For most women, periods last just three to five days. But what happens if your period goes beyond the five-day mark? Should you rush out and see your doctor, or is there no cause for concern?
Table of Contents
- 16 Causes for a Prolonged Period
- 1. You’ve Just Started Your Period
- 2. Menorrhagia
- 3. Adenomyosis
- 4. Dysfunctional Uterine Bleeding
- 5. Endometrial Hyperplasia
- 6. Fibroids
- 7. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
- 8. Thyroid Issues
- 9. Ectopic Pregnancy
- 10. Intrauterine Device (IUD) Usage
- 11. You May Be Pregnant
- 12. Early Miscarriage
- 13. Using Hormonal Birth Control Methods
- 14. Various Diseases
- 15. You’re Approaching Menopause
- 16. You’ve Contracted a Sexually Transmitted Infection
- How Long Do Periods Normally Last?
- When to See a Doctor If Your Period Last Long?
- How to Stop a Long (Prolonged) Period?
- How to Cope When Your Period Is Prolonged?
- Home Remedies to Try Out
16 Causes for a Prolonged Period
Why won’t my period go away? There are many reasons why your period may go on longer than expected. But remember that it’s not uncommon for menstruation to last seven days.
If your period is still going on after the seven-day mark, here’s why:
1. You’ve Just Started Your Period
The average cycle is 28 days, although it may be shorter or longer for some women. But in the first few years of menstruation, cycles are typically longer. As you become more regular, your cycle shortens.
Along with a longer cycle, you may also have your period for longer than average.
If you’ve just menstruating, this is likely the cause of your extended period.
Menorrhagia is a condition that can cause excessively prolonged and heavy periods that are irregular.
Heavy bleeding is a concern for many premenopausal women, but in most cases, the bleeding isn’t heavy enough to be considered menorrhagia. In other words, this condition causes serious blood loss.
Women with menorrhagia lose so much blood and their periods last so long that they cannot maintain their normal activities.
Common symptoms of menorrhagia include:
- Bleeding for more than seven days.
- Soaking through at least one tampon or sanitary pad every hour for several hours.
- Needing to wear two sanitary pads to control your menstrual flow.
- Anemia (severe fatigue, tiredness, and shortness of breath).
- Unable to maintain normal activities.
- Needing to change sanitary pads or tampons in the middle of the night.
Adenomyosis occurs when the endometrium, or the inner lining of the uterus, starts to break through the wall of the uterus. This condition may be confined to one spot, or it may be located throughout the entire uterus.
While not considered life-threatening, the condition can cause some very uncomfortable symptoms, including:
- Prolonged and very heavy menstrual bleeding.
- Abdominal bloating and pressure.
- Severe pain and cramping.
Adenomyosis is a common condition, and it is typically diagnosed in women who have had children and middle-aged women.
Women who have had uterine surgery may also be at higher risk of developing this condition.
When uterine bleeding is abnormal, a condition called dysfunctional uterine bleeding may be the cause. As its name suggests, this condition occurs when there’s a disruption to the normal cyclic pattern of the endometrial lining.
Common symptoms include:
- Unpredictable bleeding
- Excessive bleeding
- Prolonged periods
Approximately 1-2% of women who do not seek treatment for this condition will develop endometrial cancer.
Endometrial hyperplasia occurs when the uterine lining is too thick. In most cases, excess estrogen and too little progesterone is what causes this condition.
When ovulation does not occur, the body does not make progesterone, and the lining of the uterus does not shed. As a result, the uterine lining continues to grow. The cells that make up the lining may cluster together and eventually become abnormal.
Common symptoms of this condition include:
- Heavy and/or prolonged menstrual bleeding.
- Shorter menstrual cycles (less than 21 days).
- Bleeding after menopause.
Endometrial hyperplasia can be treated with progestin, or synthetic progestogen.
Uterine fibroids are common among women of reproductive age. This condition occurs when benign tumors begin growing in the womb.
Depending on the severity of the condition, you may or may not experience any symptoms. Those that do havesymptoms will often experience:
- Constipation and frequent urination
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Prolonged menstrual bleeding
- Pain in the back and legs
- Pressure in the pelvis
Hormonal therapy can help alleviate the symptoms of this condition and shrink the fibroid tumors.
7. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Hormonal imbalance can lead to polycystic ovarian syndrome, better known as PCOS. Over time, the imbalance can lead to a variety of symptoms, including:
- Heavy, prolonged menstrual bleeding
- Difficulty getting pregnant
- Amenorrhea (absence of period)
- Excessive hair growth on the face, chest, back and stomach
With PCOS, testosterone levels are higher than normal, which can lead to issues with fertility and a host of other symptoms.
PCOS can be managed, so speak to your doctor about your treatment options.
8. Thyroid Issues
Certain thyroid conditions can also cause your period to last longer than normal. The thyroid is responsible for regulating metabolism.
Periods that are longer, heavier and more painful than normal may be a sign of hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid.
