How Long Should A Normal Period Be
When it comes to the frequency, length and flow of your monthly visitor, a general rule of thumb is that normal periods are defined as whats normal for you. But being knowledgeable about your menstrual cycle can help you identify when things go awry.
You get your period when your uterus sheds its lining also known as its endometrium. Part of your menstrual flow is blood and part of it is endometrium. Most women get their period about 12 to 16 days after ovulation.
The average menstrual cycle is 28 days. A normal period can last anywhere from two to seven days but is usually only three to five days.
How Might Your Doctor Diagnose A Long Period
Your doctor will ask how often you get your period, how many days it lasts, and do you have bleeding in between your period or after sex, says Jodie Horton, MD, an ob-gyn in Oakton, Virginia, and chief wellness advisor for Love Wellness. Other important clues to determine what is causing your abnormal uterine bleeding is how heavy your periods are, what medications youre taking, if youve been tested for sexually transmitted infections and are up to date on your Pap smears. So you’ll want to know that info before your visit.
Your doctor may perform a pelvic exam to evaluate the cervix and the size and regularity of the uterus, as well as a pelvic ultrasound or hysteroscopy to see inside your cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries for any abnormalities.
It sounds scary, but most causes of prolonged menstrual bleeding aren’t a big deal and can be fixed or improved with the help of your doctor, Dr. Toth notes. And you deserve to have a normal period that doesn’t totally suck.
Combined Hormonal Birth Control
Combined hormonal birth controlâlike the pill, the vaginal ring, or the patchârelease synthetic forms of estrogen and progesterone into your body . When taken as directed, the hormones in these types of birth control prevent your ovaries from preparing and releasing eggs . This stops your bodyâs usual hormonal cycling rhythm, allowing the birth control to regulate the growth and shedding of your uterine lining .
The bleeding you experience on combined hormonal birth control is not a real period. It is called withdrawal bleeding because it is caused by the withdrawal of hormones during the placebo pills or during the week you donât use your pills, patch, or ring.
Recommended Reading: How Many Days Between Each Period
What Is The Ovulatory Phase
The ovulatory phase lasts usually only one to two days. During this phase, the ovum is released from the mature follicle in a process called ovulation because of the increased presence of the hormone LH. Ovulation generally occurs in the 16 to 32 hours following follicle exposure to increased LH levels. The follicle ruptures and releases the ovum into the funnel-shaped end of the fallopian tube. The ovum then makes its way down the tube and into the uterus, hoping to get fertilized along the way.
Does The Length Of A Menstrual Cycle Matter
The length of a menstrual cycle is determined by the number of days from the first day of bleeding to the start of the next menses. The length of your cycle, while not on any form of birth control, can be a key indicator to hormonal imbalances and whether or not ovulation is occurring in a predictable manner. Hormonal imbalances can affect if and when ovulation occurs during your cycle. Without ovulation, pregnancy cannot occur.
Normal menstrual cycle:
Days: 24 to 35 daysOvulation Indicator: Regular cycles indicate that ovulation has occurredWhat Do Normal Cycles Tell Your Doctor?Cycles of a normal length suggest regular ovulation and that all of the sex hormones are balanced to support natural conception.
Short menstrual cycle:
Long or irregular menstrual cycle:
There are many causes of oligo-ovulation, the medical term used to describe when ovaries do not grow a dominant follicle and release a mature egg on a regular basis. Polycystic ovarian syndrome , the most common cause for oligo-ovulation, is a syndrome resulted from being born with too many eggs. This can result in an imbalance in the sex hormones, and failure to grow a dominant follicle and unpredictable or absent ovulation. In addition, irregularities with the thyroid gland or elevations of the hormone prolactin can disrupt the brains ability to communicate with the ovary and result in anovulation.
When menstrual bleeding lasts more than 5-7 days:
What if I never menstruate?
Also Check: Can You Get Your Period While Pregnant
Whats A Normal Menstrual Cycle
Your menstrual cycle lasts from the first day of your period to the first day of your next period. The average menstrual cycle is about 25-30 days, but it can be as short as 21 days or longer than 35 its different from person to person. The number of days in your cycle may also vary from month to month. When you get your period, its normal to bleed anywhere from 2 to 7 days.
