Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

The Basics of Menstrual Disorders

        Health | Menstrual Disorders

The Basics of Menstrual Disorders <i>(cont'd)</i>

Irregular periods can be common at various stages of your life — during your teen years when you first begin to menstruate, and as you near menopause, around the age of 50, for example. In the three to five years just prior to menopause, your periods may suddenly become lighter or heavier because you are ovulating less often. If you are past menopause and you aren't taking any hormones, any uterine bleeding you experience is considered abnormal and should be evaluated immediately by a health care professional.

The best way to determine if your periods are normal is to determine how predictable the time between your periods is. A woman having periods every 21 to 35 days lasting three to four days does not have AUB. A woman having periods every 21 to 35 days lasting three days some months and 10 days other months is likely not to be ovulating regularly and may have AUB.

Types of AUB

There are three types of abnormal uterine bleeding: dysfunctional, structural and bleeding secondary to underlying disorders, such as von Willebrand's disease and hemophilia, for example.

Dysfunctional uterine bleeding can be caused by hormonal imbalances. As many as 75 percent of women with excessive menstrual bleeding have a hormone-related disorder that is responsible for their AUB condition. Hormonal imbalances occur when your body produces too much or not enough of certain hormones. These imbalances also be associated with:

  • weight loss or gain
  • a heavy exercise regimen
  • stress
  • illness
  • use of some medications

More to Explore