What Causes Prolonged Menstrual Bleeding and What to do About it?

Prolonged menstrual bleeding may not be a cause of worry if it happens once in a while.

Hormonal changes in women can fluctuate the bleeding period and cause occasional prolonged bleeding. However, if the bleeding lasts for more than 3 or 4 cycles, there is definitely an underlying problem triggering it. Let’s look at the causes of abnormal bleeding cycles and what you can do to combat them.

What exactly is prolonged menstrual bleeding?

Prolonged menstrual bleeding refers to the abnormal bleeding that lasts for more than 7 days. In general, women get periods that last between 3-7 days. In some cases, the bleeding can last up to 5 weeks. The timing and the bleeding can vary from woman to woman. In most cases, prolonged menstrual bleeding does not translate into a bigger problem and most of the causes mentioned below can be easily eradicated through proper medical care.

Underlying conditions that may cause prolonged menstrual bleeding

An underlying blood disorder

Hematologic blood disease in one the rarest causes of prolonged periods. The blood disease can be genetic so if you have it, then it could interfere with your monthly cycles.


In younger women, intrauterine devices commonly referred to as IUD’s, are placed within the cervix. These devices come in two main forms: hormonal and non-hormonal. Both can cause prolonged bleeding. If you use any of the two devices and experience prolonged bleeding, then it is time check with your gynecologist.

Thyroid problem

Hypothyroidism is another cause of prolonged menstrual bleeding in younger women. Research shows that at least one in eight women is likely to suffer from a low thyroid function at some point in her life. Inadequate amount of thyroid hormone can cause lengthy periods. So, if nothing else seems be the cause, get a thyroid test to check the hormone levels.


Polycystic ovary syndrome is a commonly occurring menstrual problem that affects more than 10% of women in their childbearing age. PCOS can disrupt the hormonal balance and cause several health conditions including weight gain and prolonged periods.

Fibroids or Uterine polyps

Uterine polyps and fibroids directly impact the endometrial cavity which results in prolonged bleeding. It may sound scary and serious, but both conditions are more common than you can imagine. Your gynecologist will conduct a quick ultrasound to see if polyps are causing the bleeding, and prescribe a treatment accordingly.

Cervical cancer

Prolonged periods could also be caused due to undiagnosed cervical cancer. This is an extremely rare case but it is better to be safe than sorry.


If you are at a certain age, then prolonged bleeding could just mean that your body is gearing up for menopause. Nothing to worry about in this case but check with your gynecologist to make sure that the bleeding in only menopausal.

Certain Medication

Birth control pills and certain other medications can also cause the hormones to disrupt leading to menstrual problems. See your gynecologist if the bleeding persists even after you discontinue the medication.

Final thoughts

The best way to ensure menstrual health is consistent self-examination. Monitor your monthly cycles and note the variations. If you notice anything that does not seem usual, book an appointment with your gynecologist. Women’s reproductive health is a sensitive issue and therefore should not be taken lightly. Early diagnosis can detect serious problems like cervical cancer and help you fight the disease better.

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