Normal menstrual bleeding lasts from 3 - 5 days. While it occurs on the average of every 28 days, anywhere from 21 - 35 days between periods is considered normal. For some women, their period is accompanied by cramps. Some women experience cramps with their cycle some months and other months have none at all. Some individuals always have very heavy periods while others bleed very lightly. There is no “one size fits all” description of every woman’s menstrual bleeding.
For most women, keeping a calendar of your period is helpful, both to know clearly when your last cycle started and stopped and to have a record of any unusual bleeding that may occur.
Bleeding or spotting between periods can be a frightening experience. Usually there is no serious problem, but you should consult with your doctor or nurse practitioner if you are concerned. There are many causes of irregular bleeding, some causes are:
- Pregnancy Implantation
- Hormonal Fluctuations
- Starting, stopping or missing oral contraceptives
- Low thyroid levels
- IUD’s occasionally cause bleeding
- Injury to the vagina
- Malignant Cancers
- Undiagnosed vaginal infections
- Vaginal dryness
If you are post-menopausal or younger than 11 and bleeding, you should consult with your doctor. If you experience breakthrough bleeding between periods, it can be helpful to keep a log of how much and how often. This information may be helpful when discussing this bleeding with your healthcare provider.
Occasionally a woman may miss a period all together. This may indicate pregnancy. There are other causes. Medications may cause you to bleed irregularly, or may cause you to have your period early, late or not at all. Stress can also be a factor that influences your period. Changing birth control may also effect your period temporarily. We see this in some women who start with Depo Prevera injections.
Each woman’s body is unique. If you experience unusual bleeding, spotting, or miss a period, there is probably nothing to worry about, but we encourage you to consult with your healthcare provider if you are concerned.