ASK AN OBGYN: What do I do with my Irregular Periods?

Dear SuzyKnew Obgyn:

Last month, in April, my period was on for four days. On the 14th of May, my period was abnormal and went off on the 20th. A day after, I started getting brownish discharge that lasted three days then it turned into regular bleeding. Now I’ve been bleeding with tiny bloodclots. All this started May 21-28 about a week – and I am still bleeding.

T. Townsend

Dear T. Townsend,

I hope the bleeding subsided. A normal menstrual period lasts from 2 to 7 days. Sometimes bleeding that is not part of the regular cycle might occur. This can include a late period, an early period, or bleeding between periods. It can also appear as particularly heavy bleeding or scanty bleeding. It seems this is what is happening to you.

Irregular periods are one of the most common menstrual complaints around. There are various causes of abnormal bleeding. Stress is a commoncause as well as a change in diet or exercise. Newly starting the pill (it can take a while for your body to adjust to the new levels of hormones delivered by hormonal birth control) or missed pills can cause brown staining to bright red bleeding in the middle of the cycle. Also, irritation of the lining of the uterus by an IUD can cause cramping and bloodclots.

Usually, irregular periods are nothing to worry about and depending on the cause of your irregular periods, there may or may not be much you can do about them. If you have only been experiencing irregular periods for a short time (less than 7 months), it is likely that your periods will become regular again on their own. Hormonal contraceptive or hormonal supplement might help regularize your cycle.

However, on occasion, an irregular period can signal a more serious health condition (sexually transmitted disease, miscarriage and even cancer of the uterus, etc…). Early diagnosis and treatment for the underlying condition will prevent more severe complications. If you experience extreme cramping, heavy period bleeding, dizziness, nausea, and/or fainting, you should visit with your health care provider. Fever and purulent secretions need immediate medical attention.

Ask an Obgyn is not meant as an substitute for provider care, but a way for SuzyKnew readers to learn about what other women are experiencing and to hear a provider’s thinking. Consult your provider for any obgyn problem you may be experiencing.