partaking in the following techniques that foster hormonal equilibrium in the body:
- Exercise. Moderate exercise is essential to regulating hormone levels and lowering stress levels by releasing feel-good neurotransmitters. For those with weak joints, consider water aerobics, light cycling, or power walking. For more stationary routines, partake in strength training, which will also help promote healthy bone density and muscle mass.
- Maintain proper nutrient consumption. Prolonged bleeding can take a toll on your body as it struggles to replenish the lost iron and calcium. Those who do not replenish the lost iron may develop iron deficiency anemia, which further deregulates menstrual cycle patterns.
Many women find long-lasting relief when pairing lifestyle changes with the use of alternative medicine.
For example, plant estrogens found in phytoestrogenic herbal supplements - such as dong quai or chasteberry - help raise estrogen levels in the female body, thus compensating for what the ovaries are not producing.
On the other hand, hormone regulating supplements, like Macafem, work with the body to nourish the endocrine and pituitary glands, thus promoting natural hormonal production. Because they do not introduce external hormones into the body, they are safer for long-term use.
In addition, other herbal remedies can help relieve associated menstrual cramping (like raspberry leaf) or fatigue (like ginseng) that comes with a prolonged menses.
Medications and surgery
Women with more severe cases of prolonged and continuous periods may consider pharmaceutical options.
Most traditional doctors will push to prescribe oral contraception or hormone therapy to regulate the menstrual cycle and balance your hormone levels. If medical therapy is unsuccessful, surgical treatment will be pursued on an individual basis.
Don't let prolonged periods keep you from staying healthy and positive. Armed with the information and suggestions above, you could soon be on your way to regular and healthy menstrual cycles. Click on the following link for more information about natural and effective irregular period treatments.
- Mayo Clinic. (2017). Menorrhagia (heavy menstrual bleeding): Symptoms & causes | Diagnosis & treatment. Retrieved February 28, 2019, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menorrhagia/symptoms-causes/syc-20352829 | https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menorrhagia/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20352834
- Victoria State Government. (2017). Menstruation - abnormal bleeding. Retrieved February 28, 2019, from https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/menstruation-abnormal-bleeding