The average person loses anywhere between 1-6 tablespoons of menstrual fluid during each period. It can be thin or clumpy, and varies in color from dark red to brown or pink. If your period is so heavy that you have to change maxi pads or super tampons every hour, call your doctor or your local Planned Parenthood health center.
Everyones body is different, so their periods are different too whats normal varies from person to person, and can change over your lifetime. Some birth control methods or health conditions may also affect your period.
The Source Of The Issue
Long periods can be the result of a variety of factors such as health conditions, your age and your lifestyle.
Underlying health conditions that can cause long periods include uterine fibroids, endometrial polyps, adenomyosis, or more rarely, a precancerous or cancerous lesion of the uterus. A long period can also result from hormonal imbalances or a bleeding disorder.
Many women struggle with long and heavy periods for years without knowing there are ways to manage and improve their symptoms. I encourage all patients to seek out medical care if they have questions about their menstrual cycle or other gynecologic issues.
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 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 youll notice some improvement.
Read Also: Why Do We Get Period Cramps
What Can Affect How Long Your Period Lasts
There are a number of different factors that affect your cycle. As you get older, for example, your period will get lighter and become more regular.
Using a new contraceptive, including birth control pills, vaginal rings, and IUDs, can make you irregular at first. Many birth control methods can cause long, symptomatic periods for the first one to three months after you start taking them, but these even out over time.
Other factors that can make you irregular, or cause changes to your menstrual cycle, include:
- extreme weight loss
- infections to the reproductive organs, like pelvic inflammatory disease
- conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome
- increased stress
Age Affects How Long A Period Lasts
It is natural for a womans cycle to shift as she ages. Heres a brief outline of what a woman may expect to happen at a certain age:
- Menarche: The time when a girl first starts menstruating is called menarche. In this stage, irregularity is most common. Typically, as girls age, their cycles become more consistent, but some degree of irregularity is always possible.
- Adult: How long does a period last? For adult women, its typically between 2 and 7 days. Most women will experience a heavier flow during the first couple of days.
- Menopause: The time in a womans life when she has gone 12 months without menstruation. In the years preceding menopause, a woman may experience some degree of irregularity again.
Read Also: How Do You Make Your Period Go Away Faster
Youre Experiencing An Ectopic Pregnancy
An unusually heavy period can be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy , says Dr. Horton. Taking a pregnancy test can help you figure out if that’s what’s going on.
If you have a positive pregnancy test and have pain and vaginal bleeding, you should be evaluated, she says. Your doctor will get blood work and a pelvic ultrasound to see where the pregnancy is located and, if it is ectopic, treat it with medicine or surgery. Unfortunately, it’s not safe for a mother to carry an ectopic pregnancy.
When To Get Checked Out
Normal cycles last between 24 to 35 days. Some teens might have shorter cycles of only 21 days, and others might go as long as 45 days between periods. Adults can have a range of between 21 to 35 days. See a doctor if your cycle falls outside of these ranges. Also, if youve been menstruating for more than two years and your period hasnt become regular, visit a healthcare provider.
Being sick or under stress can cause a delayed period or for you to skip it altogether. However, if you miss a period and are sexually active, definitely get checked out for a possible pregnancy. Also, visit a healthcare professional about your period if:
- You havent gotten your first period by age 15
- You dont menstruate for more than 90 days
- Your periods start to be very irregular after having previously been regular
- Your period lasts for more than seven days
Read Also: Which Doctor To Consult For Periods Problem
How Long Should A Period Be
Both short and long periods can be normal and whats normal for you may not be normal for someone else.
The average period length is two to seven days, Dr. Higgins says. Your period probably wont be exactly the same month after month, but you should see a pattern. The length of bleeding and flow should be consistent.
Small changes in period length are OK, but get any big changes checked out. A little variation, like from three days to four days, is normal, Dr. Higgins says, but you used to have three-day periods and now theyre six days, check in with your doctor.
What Qualifies As Heavy Bleeding
You know your body best. If bleeding is heavier than what you typically experience, seek medical health. More generically, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists define heavy bleeding as:
- Requiring more than one pad at a time
- Requiring pad changes during the night
- Menstruating blood clots that are larger than a quarter
- Bleeding for over 7 days.
