Not just annoying, there’s something quite worrying with a period lasting longer than usual. A woman will become familiar with her menstrual cycles – when it’s going to come, how long it’s going to last, what absorbency of towels or tampons to buy.
When something changes, it’s normal to be worried. Sometimes it can be a sign of something more serious but for the most part, a period lasting longer than usual is not something to be overly concerned about.
Every now and again your body will react in slightly different ways than what you’re used to. If it has been put under any undue stress, it can have an effect on your period. When you don’t eat enough or eat the wrong foods, it can have an effect on your period. There are a lot of things that can have an effect and it is probably one of these causing yours to hang around longer than it usually does.
What is a Normal Period?
There is no ‘normal’ when it comes to a woman’s menstrual cycle and what becomes normal for one woman won’t be normal to another. Each woman’s body is different so by paying attention to your cycles and jotting down when your period comes, you can become more familiar with yours. There are some great applications you can download for your smart phone now which helps you to keep track of your cycle.
A ‘normal’ period is likely to last between four to six days but it can be as few as one or two or as many as seven or eight. The cycle itself can last for anywhere between 21 to 35 days but again, it can be more or fewer than this. It varies from woman to woman.
The majority of women find that the first few days of her period are quite heavy with a heavier flow and more pronounced symptoms. The middle few days of a period are relatively normal before it finally dwindles to a low flow and then eventually stopping.
Common Reasons for a Period Lasting Longer Than Usual
There are a lot of factors which could cause your periods to come later or to stay for longer and one of the biggest ones is stress. When you are worried about your late period, it normally takes even longer to arrive and that’s because the stress hormones are wreaking havoc around your body. Worrying about your period can actually disrupt it even more than the original cause.
When your period is late, you might often find that your period then lasts longer and seems to be more painful too. If your period is lasting longer than usual but it was late to begin with, you have probably found your reason.
Temperature changes, big changes to your life, dietary changes and even weight gain or weight loss can have an impact on the way your body behaves especially with your menstrual cycle. It is a more finely tuned instrument than we give it credit for and it doesn’t take much to cause things to be out of balance. Even something as simple as the tiniest of hormones changes can affect it which is why your periods are likely to be out-of-cycle during puberty and the menopause also.
There are some more serious reasons as to why your period could be lasting longer than usual. If it seems to be a persistent problem, or the bleeding doesn’t subside after a couple of days, it is advisable to seek out a doctor as it could be a symptom of these:
Menorrhagia is a condition which causes heavy or irregular periods. It is not known what can cause it to happen but it’s been closely linked to other conditions such as PCOS or polycystic ovary syndrome, using the contraceptive coil (IUD), uterine fibroids and even anticoagulants.
Abnormal Uterine Bleeding
Another condition that often has many causes behind it, abnormal uterine bleeding is diagnosed by a doctor when blood occurs irregularly from the uterus. This might be bleeding in between periods, much heavier periods or periods that last much longer than usual.
Also known as DUB (dysfunctional uterine bleeding), hormones are used to treat the abnormal uterine bleeding, normally in the form of birth control tablets.
In the majority of cases, the cause cannot be determine for the unusual bleeding although it can be down to other problems such as changes in the hormone levels, problems with blood-clotting such as using anticoagulants, and even other uterine problems like growths and abnormalities.
Although not cancer, the similarities are quite frightening and there is a chance that women could go on to develop uterine or womb cancer when suffering from Endometrial Hyperplasia.
Normally caused because of hormone being out of balance, the lining of the womb thickens with this medical condition going on to cause an overgrowth of cells which can come out during your period.
If there is not enough progesterone in your body but you are producing too much oestrogen, this problem can occur and birth control pills and other hormone treatments can be used to treat the problem.
Alongside a period lasting longer than usual, there are a number of other symptoms including severe cramps with a heavier flow, pain during intercourse and blood clots.
These non-cancerous growths often wreak havoc with the menstrual cycle and although they incredibly rarely turn into cancer, can still prove to be quite serious nevertheless.
Growing from the usually-smooth cervix muscular tissue tissue, uterine fibroids can grow quite rapidly in some cases yet in others will move quite slowly and in some cases, they grow to a certain size and then stop growing. The benign tumours may even shrink or go away of their own accord. It has been said that three out of four women could have uterine fibroids and not even realise it.
The symptoms of uterine fibroids including period lasting longer than usual as well as pain and cramping, heavy periods, pain or pressure in the pelvis, need to go to the toilet a lot but not being able to urinate, constipation and even pains in the legs and back.
When you suffer with any thyroid changes, it is likely that you will lose or gain weight and as we have already established, this weight gain could again be causing your period to last longer than it usually would.
The links, although there, are not fully understood by professionals in the field of healthcare just yet although there seem to be some constants in their studies. Hypothyroidism has been linked closely with menorrhagia, one usually bringing along the other close behind. Hypothyroidism has also been linked to long and painful periods, irregular bleeding and even missed periods altogether.
The body is a very delicate object sometimes and if one thing changes, other organs and parts soon start to notice. This is definitely the case with your periods. If you are stressed or sick, or even taking medication for an unrelated condition, it can have an effect on your periods and just one of those effects is periods that last longer than usual.
If the problem persists, always seek medical advice.