While many women approaching menopause think it will spell the end of their menstrual periods, the opposite actually might be true. According to researchers at the University of Michigan, most women experience an increase in both the amount and the duration of bleeding during the menopausal transition.

Providing the first long-term study of bleeding patterns in women of multiple ethnicities going through menopause, the investigators studied more than 1,300 women aged 42 years to 52 years for a decade. They discovered that the majority of women reported prolonged episodes of heavy bleeding and frequent spotting.

The research team found that it is not unusual for women to experience bleeding for 10 or more days, spotting for six or more days, and/or heavy bleeding for three or more days during the transition. In fact, 91% of the women in the study reported one to three occurrences of bleeding that lasted 10 or more days over a 3-year period. 

Nearly 88% reported 6 or more days of spotting, and almost 78% recorded 3 or more days of heavy flow. More than 25% of the women studied had as many as three episodes of 10 or more days of bleeding during a 6-month period.

“For most women in their 30s, menstrual periods are highly predictable. With the onset of the menopausal transition in their 40s, women’s menstrual periods can change dramatically.These dramatic changes can be disconcerting and often provoke questions about whether something is wrong,” commented Sioban Harlow, PhD, lead author of the study, which appears in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology./p>

The authors say more research is needed before the information regarding what constitutes “normal” in the menopausal transition should affect diagnostic or therapeutic interventions