Irregular Bleeding

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Irregular bleeding is a common menstrual complaint. Irregular periods are not usually a cause for concern, but they can signal health complications.

A regular period typically occurs every 28 days and lasts between three and seven days, but every woman’s menstrual cycle is different. The best way to determine if you have a regular period is to track it monthly. If your period happens around the same number of days between each cycle, then your periods are regular.

Causes of Irregular Bleeding

Some common reasons for irregular bleeding include:

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): PCOS is a hormonal disorder that may cause small cysts, or fluid-filled sacs, to develop in the ovaries, causing irregular periods.
  • Premature ovarian failure: Premature ovarian failure is when a woman under the age of 40 loses normal ovarian function, resulting in irregular or no periods.
  • Endometriosis: Endometriosis causes tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus – the endometrium – to grow outside the uterus. The disorder can cause pain – sometimes severe – especially during one's period.
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID): PID is an infection of the reproductive organs that may cause irregular menstrual bleeding.
  • Uterine fibroids: Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths on the uterus. They may cause heavy menstrual periods and bleeding between periods.

When to See a Doctor

  • Your periods suddenly stop for more than 90 days
  • Your periods become erratic
  • Your periods last more than seven days
  • You bleed more heavily than usual — soaking through more than one pad or tampon every hour or two
  • Your periods are less than 21 days or more than 35 days apart
  • You bleed between periods
  • You develop severe pain during your period
  • You suddenly get a fever and feel sick after using tampons

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