During your childbearing years, you can expect to get your menstrual period approximately every month for about five days when you aren’t pregnant. If your period often deviates from this pattern, your period might be abnormal.

Abnormal periods don’t always mean there’s a problem, but sometimes they can indicate you have an underlying medical condition that needs treatment.

Julie Madejski, MD, the board-certified gynecologist at Artemis Menstrual Health and Gynecology in Lockport, New York, discusses five of the most common signs your period is abnormal.

Why are abnormal periods a concern?

All women have natural variations in their menstrual cycle. It’s normal for your period to be slightly shorter, longer, lighter, or heavier than another woman’s cycle.

However, abnormal periods can be a sign of a number of health conditions, with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, and uterine fibroids and polyps being among the most common. 

Conditions that cause abnormal periods can also cause problems with your fertility and other unpleasant symptoms. Sometimes, they can even be dangerous to your health.

5 signs your period is abnormal

If you’re not sure if your menstrual cycle is typical, these five symptoms can indicate abnormal menstrual bleeding.

1. Your cycle is significantly longer or shorter than a typical cycle

Your menstrual cycle represents the time it takes for your body to develop and release a mature egg, then release the uterine lining through menstruation. 

Most menstrual cycles last 24-38 days. If your cycle is consistently shorter than 24 days, longer than 38 days, or significantly deviates from your usual pattern, you might have an abnormal period.

2. You regularly don’t get your period

It’s okay to occasionally miss a period, especially if you’re in perimenopause or are a young woman who just started menstruating. But if you miss two or more periods in a row or often miss periods and aren’t pregnant or recently postpartum, that indicates an abnormal period.

3. Your periods are unusually long or short

Periods typically last 3-7 days, with five days being the average length. Your periods are abnormal if they’re consistently shorter than three days or longer than seven.

4. Your menstrual flow is extremely heavy

Like other aspects of your period, the intensity of your menstrual flow can vary.

That said, you might have an abnormal period if your periods frequently are so heavy that you soak through a heavy tampon or menstrual pad in the middle of the night or frequently need to double up on pads or tampons to avoid leaks.

5. Your period is extremely painful

Many women get mild menstrual cramping during their periods. Pain during your period can indicate an underlying problem, though, if it’s regularly severe, debilitating, and long-lasting enough to make it difficult for you to go about your daily routine.

What to do if your period is abnormal

When you have symptoms of abnormal periods, it’s important to schedule an evaluation at Artemis Menstrual Health and Gynecology. 

Our gynecology team performs a thorough exam, including an ultrasound and hysteroscopy if needed, to see if there’s an underlying condition causing your abnormal periods. We develop a treatment plan based on the cause of your abnormal bleeding. 

Treatment can include the removal of uterine polyps and fibroids, birth control that regulates your cycle, a levonorgestrel containing intrauterine device, and endometrial ablation, a minimally invasive in-office procedure that reduces or stops heavy menstrual bleeding.

To schedule a consultation for your abnormal periods, call us today for an appointment.