- Soaking through one pad or tampon every hour repeatedly.
If one or more of the above symptoms is prompting you to ask, how long does a period last, please seek medical attention.
Also Check: How Do I Know When My Next Period Is
As You Wait For Your First Period You May Have Lots Of Questions About What Will Happen What Will It Feel Like What Do I Need To Do To Prepare How Do I Use A Tampon
Getting your first period is an important milestone in a young womans life. It signals the beginning of a long phase of life that you may be fertile. This means that if you have sexual contact, you might get pregnant. While you may have learned about menstruation in school, you probably have questions about what to expect. This section is designed to provide you with all the information you need as you approach getting your period for the first time.
Explore Your First Period:
What Does Normal Mean Anyway
When it comes to cycle length, thereâs some very specific terminology thatâs used by healthcare providers that can sound clinical and even scary in some circumstances. If youâre looking into cycle length variations, you may come across some terms like âabnormal uterine bleedingâ or âirregular cycles.â
Itâs important to know that every body has variations and even though the menstrual cycle occurs in a pattern, it wonât always be exactly the same each month. Changes in this pattern are not necessarily pathological and can be considered ânormal.â Healthcare providers use terms like âabnormal uterine bleedingâ and âirregularâ to describe variations from normal that extend beyond certain parameters . A variation that deviates far from the average might be normal for you with no pathological cause, while it might indicate a problem for someone else, and vice versa. The only way to know for sure is to see your healthcare provider if your cycles fall outside of ânormalâ to make sure thereâs no root cause.
Since the word ânormalâ can make people feel âabnormal,â and the meaning of ânormalâ varies over time and across different cultures, we choose to use other words like âtypicalâ and âcommonâ instead.
Just know that your provider may use more clinical terms like the ones we listed above.
Also Check: How To Calm Down Your Period Cramps
How To Tell If Your Period Is Irregular
Many women will experience irregular periods at some point in their lives. Its particularly common for young women to experience highly irregular periods including very long periods during their first few years of menstruation. Their periods will often shorten and stabilize between one and three years after menstruation begins.
Irregular periods include periods that are lighter, heavier, arrive unpredictably, or last longer or shorter than the average. According to the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, its estimated that between 14 to 25 percent of women have what are classified to be irregular cycles.
That being said, if your periods are less than 21 days apart or more than 35 days apart, there could be an underlying cause thats making you more irregular. If this is the case, make an appointment with your doctor.
Why Is My Menstrual Cycle So Long
Your menstrual cycle is considered long if it lasts more than 35 days. If you dont have a period for more than 90 days, you can be diagnosed with infrequent menstruation also called oligomenorrhea.
There are many factors that could cause a long menstrual cycle. Some of the most obvious include pregnancy and perimenopause . Here are a few more of the most common causes behind long menstrual cycles.
Also Check: I Know I Ovulated But My Period Is Late
If You Have A Shorter Cycle
Very short cycles can make it seem like youre getting two periods in a month, which is so, so fun. But what youre probably dealing with is one period plus spotting, which can have a bunch of possible causes. Behold:
- All things pregnancy-related. You might experience implantation bleeding in the very early days of being pregnant, before you even know theres a bun in the oven. Miscarriage which can also often happen before you have any idea youre pregnant can also cause spotting.
- Hormonal issues. Namely PCOS, which can cause bleeding between periods.
- Fibroids and cysts. Both types of growths are common, and usually harmless. But theyre notorious for causing heavy bleeding and spotting that might seem like a bonus period.
- Endometriosis. In addition to having normal period bleeding, women with endometriosis also have to deal with bleeding from cells and tissues outside of the uterus. And it can be heavy, irregular, and painful.
- STIs. Chlamydia and gonorrhea can both trigger heavy bleeding and bleeding in between periods. Talk about the gifts that keep on giving.
- Menopause, early or right on time. Again, HORMONES. Just like they can make your cycles longer, they can make them shorter or cause spotting.
- Polyps. Either in the uterus or on the cervix, these can also cause more bleeding.