Answering Questions About Irregular Periods, Bleeding, & More
Do you have questions about your menstrual cycle? Irregularities such as heavy menstrual bleeding or shortened cycles aren’t uncommon, but they don’t always mean something is amiss with your health. As one of New York’s premier experts in women’s reproductive health, Manhattan Reproductive Surgery Center (MRSC) is here to answer all your menstruation questions. We specialize in treating irregular periods and abnormal bleeding for Greater New York City Metro Area patients of all ages. Contact us today to schedule an appointment at our state-of-the-art stand-alone ambulatory surgery center in NYC.
What’s the Menstrual Cycle?
A woman’s body goes through several changes every month in preparation for the possibility of pregnancy. The menstrual cycle refers to the process of the ovaries releasing an egg during ovulation, while hormones in the uterus prepare for egg fertilization. If the egg isn’t fertilized, it must be discarded through the vagina along with the lining of the uterus. This is what causes a menstrual cycle or period. Menstrual cycles will vary by woman and even month to month, making it sometimes difficult to diagnose abnormal periods. The average menstrual cycle could fall anywhere between 21 and 45 days.
How Long Is the Average Period Length?
The average period is three to five days, although it can fall anywhere between two and seven days. As you age, it’s not uncommon for your periods to become shorter in length, fluctuate with light or heavy flows, or be painful or pain-free. If your period lasts longer than seven days with heavy menstrual bleeding, you should talk to your doctor.
How Can I Track My Menstrual Cycle?
Paying attention to your menstrual cycle can help you identify any irregularities. The menstrual cycle is usually tracked from the beginning of one period to the next, though the time between the two isn’t always the same. We suggest keeping track of your menstrual cycle using a calendar. Write down your start date every month for a few months to see how regular your periods are and identify any causes for concern. Be sure to note the flow (is it heavier or lighter than usual), any cramping, mood or behavioral changes, and any abnormal bleeding in between cycles. It’s not uncommon for your menstrual cycle to fluctuate throughout your lifetime, especially as you age and near menopause.
What Causes Menstrual Cycle Irregularities?
Sometimes, stress or diet changes can influence menstrual cycle irregularities. If you’ve experienced extreme weight loss due to excessive exercising or an eating disorder, it can cause irregular periods. Hormonal imbalances often cause irregular periods, as does being overweight or underweight. Pregnancy and breastfeeding can also impact your menstrual cycle. Sometimes, irregular periods are caused by a more serious health concern, such as uterine fibroids, polycystic ovary syndrome, pelvic inflammatory disease, or premature ovarian failure. Talk to your doctor if you’ve missed a period or experienced abnormal bleeding or pelvic pain.
How Are Irregular Periods Treated?
Irregular periods are preventable for some women through the use of birth control pills or a hormonal intrauterine device (IUD). Anemic patients may benefit from taking iron pills to regulate menstrual bleeding. Always talk to your doctor to determine the best solution for your body and lifestyle. A thorough pelvic exam, ultrasound, and blood tests may be necessary to diagnose irregular periods.
Are Painful Menstrual Cramps Normal?
Keep in mind that “normal” fits a broad range. What’s normal for you may not be normal for someone else. Some women experience painful menstrual cramps every month, while others do not experience any pain or discomfort. Common period pains include abdominal cramps, breast tenderness, back pain, headaches, nausea, and mood swings. Heavy menstrual bleeding often causes more painful cramping.
How Can I Reduce My Menstrual Cramping?
If you suffer from severe menstrual cramping, your doctor may be able to prescribe birth control pills to help regulate and make your periods lighter and less painful. You could also explore over-the-counter medications, heating pads, massage therapy, acupuncture, acupressure, and other complementary or alternative medicines to reduce menstrual pain.
What Is a Hormonal Imbalance? What Are the Symptoms?
A hormonal imbalance occurs when a woman’s body produces too much or too little of a specific hormone, such as estrogen or progesterone. A blood test can reveal a hormonal imbalance. Causes for a hormonal imbalance may include stress, injury, or trauma. Common symptoms of a hormonal imbalance may include heavy or irregular periods, hair loss or thinning, weight gain or difficulty losing weight, night sweats, and more.
Why Is My Period Late? Am I Pregnant?
You could be pregnant. If you’re sexually active and pregnancy could be a possibility, take a home pregnancy test or get it confirmed at your doctor’s office. Sometimes, stress, medications, diet, and exercise can cause late or skipped periods. Hormonal fluctuations, especially during adolescence, can also cause late or missed periods for young women.
Can You Get Pregnant on Your Period?
Although the chances of conception during your period are low, you can get pregnant. Your chance of pregnancy increases until ovulation and begins to drop after ovulation. If the average menstrual cycle lasts 28 days, fertility experts estimate ovulation happens about 14 days before the period starts. If the average menstrual cycle is 35 days, ovulation will occur around day 21.
When Should I Discuss Irregular Periods With My Doctor?
Any time you have questions or concerns about irregular periods or abnormal bleeding, you should feel free to contact your doctor. If you’re in the Greater NYC Metro Area, Manhattan Reproductive Surgery Center would be happy to schedule you an appointment when you reach out to us via phone