Is Your Cycle On A Roller Coaster?

Some women experience a regular, predictable menstrual cycle every month. However, many women are unable to predict the menstrual cycle and experience a monthly roller coaster of irregular bleeding and period symptoms. Abnormal uterine bleeding (AUB) can occur for a number of reasons. Here are 5 signs that a woman should speak to a doctor about AUB.

1. Your cycle is too long or too short

The length of a normal menstrual cycle is between 24-38 days. Bleeding typically lasts for 4-8 days. Women who are experiencing a menstrual cycle that is consistently shorter than 24 days or longer than 38 days should speak with an OB/GYN for evaluation and treatment.

An irregular menstrual cycle can also mean that periods are so irregular as to not even be somewhat predictable. Irregular periods can indicate problems with ovulation and can make getting pregnant more difficult. Women should consult with a physician about what treatment options are best, depending on the reason for the abnormal bleeding.

2. You’re experiencing a lot of blood loss

There is a wide range of what’s considered a normal period. Most women experience up to 2 tablespoons of blood loss per menstrual cycle. Anything over 5 tablespoons is considered to be heavy bleeding.

Heavy bleeding alone may not be a problem. However, if a woman is bleeding through a tampon every hour, this could indicate an underlying condition such as uterine fibroids or polyps. An OB/GYN can provide a diagnosis and treatment options on an individual basis.

3. You have bleeding between periods

Irregular spotting between periods may occur when a woman’s estrogen levels remain elevated after an egg is released and not fertilized. If this happens regularly, over time, a woman’s endometrium may thicken and shed irregularly, leading to irregular bleeding.

Treatment options will vary on an individual basis. Women will need different treatment options depending on the age of the woman, the heaviness of the bleeding, and if pregnancy is desired. In many cases, birth control pills will be an effective treatment to help control AUB.

4. There is bleeding or spotting after sex

Abnormal bleeding can refer to any bleeding that happens at abnormal times, including after sex. Bleeding after sex affects around 9% of women and is most often caused by cervical inflammation. This cervical inflammation can be ongoing but is often caused by a sexually transmitted infection such as chlamydia or gonorrhea.

Additionally, bleeding after sex can be caused by cervical polyps. While most are not cancerous, a woman will need to see a doctor for polyp removal. Seeking treatment early ensures that cervical inflammation or polyps don’t develop into more serious conditions.

5. You are getting no period at all

Women can stop getting a period for many reasons. Besides getting pregnant, stopping menstruating can be a result of over-exercising or being underweight. Getting no period at all can also be a sign of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

PCOS is a hormonal disorder that can lead to struggles with fertility. Seeking treatment is important for avoiding complications. Treatment may involve lifestyle changes such as losing weight, hormonal birth control, or other medications.

Seek treatment to rule out underlying conditions

Abnormal bleeding can occur for many different reasons. Any time a woman is experiencing unpredictable periods, this could indicate a more serious underlying condition. A physician can consult with each woman on a one-on-one basis regarding diagnosis and treatment options for AUB.