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Prolonged periods i.e. periods lasting for 3 weeks or more are among one of such issues that go un-discussed most of the time. However, any prolonged ignorance of this issue may cost a life.
What does it mean to have prolonged periods?
The average menstrual cycle lasts anywhere between 3 to 7 days. Any period that is lasting more than this is considered as prolonged periods. Sometimes, a woman may bleed for 10 days or so as well.
It is most common during the time when a girl just starts her periods. During the initial days, periods are irregular, long and painful. As time goes by, they start becoming systematic. By the end of your first year of menstrual cycles, you will have a set period pattern.
You can either have a period for 4 days with heavy flow or for seven days with less flow. It totally depends upon the individual.
However, any period that lasts more than seven days is considered as an abnormal period.
Is your period lasting for more than 3 weeks?
Bleeding out of your vagina even for seven days is torturous in all respects. If your periods are lasting three weeks or more then nothing could be more grueling than this. It is both physical and mental trauma.
If your periods are lasting for three weeks that means you need urgent medical help and a proper medical diagnosis as there must be some underlying issue causing this.
What are the reasons for prolonged periods?
Well, there are many as your periods depend upon many factors. However, the main culprits are mentioned below.
If it just happened this time
If this is the first time that your periods lasted for three weeks then the best possible reasons behind this nuisance could be:
1. An early miscarriage
Do you know that pregnancy can be so hard to identify during the early days? Yes, in some cases, pregnancy can be undercover even after 40 days of conceiving. Just like that, early miscarriage also seems like prolonged periods.
It is a common scenario that many pregnancies end before they get detected. So, the bleeding that you think is your period could be an early miscarriage. If you are experiencing heavy abdominal pain along with clot like bleeding then it is not your period. It is an early miscarriage.
Furthermore, a tubal pregnancy i.e. pregnancy outside the uterus also leads to miscarriage and causes prolonged bleeding. If this is the first time that you are experiencing prolonged periods with clot-like bleeding then you need to seek medical help immediately.
2. You missed your previous periods
Missed periods are as common as prolonged periods. Sometimes due to some physical or mental stress, a woman is likely to miss her due periods. If you are amongst one of these women, then your next period is supposed to be last longer.
When you miss a period, your uterus lining becomes thicker than usual and takes time to clear up completely. Hence, you have prolonged periods in the next cycle.
3. You could be pregnant
Periods lasting for three weeks or more don’t always indicate a miscarriage. It indicates pregnancy as well. Yes, you read it right. In some cases, you don’t miss your periods altogether. Rather, you will bleed longer than usual. To rule out the pregnancy, just take a home pregnancy test and get to know whether good news is on its way or not.
4. You have just changed your birth control method
Change in your birth control method is a common reason for prolonged periods. There are many birth control methods available including hormonal birth controls like pills and implants such as IUD.
In both cases, it is normal to have some change of hormone after introduction until your body gets adjusted. This hormonal imbalance may lead to prolonged periods. Even the use of progestin IUD can eliminate your periods completely. So, if you have just started using an IUD or pills then your periods are likely to last longer then what is normal. Though it is common, it should settle down after three consecutive cycles.
5. You have suddenly put on some body weight
The body weight of a woman plays an important role in her menstrual cycle. Women with low body weight may experience delayed or fewer periods. However, with the sudden rise in the body weight the odds are high that you will have periods that last more than 3 weeks. High body fat increases the estrogen level in the body. Estrogen regulates the menstrual cycle at multiple levels. Higher levels of estrogen can lead to heavy and longer periods.
6. If you have just started taking certain medication
There are certain sorts of medicines that can create havoc inside your body and whack your hormones. If you have just started medications for issues like thyroid and blood-thinning, then there are chances of having longer periods. These medications disturb the hormone levels by leaps and bounds and disturbed hormone levels mean longer periods.
Prolonged periods since the beginning
In some cases, women experience prolonged periods since the beginning. In this case, the possible reasons are:
1. Genetic blood disorder
If you are experiencing heavy and longer periods since the beginning, then chances are high that you have some underlying blood disorder that hampers the blood clotting method and leads to prolonged periods. It is better to rule out this possibility in an early stage and take proper medical help.
2. It could be due to PCOS
PCOS or Polycystic ovarian syndrome is one of the main culprits behind almost every menstrual irregularity including prolonged periods. This is a condition where several cysts are developed inside the ovary of women that leads to hormonal imbalance. Due to this hormonal imbalance, your body doesn’t get a proper signal to produce the right amount of eggs and relies at the right time.
It can be from the beginning. Even, some women with PCOS will have periods after a gap of three months as well. If you have high body weight, excessive hair growth and thyroid issues with your prolonged periods then chances are high that PCOS is the culprit. You need to take proper medical help for proper diagnosis and remedy.
In any situation
There are certainly other reasons that can lead to longer periods at any point of time. Those conditions are:
1.Unwanted growths in uterus known as Polyps
Polyps are non-cancerous growths that can appear in any body part. If they have shown up on your uterus then you may experience prolonged periods. They happen to appear on the uterus lining and are non-cancerous most of the time. However, a proper medical examination is required. Uterus polyps are likely to affect women of an older age. However, it may affect younger women as well.
2. Benign uterine fibroids
Uterine fibroids are types of tumors that consist of muscles and tissues. In most cases, women post 50 years of age are likely to get affected and they live with it for many years as well. The presence of such fibroids also leads to prolonged periods.
Periods that last for around three weeks is a great agony and needs proper medical help to rule out the root cause.