All about each symptom of menopause
women going through menopause

Prolonged and Continuous Periods

The duration of menstrual periods varies from woman to woman. Menstrual cycles typically last between 21 and 35 days, with three to seven days of bleeding. However, if bleeding lasts for over seven days, or if there is minor spotting throughout the month, this is considered an abnormal prolonged or continuous period. Excessively prolonged menstrual bleeding is always worthy of attention.

If bleeding lasts for over 7 days, it is considered an abnormally prolonged period.

What Causes Prolonged and Continuous Period?

Prior to menopause, the most common cause of extended bleeding is hormonal imbalances. Estrogen and progesterone are the main female sex hormones, and they regulate the menstrual cycle. However, if levels of these hormones become unbalanced - in particular, if there is excess progesterone - then prolonged and continuous periods may occur. There are a number of other factors that could cause prolonged periods, or that may worsen then underlying imbalance. These include:

  • Stress
  • Starting or stopping birth control
  • Getting a new intrauterine device (IUD)
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
  • Uterine or cervical polyps
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

In some extremely rare cases, prolonged or continuous bleeding can also be a symptom of a more complex disorder, such as an underactive thyroid, lupus, cervical cancer, or an injury in the vaginal area. If you are experiencing excessive and continuous bleeding, or if it's accompanied by abdominal pain, talk to a physician.

Treatment for Prolonged and Continuous Periods

Most cases of continuous periods are due to hormonal fluctuations, which can be addressed in several ways. Listed here are some ideas to get you started.

Coping with prolonged and continuous periods

Certain lifestyle adjustments may not regulate hormones back to their correct levels, but they can provide a great deal of relief and minimize disruption to daily activities, as well as help prevent complications.

  • An emergency sanitary stash. Keeping a reserve of sanitary napkins and tampons in strategic places - like the office drawer, the car, and your purse - will make any emergencies much easier to deal with.

  • Exercise. Exercise is essential to lower stress levels, and may help regulate hormone levels. Cycling or power walking are gentle enough to do even during your period, but will get your legs moving and help relieve cramps. If you want something more stationary, a routine with small free weights can also be helpful.

  • Eat more leafy greens. Prolonged bleeding can take a toll on your body as it struggles to replenish the lost iron and calcium. It's important to eat plenty of collard greens, Swiss chard, or chickpeas, as they are a low-calorie way to prevent anemia.

Alternative treatments

Some alternative treatments contain plant estrogens to help raise estrogen levels; most notable among these are soy, dong quai, or Vitex chasteberry. In addition, other herbal remedies can help relieve associated menstrual cramping (like raspberry leaf) or fatigue (like ginseng).

Medications and surgery

Women with more severe cases of prolonged and continuous periods may want to consider pharmaceutical options. In cases of hormonal imbalance, most doctors prescribe oral contraception or any hormonal therapy to regulate the menstrual cycle and balance your hormone levels. Other medications and even surgical options are available for women with more serious conditions, although this requires a physician's guidance.

Don't let prolonged and continuous menstrual bleeding keep you from staying healthy and positive. Armed with the information and suggestions above, you could soon be on your way to a regular, worry-free cycles. Click on the following link for more information about the treatments of irregular periods.

Uncommon Symptoms of Irregular Periods

Read on to learn how to recognize when irregular periods may be cause for concern.

5 Keys to Keep a Regular Menstrual Cycle

Keep reading to find tips on how to keep a regular menstrual cycle.

5 of the Best Home Remedies for Irregular Periods

If you're finding irregular periods difficult to handle, read on to uncover simple and effective techniques for managing menstrual irregularities.

  • Hutchinson, Susan M.D. "The Stages of a Woman's Life: Menstruation, Pregnancy, Nursing, Perimenopause, Menopause". November 2007.
  • Love, Susan M.D. Menopause and Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003.
  • BMJ Group. "Menopause: What is it?" Patient Leaflet. 2007