For most women, it goes on for 3 to 5 days. If that’s not you, don’t worry. One can last as few as 2 days or as many as 7. If you’re bleeding more than 7 days in a row, talk to your doctor.

Long periods can be the result of a variety of factors such as health conditions, age, and lifestyle. Underlying health conditions that can cause long periods to include uterine fibroids, endometrial (uterine) polyps, adenomyosis, or more rarely, a precancerous or cancerous lesion of the uterus. A long period can also result from hormonal imbalances (like hypothyroidism) or a bleeding disorder.

Unusually heavy periods (requiring multiple pad or tampon changes a day) or infrequent periods (occurring less than every 5 weeks) should be evaluated. A change in cycle characteristics (such as a noticeable difference in frequency, heaviness, or spotting between periods) is also a reason to seek medical care.

The first step to managing long periods due to a specific condition is to treat it. This can include things like removing an endometrial polyp or correcting hypothyroidism. Hormonal contraceptives (things like the pill, the patch, or a hormonal IUD) are commonly used to help regulate abnormal cycles resulting from a wide variety of causes. Most of these methods take three to six months before you’ll notice some improvement.