An abnormal period is a period that occurs outside the normal range of the menstrual cycle. For most women, menstruation occurs every 28 days and each period lasts from five to seven days. While some slight variations are normal, periods that vary significantly from these ranges are considered abnormal and can be a sign of an underlying problem. Excessive bleeding or very light bleeding can also be considered, as can spotting between periods. Some birth control products can alter the normal menstruation cycle, and these changes are not necessarily considered abnormal.
Abnormal periods are most often caused by hormonal changes or hormonal imbalances that occur during specific stages of life, such as puberty and perimenopause, or as a result of a medical condition like polycystic ovary syndrome. Sometimes, abnormal bleeding can be a sign of another underlying condition, like an ectopic pregnancy, endometriosis (growth of uterine cells outside the uterus), uterine fibroids, cysts or even tumors. Before any treatment is prescribed, a comprehensive exam will be performed including a pelvic exam to determine the underlying cause. In addition to a pelvic exam and Pap test, you may undergo additional testing for infection or diagnostic exams like ultrasound, CT scan or minimally-invasive exams of your vagina, cervix, uterus and fallopian tubes to look for causes.
That depends on the cause. In some cases, abnormal bleeding can be successfully treated with hormonal therapy. In other cases, minimally-invasive procedures may be necessary to treat the underlying cause, such as fibroids or endometriosis. When abnormal periods occur during perimenopause – the time before you enter menopause and stop having periods – minimally-invasive procedures are available to remove the uterine lining to stop periods from occurring or to reduce bleeding that does occur.
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