Types of Abnormal Menstrual Bleeding

Irregular period

If you’re experiencing heavy menstrual bleeding, irregular periods, or unusual bleeding at times you don’t expect, it could be a signal of an underlying health condition. So is your unusual bleeding normal, what might be causing it and what should you do about it? Find out.

What causes abnormal menstrual bleeding?

There are many possible causes of heavy bleeding or irregular periods, so you’ll need a doctor’s help. Your doctor may start by checking for problems most common for your age. Some may not be serious and easy to treat. Others may be more serious. The most common causes are listed below:

  • Miscarriage
  • Use of certain IUDs
  • Fibroids
  • Problems with blood clotting
  • Polyps
  • Chronic medical conditions (for instance, thyroid problems)

Is heavy menstrual bleeding dangerous?

Heavy bleeding on its own can cause you to lose iron and make you anemic (weak and tired). Some of the causes of heavy bleeding aren’t very serious and, despite the inconvenience of managing your periods, don’t need treatment. Others are more serious and need prompt treatment. Very rarely, heavy bleeding is a medical emergency.

If you are experiencing heavy bleeding and are concerned, call your doctor or go to your local hospital’s emergency room right away. Keeping a diary of your periods, including the number of pad or tampon changes and when you have gushes, can help your doctor diagnose your specific problem.

Irregular periods

Many women experience irregular periods at some time in their lives. The exact causes of irregular periods can vary and are often quite normal. However, you’re the best judge of what is normal for you. If you suddenly have irregular periods, make sure you chart your symptoms and contact your doctor.

Unusual bleeding

Women may experience unusual or unexpected bleeding at some time in their lives. Just like heavy bleeding and irregular periods, you should talk to your doctor about your symptoms. It is common to have irregular periods sometimes. They may not occur on schedule in the first few years after you start to have them (around age 9-16). The cycle may get shorter near age 35. It often gets shorter as you near menopause (around age 50). It also is normal then to skip periods or for bleeding to get lighter or heavier. So be sure to talk to your doctor to get the information you need.

Disclaimer: advice on this website is general advice. Procter & Gamble is not responsible for the outcome should you choose to follow this advice.


  • ACOG Pamphlet 95 : Abnormal uterine bleeding