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Women's Health

Very strange menstrual cycle: Starts & stops

03/09/2006

Question:

Hi! I normally have a mentrual cycle that is 4-7 days long with at least 3 days of heavy bleeding right at first and then several days of light bleeding although this month, things are very different. I started my period almost two weeks ago, on saturday, and it was medium flow for a little less than 2 days then just abruptly stopped alltogether. Now, 9 days later it suddenly started again. I am passing strange fluid that is not brown, how I would expect it to be b/c its older, but its very dark red and composed of lots of very small clots and mucus . It seems to come in unpredictable little gushes,accompanied by a dull cramp in my back, for a couple minutes, then stop all together. I do not even need to wear a pantyliner in between. This is just really strange to me, and it is possible that I am or was pregnant although I am not trying to conceive per say (and I took a test the day before my period came which was negative). I also had a positive pap smear about 4 or 5 months ago, then had a culposcopy which showed that I have HPV a week later. No symptoms, no signs, but it was in my cervical tissue so its there. I am without health insurance at the moment, for another month, because I changed jobs so I would just like to know if I need to go to the doctor and get checked for this or if its just some weird female anomoly. Also, I dont think its possible given the amount of bleeding I have already had, but is it possible im pregnant? Look forward to your response. Thanks!

Answer:

Given that the average woman will have over 400 menstrual cycles in her lifetime, it would be rare for all of them to occur without some glitch.  A single menstrual cycle that comes late, is especially heavy, or lasts longer than usual is a very common and benign occurrence. 

If periods are consistently abnormal, then it is more likely that there is something wrong that requires treatment.  The exception would be pregnancy, which can cause abnormal bleeding in a variety of ways, and if there is a chance of your being pregnant, then it is important that you be tested to see if that could be the cause.  Bleeding in early pregnancy could be due to a variety of problems, but should definitely prompt a visit to your health care provider.

The fact that HPV was detected on a recent Pap smear does not necessarily have anything to do with your abnormal bleeding.  It is important, however, for you to have regular follow-up for this condition and make sure that the changes on your cervix do not progress to the point of needing treatment.

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Response by:

Jonathan  A Schaffir, MD Jonathan A Schaffir, MD
Clnical Associate Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University