Menstruation, also known as a period, is part of a woman’s monthly cycle. It is normal vaginal bleeding that occurs when the uterus sheds its lining when pregnancy does not occur. For most women, this cycle begins between the ages of 11 and 14 and continues until menopause. The average age for menopause is 51. Normal menses can last between 2-7 days and can range between 21-34 apart, often occurring on average every 28 days.
- Vaginal bleeding
- Abdominal cramping
- Lower back pain
- Mood swings
- Sore breasts
Many women have irregular periods or abnormal bleeding, which may indicate an underlying condition. Some of the above symptoms may also be severe enough to interfere with daily activities. When a girl first starts her menstrual cycle, it may be irregular as her ovaries begin producing estrogen. If she does not get her period by the time she is 15, or if any of the above symptoms interfere with her life, then she should see a physician.
There are many conditions that may cause heavy bleeding, missed periods, or other abnormalities, including hormone imbalances, endometriosis, ovarian dysfunction, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), polyps, uterine fibroids, genetic disorders, medications, and other diseases.
If you are experiencing abnormal periods or severe symptoms during your period, call your physician. You and your physician will work together to address the cause of the condition, and treatment may vary from using birth control to having surgery.