Is Having Long Menstrual Bleeding a Cause of Concern?

The menstrual cycle is a series of physical and hormonal changes that occur in a woman’s body every month. It is controlled by the interaction of hormones produced by the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and ovaries. The cycle is divided into several stages, including the menstrual, follicular, ovulatory, and luteal phases.

During menstrual bleeding, the body sheds the inner lining of the uterus, which is composed of blood and tissue. This shedding is caused by a decrease in the hormones such as estrogen and progesterone, which signals the uterus to shed its lining.

Menstrual bleeding can be accompanied by cramping, bloating, and other physical and emotional symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, and mood swings. These symptoms are due to a hormone known as prostaglandin that causes contractions in the uterus. The more prostaglandins that are produced, the stronger the contractions and the more severe the cramps.

It is important to note that menstrual bleeding can be affected by a variety of factors, including stress, changes in weight, and certain medications. Sometimes lifestyle can also be a potential factor leading to heavy bleeding during menstruation.

Why Heavy or Prolonged Bleeding is a Cause of Concern?

Heavy menstrual bleeding, also known as menorrhagia, is a cause for concern because it can lead to a number of health problems and have a significant impact on a woman's quality of life.

There are several potential causes of heavy menstrual bleeding, including hormonal imbalances, uterine fibroids, endometrial hyperplasia, and certain medications, such as blood thinners. In some cases, heavy bleeding may also be a symptom of a more serious underlying condition, such as endometrial cancer.

Some of the causes of concern are explained here −

  • Heavy bleeding can lead to a loss of iron in the body, which results in anaemia (a condition characterized by low levels of iron in the blood). Anaemia can cause fatigue, weakness, and other symptoms.

  • Heavy bleeding can cause women to feel self-conscious and embarrassed, which can negatively impact their mental health and well-being.

  • Heavy bleeding can increase the risk of infection in the reproductive tract, especially if women are using tampons for an extended period of time.

  • Abnormal menstrual bleeding can also be caused by certain medications, such as birth control pills, blood thinners, and hormone replacement therapy. If you experience abnormal bleeding while taking any of these medications, it's important to speak with your healthcare provider.

  • If you experience severe pain, fever, or weakness during menstrual bleeding, it may be a sign of a serious condition such as pelvic inflammatory disease or sepsis, and immediate medical attention is required.

Lifestyle Impact on Menstruation

The lifestyle a person leads also impacts their health and well-being. It has an influence on a woman’s menstrual cycle too -

  • Diet − A diet that is low in iron or other nutrients such as vitamin C, and vitamin K, can lead to heavy bleeding.

  • Obesity − Being overweight increases the risk of heavy bleeding.

  • Smoking − It can cause changes in the blood vessels that can lead to heavy bleeding and also causes hormonal imbalances which affect menstrual bleeding.

  • Alcohol − Consuming alcohol in large amounts affects the body in many different ways including changes in menstruation.

  • Lack of exercise − A sedentary lifestyle that is spending much of the time sitting and leading to an inactive state with little physical exercise.

  • Stress − It can have a significant impact on menstrual bleeding and can make heavy bleeding worse.

If you experience abnormal menstrual bleeding or have other concerns about your menstrual cycle, it's important to speak to your doctor.

Role of Estrogen

Estrogen is a hormone that plays an important role in regulating the menstrual cycle. It is responsible for thickening the lining of the uterus (endometrium) in preparation for a potential pregnancy. If pregnancy does not occur, the endometrium is shed as menstrual bleeding.

In some cases, an imbalance in estrogen levels can contribute to heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding. Estrogen helps to regulate the growth and thickness of the endometrium, so if there is too little estrogen, the endometrium may not grow enough to properly support a pregnancy. As a result, the endometrium may break down and shed too early, leading to heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding.

On the other hand, an excess of estrogen can also lead to heavy menstrual bleeding by causing the endometrium to grow too thick. This can make it more difficult for the blood to leave the uterus, leading to heavy bleeding.

An excess of estrogen can also cause the development of uterine fibroids, which can cause heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding. In either case, treatment for heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding due to an imbalance in estrogen levels may include medications, such as hormonal birth control, that regulate the levels of estrogen and other hormones in the body. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove uterine fibroids or other structural abnormalities that are contributing to heavy bleeding.


Menstrual bleeding, also known as menstruation or a period, is the shedding of the uterine lining marking a cycle of the female reproductive system. Menstrual bleeding typically occurs once a month and is a sign that a woman's body is capable of pregnancy. The duration of the menstrual bleeding ranges from 2 to 7 days, with the average being around 5 days. The amount of bleeding can also vary, with some women experiencing light spotting and others experiencing heavy bleeding. The color of the blood varies between bright red, and brown mostly.

Updated on: 10-Mar-2023


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