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What the Yuck: Aunt Flo stays too long
October 28th, 2011
04:19 PM ET

What the Yuck: Aunt Flo stays too long

Too embarrassed to ask your doctor about sex, body quirks, or the latest celeb health fad? In a regular feature and a new book, "What the Yuck?!," Health magazine medical editor Dr. Roshini Raj tackles your most personal and provocative questions. Send 'em to Dr. Raj at whattheyuck@health.com.

Q: My periods often go on forever - up to nine days! Is something wrong?

A: When it comes to periods, every woman’s different; what’s normal for you may be abnormal for your best friend.

The average flow lasts four to seven days, but if you have a month where you’re in period mode for longer, there’s probably no need to worry - stress, illness, and weight loss can all throw your cycle off.

But if your endless periods continue for more than one month, play it safe and ask your gynecologist to rule out other possible causes like hormonal changes, polycystic ovary syndrome or fibroids.

She may check you for anemia, too, especially if your flow is so heavy that you have to change your pad or tampon every hour, several hours in a row.

Depending on the cause of the bleeding, your doctor may prescribe birth control pills or a progestin-releasing intrauterine device to correct hormonal imbalances and lighten your monthly bloodshed.

Copyright Health Magazine 2011


soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Xondra

    wow, so informative

    October 28, 2011 at 21:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • veronica

      ha. seriously.

      October 29, 2011 at 22:28 | Report abuse |
  2. bergrg

    Yeah... stay away from the pills. My gyno prescribed me 3 different kinds and they all turned me into a depressed, bawling terror with chest and leg pains - and I am perfectly healthy and not fat. I quit the pill and I am sure that my problem is too much estrogen.

    October 28, 2011 at 23:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • YNot

      Isn't there any way to test that? Seems you could find the real answer rather than just guessing.

      October 29, 2011 at 13:02 | Report abuse |
    • Lori

      I've done great on the Pill, so what works for one person may not work for another. While my bleeding was heavy, the worst part was having cramps so bad that I actually vomited. A friend of mine has a 13 year old daughter who is already having serious problems and has passed out from blood loss! So if you are having super heavy periods and terrible cramps, then ask your doctor about it, don't just rely on what the average person with no medical training has to say.

      October 30, 2011 at 10:59 | Report abuse |
    • constant vigilance

      I tried two kinds of pills (progestin only and mixed progestin and estradiol) two years apart and they made me bleed constantly and experience the mixed state from hell. Those each lasted 5 weeks until I got rid of the pills. If you're manic depressive and thinking of using oral contraceptives, be very careful. The contraceptive function certainly worked as I was in no mood to shag anyone!

      October 31, 2011 at 18:39 | Report abuse |
  3. I once read...

    I once read that in many woman who diagnosed with premature menopause a common thing was heavy periods. I always had heavy menstrual periods n was diagnosed with premature menopause at 32. Even at 27 I was complaining to my doctors I was experiencing hot flashes. Their answear...you r too young for menopause. Today, I am the happy mother of two adopted biological brother and sister. If you want to have a family later on in life and u feel any discomfort in ur reproductive system go to the doctor and get yourself checked.

    October 29, 2011 at 13:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Chartreuxe

    Yes, I heard the same symptoms: heavy prolonged bleeding, extremely painful cramps and early menopause symptoms. As it turns out I had PCOS (Polycycstic Ovarian Syndrome). Unfortunately no doctor diagnosed it until it nearly killed me.

    If something's not right with your body, don't give up until you find a doctor who listens to you. Find another one if the one you have blows off your problems. When I was having cramps, some doctors said (this is true) 'there's no such thing as menstrual cramps.' Since they were primarily men, what the devil did they know?

    October 30, 2011 at 15:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Ha, Char. One of my MDs said that if men had cramps, there'd have been an effective treatment ages ago.

      My wonderful OBGYN (who actually was a man) figured out that I had a "tipped" uterus and that it was the factor that caused my cramps to be so debilitating.

      October 30, 2011 at 21:31 | Report abuse |
    • Michelle

      Pardon me for asking, but how did PCOS "nearly kill you"? I've got PCOS, and the condition is NOT deadly. It can be uncomfortable. It can make it difficult to lose weight. It can make it difficult to get pregnant if you want kids. It can make you more likely to be insulin resistant... but it CAN'T KILL YOU. Methinks you doth protest too much.

      I understand that maybe it hurt a lot. I've had some really painful problems with mine, including cysts rupturing and causing me to go into shock in public because the pain was so bad. My monthly bleeding was excessive because I had fibroids too, and I finally had a hysterectomy. Best decision ever. But still... no, PCOS alone can't "almost kill you." Seriously. Melodrama much?

      November 14, 2011 at 21:23 | Report abuse |
  5. Diane

    Heavy periods can also be caused by hypothyroid. I was having heavy, clumpy periods prior to diagnosis. Now, after a year on replacement thyroid hormone (slowly raising dosage every 3 months) and now finally at "normal" levels, my periods are getting back to normal again. Of course, pre-menopause symptoms are starting as well so that doesn't help, but I don't have the severe cramps or the heavy, clumpy flow any longer.

    October 30, 2011 at 16:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. BTDT

    I spent a few years on the pills until my blood pressure went crazy and I developed leg pains. Then my OB/GYN performed endometrial ablation. Resumed normal activities in just a day and full recovery (no more oozing) in just a couple weeks and I haven't had a period since. One year of total happiness and counting!

    October 31, 2011 at 03:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. nancy

    I found out I was very anemic after going to donate blood was I was in my mid 30's. I've always suffered from extremely heavy periods. I've had a Mirena IUD for 8 years, and it's given me my life back. No more going through a heavy plus tampon in 10-15 minutes. No more setting my alarm clock for every 2 hours at night during my period to change supplies. No more staying home for 2 days a month. I'm a happy camper. 🙂

    November 17, 2011 at 00:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. cheryl

    endo was the culprit for me. i had heavy periods (couldn't sleep through the night the first days b/c needed to change....) and cramping that got worse every year until i finally spoke up. the traditional use pill significantly reduced the bleeding but only the continuous use (PLENTY of studies approve) made me functional month-long...still some issues, but not the cry-in-bed and spend insane amounts in the hygine aisle level

    November 23, 2011 at 18:20 | Report abuse | Reply

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.