Abnormal Bleeding

This post was written by Sarah Cox, a third year medical student at UTHSCSA who is studying to become an OBGYN. 

You may be experiencing abnormal bleeding that can indicate the need for a doctor’s visit. If any of these symptoms apply to you—don’t worry! These symptoms are not official diagnoses that indicate something is definitely wrong; rather, they are helpful guidelines that can help menstruators know when to go have a checkup. 

There are two types of abnormal bleeding, irregular bleeding and heavy bleeding. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it may be time to schedule an appointment with a doctor. 

Irregular Bleeding: 

  • Bleeding longer than 8 days or occurring every 3 weeks or less. 
  • Having a period more often than every 21 days or less often then every 45 days
  • Having bleeding in between a period (called “breakthrough bleeding”)
  • If you haven’t had a period in more than 3 months (if you were having regular periods before) or more than 6 months (if you were having irregular periods before)
  • If you think you could be pregnant

Heavy Bleeding: 

  • If your bleeding is heavy enough that it is interfering with your normal daily activities (such as going to school or work, getting sleep, social activities, or sports)
  • Blood clots that are larger than 1 inch in diameter (about the size of a quarter)
  • Bleeding through clothes
  • Needing to change a saturated pad or tampon during the night
  • If you need to use both a pad and a tampon because you are bleeding so much
  • Signs of low iron (anemia), including feeling very weak, tired, and feeling short of breath when you exercise

NOTE: If you are soaking through a pad or tampon in an hour or less, and/or having very heavy bleeding in which you feel lightheaded, you should go to the emergency room to get evaluated and treated. 

Want to learn to better care for your period? Order our period kit for new menstruators! 

Is your bleeding within the normal range but you are experiencing painful periods? Read more here

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