Menstrual periods occur in all females from the onset of puberty (average age of onset 11 or 12 years) and last until menopause in middle age. They occur when the lining of the uterus is shed via vaginal bleeding due to the girl or woman not being pregnant.
The length of a menstrual period varies from two days to seven days, on average 28 days apart. However, this cycle can vary too and anything between 24 and 35 days is considered normal.
If you are having periods that are lasting two weeks or longer this is abnormal, unless you are approaching menopause (usually between the ages of 45-55). Extra-long periods can result from hormonal changes and in women of this age range can be taken as a sign of the impending "change".
Other causes of extra-long periods include:
• Having uterine fibroids
• Having polyps in the uterus
• Having endometriosis (a disease where the lining of the uterus grows in other parts of the body)
• Having pelvic inflammatory disease
• Having a temporary hormonal imbalance, for instance, when changing hormonal contraception
• The copper IUD can also make you have heavy periods
• If there is a chance you could have been pregnant, the two-week period may have in fact been a miscarriage. Please see your doctor if you think you could be pregnant
• A condition called dysfunctional uterine bleeding (DUB). Doctors don’t know what causes DUB and may diagnose you with it if they cannot find a cause for your bleeding.
If there is no obvious physical cause, particularly if you are middle-aged, the doctor may like to wait and see as some cases are down to menopause or a temporary hormonal imbalance that corrects itself without treatment.
A pelvic examination and ultrasound scan of the uterus will be carried out to see if there are any abnormalities and a biopsy of uterine tissue may be taken.
If there are fibroids, polyps or endometrial lining present where it shouldn’t be -- this can be surgically removed which should help regulate your periods.