What Is The Menstrual Cycle?

A period is when the body expels the uterine lining. The process lasts for three to seven days. The entire menstrual cycle, from the lining’s development to shedding, takes up to 35 days. During the process, women may experience cramps, nausea, fatigue, and other symptoms.  Although these symptoms can be quite uncomfortable, they are a normal part of the process. However, period symptoms can sometimes cause concern when symptoms become very intense or irregular. In these cases, women will need to consult their doctor. Here are some signs that patients may need to speak to a doctor.

1. A period that lasts longer than seven days

As mentioned earlier, it takes the body approximately 3-7 days to completely shed itself of the uterine lining. Periods tend to be heavier during the first couple of days and lighten as time goes on. Periods that last for eight or more days are a sign of a serious problem.  Long, heavy periods could be a sign of uterine fibroids or polyps. Fibroids are tissue growths that develop along the uterus.

Typically, growths cause heavy menstrual bleeding and pelvic pain. Polyps are a collection of cells that clump together into a mushroom-like growth. Polyps and fibroids can grow in the cervix and cause heavy period bleeding.  To find polyps or fibroids, doctors need to conduct an ultrasound on the patient. Doctors also need to test the growths to learn if they are cancerous. To remove fibroids and polyps, doctors will have to schedule a surgery. The entire process can be invasive but ultimately, it provides relief to the patient

2. Irregular periods

On average, the menstrual cycle occurs every 21 to 35 days. It takes time to learn the body’s menstruation cycle. Things like diet and stress can alter the cycle but women should monitor their bodies for at least three months. Three months is a reasonable time to learn the body’s menstrual cycle.  Irregular periods mean that the body doesn’t menstruate at the same time each month or skips a month or two altogether. When a woman starts her menstrual cycle, irregularity is normal, but it does become a problem if it occurs after two years of menstruation.

Period irregularity could be a sign of amenorrhea, a condition where the body stops ovulating altogether. Two other conditions associated with irregularity are perimenopause and polycystic ovarian syndrome. Perimenopause is early menopause occurring in women in their 30s and 40s. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that affects the ovaries and stops the body from releasing eggs. Only a doctor can diagnose patients with either condition.

3. More than one period per month

Having multiple periods per month is not a normal occurrence. During a normal menstrual cycle, the body takes days to create the uterine lining, release an egg, and dissolve the lining. If a patient bleeds more than once a month, their body is going through some condition that causes breakthrough bleeding.  The body is only ovulating once but other factors, such as stress, is causing the body to bleed at different intervals throughout the month. Speaking with a doctor can help patients pinpoint the cause of breakthrough bleeding.