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Women's Health

Menstrual cycle

02/28/2006

Question:

My menstrual cycle is extended for 35 days. Before my most recent cycle I didn't have one for 3 months. I have had problems of missing a cycle and then having one which lasts for 10 to 12 days. Do you think this is something serious? Do I have to get help immediately? Please advise.

Answer:

There are many reasons for a woman's menstrual cycle to be irregular.  At extremes of reproductive age (meaning just after puberty or just before menopause) it may even be normal.  Not knowing anything else about your age or medical history, it is hard for me to comment on the most likely cause.

The most likely situations that would cause a 3 month lapse in periods followed by extended bleeding would either be a pregnancy complication (so you may want to check that you're not pregnant) or what is called anovulatory bleeding.  This means that your ovary did not release an egg at the appropriate time in your monthly cycle, so the hormones that control bleeding are deranged.  This can result from many different issues including weight, stress, other medical problems or chronic hormonal imbalance. 

Other possible causes of prolonged bleeding include abnormal growths within the uterus.  Most are benign, such as fibroids, polyps, and hyperplasia (excessive glandular growth), but uterine cancer is also a possibility. 

Because of the wide range of possible problems and treatments, it is best that you see a health care provider to perform an exam and rule out a serious cause.

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Response by:

Jonathan  A Schaffir, MD Jonathan A Schaffir, MD
Clnical Associate Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University