Menstrual Cycles: “Is my bleeding normal?”

The clinical definition of a normal menstrual cycle by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is a cycle that is consistently 24 to 38 days apart (this is known as the “menstrual cycle”) with bleeding that lasts up to 8 consecutive days (ACOG, 2018). Abnormal menstrual bleeding is any type of bleeding that may significantly alter a woman’s quality of life including: excessive or heavy bleeding (changing a pad or tampon in less than a hour on multiple occasions), bleeding between cycles, cycles that are less than 24 or longer than 38 days, bleeding that lasts longer than 8 days, or any vaginal bleeding after meeting the clinical definition for menopause. Any change in vaginal bleeding needs to be discussed with your clinical provider. They will work with you to decide if the bleeding change is due to hormones, structural concerns, or malignant cells. Sometimes changes in a bleeding pattern are due to hormones and may be associated with puberty or perimenopause. Structural changes that can alter menstrual bleeding include a uterine polyp, fibroid, or thickening of the uterine lining. It is important to let your provider know if you are experiencing any change to your menstrual bleeding. It is often encouraged to keep a menstrual diary to discuss your typical cycles with your provider at your annual examination to screen for any concerns. If a concern is identified, most women will be asked to return for a follow-up visit. A visit for abnormal bleeding varies depending on the patient’s age and symptoms; however, the visit typically involves lab work, an ultrasound, and an endometrial biopsy if appropriate.

Abnormal Uterine Bleeding [Web article]. (2017, March). Retrieved from https://www.acog.org/ Patients/FAQs/Abnormal- Uterine-Bleeding?IsMobileSet= false#what. Retrieved December 24, 2018, from www.acog.org.

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