Monday, April 06, 2009

Neverending Periods

Dear Dr. Kate,

For the past six months I've been having never-ending periods. They last almost the entire month, and I only have one or two days of no bleeding each month. My periods never came normally but the longest they used to last was like two weeks. What can I do to get my period normally, or to just last three to five days??

Tired of Going With The Flow

Dear TOGWTF,

It may be nothing, but your bleeding could be a sign of something more serious, and your doctor will likely want to rule out some or all of these conditions:
  • Hormonal problems. Thyroid disease and pituitary disease can cause dysfunctional bleeding. Your doctor can check for these with blood tests.
  • Structural problems. You can think of these as unwanted house guests in your uterus. Polyps and fibroids can both cause prolonged bleeding, and can usually be detected with an ultrasound.
  • Blood clotting problems. Especially if you're young, prolonged bleeding can be a sign of clotting problems. Your gyno may do some blood tests or send you to a hematologist (a blood disorder specialist).
  • Hyperplasia. This is a precancerous condition in your uterus. Depending on your age and other risk factors for cancer, your gyno may want to do a small biopsy of the lining of your uterus.
If the tests all come back negative, then the bleeding is probably ovarian dysfunction, and can be regulated with hormonal birth control. The pill, the patch, the ring, or the hormonal IUD can all make your periods shorter, lighter, and (thank heaven) predictable.

Have you ever had out-of-control periods?

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