Prolonged periods

Periods lasting between 3 and 7 days are considered normal with 5 days being the average[1]NHS Choices. Irregular periods. Last accessed August 2017 http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Periods-irregular/Pages/Introduction.aspx. If your period lasts longer than 7 days per cycle, it is regarded as a prolonged period and you may be classed as having menorrhagia. Menorrhagia, the medical term for heavy periods, is a debilitating condition and one of the most common gynaecological complaints.

Some women have heavy periods (menorrhagia) from a young age and manage to live with it. It is more common for it to start after the age of 30 or 40 e.g. after stopping the pill or having children.

Causes

For up to 60% of women with this condition, no clear cause can be identified, but a change in hormone levels is a common cause. Other causes include:

  • Fibroids
  • Thicker womb lining
  • Polyps
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Endometriosis
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Cancer (rarely)
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Stress, change in diet or exercise routine, recent weight loss or weight gain, travel, or illness

Symptoms

It’s not just the length of the period that impacts a woman experiencing prolonged periods, there are a number of unpleasant physical symptoms that you can have e.g. iron deficiency (anaemia), fatigue, and period pain. Combined these can have a big impact on a woman’s everyday life.

If you suffer from prolonged periods, you don’t need to suffer in silence – there are a range of treatments available for menorrhagia. The first step is to get an appointment with your GP. Visit the Talking to Your GP page to find out how you can get the most out of your appointment.

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