The Real Reason Your Period Is Longer Than Usual

Having an extra-long period can be inconvenient, to say the least. The typical four to five days of menstrual bleeding are more than enough for most people. Longer than a week? Forget about it. Actually, don't. Having a long period may or may not be cause for concern, but how do you know which is the case for you? It really depends on you and your typical cycle. If your periods are typically four days long, having a week-long period would be more alarming to you than someone who experiences six-day periods.

On the other hand, just because something may be typical for your cycle doesn't necessarily mean it is healthy. If your periods typically last longer than seven days, that warrants a discussion with your doctor. It is called menorrhagia and, according to the CDC, it can not only disrupt your lifestyle, but it can lead to anemia and other health problems.

While the cause of this condition is unknown in roughly half of cases, potential causes of menorrhagia range from intrauterine devices (IUDs) to fibroids to hormone-related disorders. Menorrhagia can also be caused by physical diseases affecting the kidneys, liver, or kidneys. A more extreme possibility is cancer; while this is unlikely, it never hurts to get feedback from your doctor, just in case. The CDC also suggests getting tested for bleeding disorders, especially if other symptoms are present. Now, what if your periods typically last seven days or less, but this cycle is different?

There are many possible reasons for a longer-than-normal period

Is this your first period after using emergency contraception or having an abortion? If so, it is normal for your period to last longer. Certain medications such as aspirin or antidepressants can also prolong your period. If you have recently started using a hormonal birth control method, such as an IUD, that could also be the culprit. Another possibility is that your ovulation was delayed during this cycle, which may be caused by stress (per Healthline). As Flo detailed, longer periods may even occur during perimenopause.

According to Healthline, more concerning possibilities behind a prolonged period include thyroid disorders, cancers, bleeding disorders, or reproductive disorders (such as endometriosis, PCOS, or fibroids). These conditions are often accompanied by other symptoms which, depending on the condition, may include chills, digestive or weight issues, excessive body hair, or severe cramps.

It is also possible that what seems like a period is actually a miscarriage. Miscarriage is more common than you would think; according to WebMD, up to half of pregnancies result in miscarriage, and often before pregnancy is even detected. Additional signs of a miscarriage include fever, severe pain, mucus, and large clots. If you experience any of those symptoms, contact your doctor.

All in all, there are many possible reasons behind prolonged periods. It could be something serious — but more likely, it could just be from stress. It is always safest to call a doctor, especially if you are having other symptoms. Otherwise, keep track of your cycles for the next few months, and contact your doctor if symptoms persist.