07.24.2008  BY DR. KATE

Dear Dr. Kate,

For the past six months I've been having never-ending periods. They last almost the entire month, and I only have one or two days of no bleeding each month. My periods never came normally but the longest they used to last was like two weeks. What can I do to get my period normally, or to just last three to five days??

Tired of Going With The Flow

TOGWTF,

It may be nothing, but your bleeding could be a sign of something more serious, and your doctor will likely want to rule out some or all of these conditions:

  • Hormonal problems. Thyroid disease and pituitary disease can cause dysfunctional bleeding. Your doctor can check for these with blood tests.
  • Structural problems. You can think of these as unwanted house guests in your uterus. Polyps and fibroids can both cause prolonged bleeding, and can usually be detected with an ultrasound.
  • Blood clotting problems. Especially if you're young, prolonged bleeding can be a sign of clotting problems. Your gyno may do some blood tests or send you to a hematologist (a blood disorder specialist).
  • Hyperplasia. This is a precancerous condition in your uterus. Depending on your age and other risk factors for cancer, your gyno may want to do a small biopsy of the lining of your uterus.

If the tests all come back negative, then the bleeding is probably ovarian dysfunction, and can be regulated with hormonal birth control. The pill, the patch, the ring, or the hormonal IUD can all make your periods shorter, lighter, and (thank heaven) predictable.

How has birth control affected your periods?



5 Comments

Michelle said:

It's stopped them, yay! I use the contraceptive injection - suits me perfectly because I'm an accident(al pregnancy) waiting to happen. I wouldn't rely on taking the pill, I'd undoubtedly forget.

So I don't have periods at all while I'm on it, and if I do, they're extremely light - not even heavy enough to need a panty liner. The only complaint I have with the injection is that it seems to exacerbate my migraines - but it's a trade I'm happy to make for no periods and peace of mind!

Brian said:

This was a very timely post, as my wife has been complaining about the same issue, but only after she stopped taking the pill a year ago. Since then her cycle has been completely irregular and now has not stopped months. It has been one of the obstacles that has kept us from having sex for over a year, but that's a very long story for another topic. I keep telling her to see a doctor, call them now. She says she will but she plays the waiting game instead, waiting for things to improve on their own. What do you think?

LISA said:

HELLO, I HAVE A SEX PARTNER AND WE BEEN TOGETHER FOR 3 YEARS, BUT OVER THE YEARS I NOTICED I KEEP AN YEAST INFECTION I BEEN TO THE DOCTOR MANY OF TIMES AND THEY GIVE ME THAT LITTLE PINK PILL AND IT WORKS, BUT I CAN'T AFFORD TO KEEP GOING TO THE DOCTOR, SO HOW CAN I GET RID OF IT AT HOME. I WAS ON THE INTERNET AND DISCOVERED THIS BOOK THAT HAS HOME REMEDIES TO GET RID OF AN YEAST INFECTION, BUT I NEVER DID ORDER IT BECAUSE I COULD'NT AFFORD TO ORDER THE BOOK. SO CAN YOU HELP ME AND PLEASE TELL ME WHAT TO DO TO GET RID OF IT.

Dr. Kate said:

Brian, if her periods have been irregular for months, they won't likely regulate on their own...she should call her doctor now.

Lisa, there's no easy answer for your problem. But Planned Parenthood clinics see patients on a sliding scale, so you should be able to afford to go.

said:

I had this exact same problem in college. I would bleed for a month straight (I think the longest was near 6 weeks), and then not again for several months. The doctor said it was most likely related to stress and put me on birth control pills . I had to take several a day for the first few days just to get the bleeding to stop but once I was on them my periods were regular. After a few years when I went off the pills my period remained pretty regular. Such a relief!

She also mentioned that some women with irregular periods became regular when they were in committed relationships or had some more security/stability in their lives...

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Em & Lo, more formally known as Emma Taylor and Lorelei Sharkey, are the self-proclaimed Emily Posts of the modern bedroom.

Dr. Kate is an OB/GYN at one of the largest teaching hospitals in New York City.

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