There is a wide range of what’s considered to be a regular menstrual cycle. In general, a woman’s cycle lasts between 21-35 days. Bleeding typically lasts 4-8 days. Anything that is consistently shorter or longer than the 21-35-day range is a reason to see an OB-GYN for evaluation and treatment.
How much is too much?
Women typically lose up to 2 tablespoons of blood loss per menstrual cycle. Anything over 5 tablespoons is considered to be abnormally heavy bleeding. Abnormal bleeding can be challenging for a woman to measure. A good guideline to look at is how often a woman has to change a tampon or pad. Bleeding through a tampon every hour is considered to be heavy bleeding.
I thought everyone experienced pelvic pain?
Some pain and cramping during a woman’s period are reasonable. However, if over-the-counter pain relievers and home remedies such as heating pads are not working to relieve pain, a woman may want to see a physician. Severe pelvic pain between periods can indicate an underlying health condition. For example, endometriosis is the source of chronic pelvic pain for many women. A woman who suffers from pelvic pain may also have pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Both endometriosis and PID can lead to other health complications, such as infertility. This underscores that women should see a physician right away for diagnosis and treatment of severe pelvic pain.
Pain and bleeding with sex
Pelvic pain during sex is another sign that something is wrong. Often, pain during sex is a key sign of endometriosis. Additionally, bleeding after sex affects 9% of women and is most commonly caused by cervical inflammation or cervical polyps. These conditions can develop into more severe health problems if left untreated.
When to consult a healthcare provider
Abnormal bleeding and pelvic pain can occur for a variety of reasons. Women should speak with a physician to rule out underlying conditions and find treatment options. Seeking treatment early is key to decreasing pain and living a healthy life.