Other symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
- Hair loss
- Dry skin
- Brittle nails
- Weight gain
- Irregular periods
- Sensitivity to cold
- Sexual dysfunction
Thyroid conditions can be treated or managed through medication or surgery. If you have any of the above symptoms, see your doctor right away to discuss treatment options.
9. Ectopic Pregnancy
If you are bleeding for more than a week, your period may not be to blame. Ectopic pregnancy can cause similar symptoms, and treatment must be sought right away.
A pregnancy test can confirm whether the bleeding is caused by an ectopic pregnancy.
10. Intrauterine Device (IUD) Usage
This is one of the most common causes why younger women have long periods. Younger women tend to use intrauterine devices, which are a type of birth control that is placed directly into a woman’s cervix. With that in mind, there are two main types of IUDs.
The first is a non-hormonal, copper-based IUD and the second is a hormonal, progestin-based IUD. However, while both are different, both can cause abnormally long periods. This is particularly true, especially right after insertion.
In fact, heavier periods are a confirmed side effect of the copper IUD. On the other hand, the progestin IUD is advertised as a way to reduce or possibly even eliminate a woman’s period. However, this is usually a pro that is gained after the first few cycles.
Initially, progestin-IUD users may have more or longer bleeding than they usually do. If you find that after three cycles your periods remain long and heavy, you may want to go back to your doctor to check if your IUD has moved out of position or if it simply does not suit you.
While no periods are usually a tell-tale sign of pregnancy, this is not always the case. It is possible for you to get abnormal menses as a result of pregnancy. In fact, many common signs of pregnancy may be absent from a woman. It all depends on the individual.
Hence, if you feel like there’s a possibility that you may be pregnant and you have abnormal periods, consider getting a blood test to check for pregnancy to see if it is the cause.
12. Early Miscarriage
Early miscarriages are actually very common. In fact, up to 50% of pregnancies actually end in miscarriage before the woman even knew that she was actually pregnant. Abnormal periods are actually one of the only tell-tale signs of this.
Your menstrual cycle length should return back to normal generally within one to two cycles. If it exceeds that time frame, you should contact your doctor. This is actually more common than most think, with 1 in 100 women suffering from repeat miscarriages.
This is why you should consider this a possibility for your prolonged periods.
13. Using Hormonal Birth Control Methods
Messing with your hormones can affect your periods, which includes making it longer than usual. This includes the usage of hormonal birth control pills, patches, rings, shots and implants. However, you can possibly solve your prolonged period issue by trying different options.
There are many options with different types and levels of hormones. Hence, if your body does not work well with one type of hormone or dosage, you can try a few other kinds to find one that works for you.
14. Various Diseases
This possibility is much rarer than the others, but it is also possible that your prolonged period is a symptom of an underlying illness like cancer or a hematologic (blood) disease.
For example, for cervical cancer, abnormal vaginal bleeding as well as spotting and bleeding between periods, bleeding after vaginal sex and prolonged menses are usually one of the very first symptoms. In fact, sometimes, these are the only signs of the disease.
You should stay up-to-date with all your Pap smears and HPV tests to make sure you are in the clear. You should particularly be on alert if you have a family history of cervical cancer.
Be sure to inform your doctor if you think that there’s a possibility that your longer periods are a hint to a more serious disease.
15. You’re Approaching Menopause
As you approach menopause with age, your periods can also get messed up. Usually, women reach menopause at around the age of 50, which is usually when you’ve gone 12 or more months without having a period.
At this time, your body starts to naturally decline in the number of hormones, with this process starting as early as 35. Your periods can either get longer or shorter, as it also gets more random and sporadic. You may also notice some other slight changes as well.
If you have ruled out all the other possibilities and you are getting to your thirties, your prolonged periods may simply be a part of the natural aging process.
16. You’ve Contracted a Sexually Transmitted Infection
Prolonged periods, especially if they are unusually painful, may be a symptom of a sexually transmitted infection. The excessive bleeding may make it seem like you have an especially long period, but it could also mean that you have something like gonorrhea or chlamydia.
If so, you must get it treated as soon as possible, since these infections are best treated early.
How Long Do Periods Normally Last?
For most women, their period only lasts three to five days. However, anywhere from two to seven days is considered normal.
When to See a Doctor If Your Period Last Long?
If your period is lasting longer than seven days, see your doctor right away. Bleeding for more than a week is abnormal.
Seek medical attention if you experience any of the following:
- Severe pain
- Heavy bleeding
- Pressure in the pelvis
- Symptoms that prevent you from carrying out your normal activities
Prolonged periods are often a sign of abnormality in the growth and shedding of the uterine lining. Hormonal imbalance is often to blame, but your doctor will provide you with a proper diagnosis and a proper treatment plan.
How to Stop a Long (Prolonged) Period?
If your period lasts for more than seven days, you may be searching for ways to stop the bleeding right away. Provided the bleeding isn’t too severe, you may have to wait for your body to naturally stop bleeding.
Once your period stops, your doctor can recommend treatment to help prevent excessive bleeding in the future.
Other treatments for prolonged periods include:
- NSAIDS, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, etc.
- Hysteroscopy, a procedure that removes fibroids and other growths in the uterus.
