Menstruation is the regular cycle of monthly bleeding that females experience from puberty through menopause. Regular periods are consistent with regard to cycle length, duration of flow, and amount of bleeding.
Dysfunctional uterine bleeding is characterized by cycles that are longer than 42 days or shorter than 21 days, with bleeding that lasts longer than seven days. This is typically characterized as a heavy flow that soaks a sanitary napkin in one hour and is accompanied by the passage of large clots. If you experience this type of bleeding, seek medical attention. Your medical provider may want to obtain blood tests, including a pregnancy test, as well as an ultrasound of the reproductive organs. The goal of treatment, whether observation, medications, or surgery, is to help minimize symptoms associated with heavy bleeding, including anemia, and to improve your quality of life.