Menstruation With Extended and Excessive Bleeding
Q: I am 14 years old and my periods last 2 weeks. I have had my periods since 12 months. Is this normal? They also get heavy in the second week.
– By Laura brown
No, this is not normal. Your periods are very prolonged and heavy for your age.
Such a condition is medically called menorrhagia.
What is Menorrhagia?
Heavy bleeding is called menorrhagia. It may be a prolonged bleeding that continues beyond 7 days. Or it may be heavy bleeding requiring more that ten pads a day.
Heavy bleeding definitely needs to be corrected. It may make you anemic (weak), as a lot of blood is lost every month.
Also, such a bleed is a symptom caused by some underlying problem which needs to be detected before it leads to other disturbing problems.
Causes of Prolonged Menses
In young girls, the commonest reason of prolonged periods is any hormonal disturbance.
The female reproductive cycle is mainly controlled by two hormones- estrogen and progesterone.
Estrogen is the first to be secreted during a monthly cycle. It leads to thickening of the uterine endometrium (inner lining), preparing for implantation of the fertilized egg.
After ovulation, progesterone levels rise.
Any imbalance in this process would lead to bleeding disturbances.
Like, if progesterone is not produced in sufficient amounts, estrogen levels stay high leading to prolonged bleeding. This situation is also called dysfunctional uterine bleeding, or DUB.
This may be due to many medical conditions. They include:
- Dysfunction of the ovaries- Sometimes ovulation does not occur. Consequently, progesterone is not produced.
- Thyroid problems
- Pituitary problems
Other Causes of Menorrhagia
Apart from hormonal factors, there can be other reasons of prolonged, heavy bleeds. They are:
- If you are taking any blood thinning medications like aspirin, the bleed will be long and heavy.
- Medications like steroids.
- Excessive use of anti inflammatory medication (such as aspirin)
- Blood disorders like von Willibrand’s disease, where some clotting factor is absent in the blood. So, any bleeding from the body does not arrest quickly.
- Lifestyle problems like stress or some abrupt change in diet.
- Any non-cancerous growth in the uterine cavity, like uterine polyp or fibroid. However, they are commoner in 20- 30’s.
Hormonal problems in teenage girls usually get corrected by themselves. However, if you feel it is not getting better, visit a gynecologist.
You require a thorough checkup and medical evaluation. The cause of your problem needs to be detected.
Your gynecologist may order some tests like:
- Blood tests- for thyroid, iron count, total blood count
- Pelvic ultrasound, to check any growth in the uterus.
If it’s a hormonal problem, hormonal medications may be required for some time. Iron supplements can be given to recover the loss due to heavy bleeding.
If there is some other problem, treatment would be accordingly. Most of the conditions leading to your symptom are treatable.