- Hysterectomy, a procedure that removes the cervix and uterus.
- Endometrial resection, a procedure that removes the internal lining of the uterus.
- Tranexamic acid, a treatment that can reduce blood loss.
Discuss your treatment options with your doctor or watch this YouTube video about how to stop your long period
Restoring your body’s natural hormonal balance can help alleviate symptoms and prevent abnormal cycles in the future. There are both natural and conventional treatment options to correct hormonal imbalances. Your doctor can help you choose the right treatment path for you.
Prolonged periods can be concerning, especially if the change is sudden. If you’re bleeding for more than seven days, see your doctor as soon as possible to discuss your symptoms and find the right treatment option for you. While uncomfortable, most of the conditions that cause extensive menstrual bleeding are treatable with medication or surgery.
How to Cope When Your Period Is Prolonged?
A normal period is already a pain to deal with, which makes a prolonged period even worse.
While you try to figure out the reason behind your prolonged period, you should try various ways to help yourself cope with the physical symptoms and emotional experiences you get during a period.
All this can help you before you get a more specific treatment for whatever the cause of your prolonged period is.
Heat can help you ease your cramps and back pain. You can try a variety of heat sources like an electric heating pad on your belly or your lower back. Conversely, you may try taking a hot bath or shower.
The warm or hot water can help you reduce muscle tension. This heat treatment can be used as often as needed during your period to help you feel more comfortable.
When you have painful cramps, you most likely want to lie in bed and get some rest. However, moving around might actually decrease the pain and help you feel better. Exercise helps you release endorphins, which help distract you from the pain.
You can try swimming or even doing a cardio dance class to help reduce your pain. You might need to exercise several times during a prolonged period to feel the full benefits of exercise. A possible activity includes yoga.
Yoga can also help you ease your anxiety and boost your mood. You can also easily pick this up since you can learn it from videos that are online.
While it may be tempting to give in to your cravings when you’re on your period, you should choose to eat more healthily. You should resist the temptation to eat excessively salty or sweet foods.
Since prolonged periods will take up significantly large parts of your months, you should aim to eat as per norm or healthier, rather than making too many exceptions for yourself and binging on snacks.
Salty snacks like chips can actually increase bloating. Instead, you could have some banana and oats since they are said to help reduce cramping.
If you have a headache, you may consider using ice to help you reduce the pain. During your period, you are more susceptible to hormonal headaches, so you can use ice instead of pain medicine.
Some people feel better after an acupuncture session for their headaches. If you want to use this option, you must research your area for an acupuncturist. Once you know of a good location, then you can schedule future appointments in advance.
With periods, you often feel irritable, depressed, anxious and sad. These feelings last even longer since your periods are prolonged. Hence, you may choose to drink some soothing teas that can help you restore your mood.
Some good teas that have soothing properties include lemon, chamomile and holy basil tea. You can experiment with different teas and see which ones work for you and can help you relax and feel better.
Allocate Time for Rest and Relaxation
When you’re dealing with all this period drama, you should give yourself some time to take a break. You should take your time to sleep and even just relax with something you enjoy. At the end of the day, remember to let yourself breathe.
While there are many over-the-counter medicines that can help you with menstruation symptoms, you may consider some home remedies that may resolve some of your issues as well.
Coriander seeds will be able to help you reduce your excessive bleeding. Simply take 2-3 teaspoons of coriander seeds and boil it in 2-3 cups of water for about 5 minutes. Strain the seeds out and then drink the water.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar can help remove the toxins from your body while concurrently maintaining your hormonal balance, which helps you reduce the excessive blood flow. You just need to mix a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water and drink it about twice or thrice a day.
Cinnamon is another spice that can help you reduce your excessive blood flow. You can simply boil a piece of cinnamon in water and sip the water like tea.
Ginger tea can help reduce bloating and can also lessen your excessive menstrual flow. To prepare this, you should take a piece of ginger, beat it a few times before adding it to boiling water. Boil it for about ten minutes before allowing it to cool.
Then, strain the ginger out, add a little honey and drink the water like tea.
Lady’s mantle can help stop external and internal bleeding, which includes excessive menstrual bleeding as well. Lady’s mantle has been said to help regulate menstrual cycles, relieve cramping as well as help heal fibroids and endometriosis.
You can make an infusion using lady’s mantle or drink it like a tea. You should consult your doctor before using this herb to cure your prolonged period.
This is another great option to help you with these period issues. Fennel powder has the ability to ease menstrual pain and reduce your menstrual flow. You can add a teaspoon of fennel powder to boiling water and boil it for several minutes.
After, allow it to cool until it is just warm. Then, strain the powder out and drink the water.
Vitex, which is also known as chasteberry, can possibly relieve prolonged menstrual bleeding. Vitex has been said to normalize pituitary gland functions and can also help improve progesterone functioning.
However, vitex works rather slowly, so you will have to give this herb a few months before noticing significant differences. Vitex can be consumed as an infusion or a tincture. You should consult your doctor before using this herb to help your prolonged period.