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Are My Periods Normal?

Patients frequently ask "are my periods normal?" As a physician when I ask women if their periods are normal, 1/3 will say they are light, 1/3 will say that they are normal, and 1/3 will say that they are heavy. When you look at what their periods are actually doing, patients also are divided into thirds between light, normal, and heavy. What's interesting is that two thirds of people are wrong about what their periods are doing.

A normal menstrual period occurs cyclically between every 21 and every 35 days. If the cycle is shorter it is considered to be abnormal and is called metrorrhagia. If the cycle is longer is also considered to be abnormal and is called oligomenorrhea ("few periods"). The length of the actual flow should be no more than seven days including any pre-or post menstrual spotting. If you use tampons you should be able to go at least three hours before needing to change one. If you wear pads you should be able to go seven hours without changing them. Having some small clots is normal, but having large clots or large numbers of clots is not. Bleeding through to your clothes or sheets, having to wear a pad AND a tampon or doubling up on pads or tampons is not.

Light periods can be normal. They may also be caused by hormonal imbalances,particularly in women who are just starting to get periods or women who are close to menopause. Heavy periods may be caused by hormonal imbalances, uterine growths, or occasionally cancerous or pre-cancerous lesions. When evaluating heavy menses, we want to make sure there is no cancer and then treat the cause. Heavy periods not are annoying, interfering with work and leisure activities, they also cause anemia due to the amount of blood loss every month. Even if you always have and have had heavy periods, you should not just put up with them solely because of the excessive blood loss. Those of you with normal periods are just blessed.

If you are having abnormal periods let us know. We can help.

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