What is Polymenorrhea? - Definition

Image source/Getty images

Definition: Polymenorrhea is a term used to describe a menstrual cycle abnormality.

A normal menstrual cycle is  21 to 35 days long. Day 1 of the menstrual cycle occurs the first day you experience any amount of bleeding. The last day of your menstrual cycle is the day before you have your next period. The average duration of your menstruation, which is only a part of your menstrual cycle, is about 5 days.

Polymenorrhea occurs when the menstrual cycle is less than 21 days long. This is the same thing as saying your period comes every 21 days.

Historically, abnormal menstrual cycles were classified by this type of descriptive terminology:

polymenorrhea-more frequent periods or shorter cycle length

oligomenorrhea - less frequent periods or longer cycle length

menorrhagia- heavier than normal menstrual flow

metrorrhagia-irregular bleeding between periods

Clinically it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish polymenorrhea from metrorrhagia. However, bleeding that occurs at regular intervals less than 21 days apart is usually polymenorrhea

Currently, these descriptive terms are now being replaced with the single term abnormal uterine bleeding. Abnormal uterine bleeding can be heavy menstrual bleeding or intermenstrual bleeding or bleeding between your periods. The causes of  abnormal uterine bleeding can be due to structural problems such as uterine polyps or fibroids.

Or the abnormal bleeding can be due to non structural causes such as ovulation problems or blood clotting disorders.

In general, shorter menstrual cycles or periods that are closer together (polymenorrhea) are a result of non-structural causes typically changes in ovulation. For some women, this can be a normal menstrual interval.

As long as your menstrual bleeding occurs at regular intervals and the amount of bleeding  is not too heavy there usually is no treatment indicated for shorter menstrual cycles.

You may consider using a combined hormonal contraceptive to extend your cycle interval. You may chose a contraceptive method that results in little to no menstrual flow such as  Mirena ,Depo-Provera or Nexplanon. This cycle control or reduction may be more convenient and less bothersome than getting your period every 3 weeks. However, it is important to remember that treatment may not be necessary for more frequent periods with normal volume menstrual flow.

As always, it is important to discuss any concerns about your menstrual cycle with your healthcare provider

Updated by Andrea Chisholm MD

Also Known As: frequent periods, frequent menstruation, frequent vaginal bleeding

Continue Reading