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Women's Health

Extended menstrual cycle

06/12/2006

Question:

In late january, 2006 I experenced light spotting as a period. Normal for me is A light 2 o 3 day period, no cramps or anything, I must say Ive been very fortaniate. In late Febuary I started my period and it was heavier then normal but not a huge difference. I contacted my doctor after this period lasted a whole month, to the day! He had told me he didnt see any cists or anything wrong with my ovaries and concluded that it must have been a early miscarrage. So when my next period came I expected a normal period but to my surprise, I am on my 29th day of being on my period, with the occasional day off from it. It goes from lighter to heavier and I am changing the tampon about every two to three hours. What could be wrong?

Answer:

Please seek care about your change in menstrual flow.  Your doctor may want to check for problems that are associated with continued blood loss such as anemia.

The most likely source for your abnormal bleeding is absence of ovulation.  When this absence of ovulation occurs the body has no clear rise and fall of the female hormones each month that signal the start and stop of your period.  The reason you are not ovulating is not clear. It can be related to obesity as many women who are obese have problems with excess estrogen and irregular ovulation.  It also could be other hormonal reasons such as abnormal thyroid function or premenopause.  These conditions can be evaluated with simple blood tests ordered by your doctor.

Another possible answer is fibroid tumors which are benign non cancerous growths in the uterus that can cause painful, heavy and irregular periods.  This can be evaluated with and exam and/or a pelvic ultrasound.

Please seek care to help determine the cause, prevent it from occurring again and recognizing any associated problems with it.

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Response by:

Allison A Macerollo, MD Allison A Macerollo, MD
Clinical Assistant Professor of Family Medicine
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University