How Long Should My Period Last? That’s the question we’re going to answer, so keep on reading for all the details you need to know.
How Long is a Period: An Introduction
Let’s talk periods. We’ll start off this conversation by stating the most important thing:
Everyone is different! The “rules” we are giving you are not actually rules at all. They are just the average. People are different and so are their periods. What is healthy for you may not be healthy for someone else.
Your period might be a lot longer, it might be a lot shorter. You may have relatively few days between periods. Or, it might feel like you’re getting your period all the time.
One of Most Common Questions: How Long Does a Period Last?
That said, most woman have an average period of around 5 days. However, some can have shorter periods of 2-3 days, and some bleed for up to 7 days.
In general, you can expect the heaviest flow for the first 2 days, and then you may even have some light flow that resembles brown discharge towards the end.
How long does a period last? 2-7 days, but the average is 5 days.
What is abnormal? Less than 2, or longer than 7 generally considered to be outside the normal range. If you bleed for more than 7 days, check with your doctor. This isn’t really normal and you should work to find a solution.
Things that Influence Menstrual Flow
There are a number of factors that influence how long your period lasts:
If you take birth control, you’ll have a very regular cycle. There are various kinds and combination of estrogen and progesterone, but some of the most common ones include:
28-days cycle: 21 days on, 7 days off. You will menstruate during the 7 days “off.”
28-days cycle: 24 days on, 4 days off. You’ll bleed during the 4 days “off.”
In general, you’ll have shorter and lighter periods than previously when using oral contraceptives.
Some kinds of medication may stop your period for up to a year.
Speak with your doctor about how to choose the right one for your specific life situation. Each of them have their pros and cons.
Your First Cycles
Most young girls who are just getting their periods for the first year or two have very irregular cycles. It can be light one month, and heavier the next. One month it can last for a day or two, and the next one for more days.
The number of days between your periods varies as well. Expect the unexpected!
Age and Perimenopause
As you age, your cycles changes. When you’re approaching menopause, the few years before that of fluctuating hormones is officially known as perimenopause. You may experience weight gain, anxiety or depressions, headaches, etc. But almost everybody experiences irregular periods.
You flow may get lighter, or heavier. The average length between periods can change as well. In general, you’ll find that your periods get lighter, last fewer days are spaced further apart the closer you get to menopause.
The first few cycles after using one can cause your cycle to become irregular due to hormonal changes. It takes most women 1-3 months to get back to normal.
Having a Baby
Many women have a big gap between postpartum bleeding and their period resuming again due to fluctuating hormones (specifically progesterone and estrogen). Rest assured, it’s very normal for it take a while for things to get back to normal after having a baby and it’s not something to worry about.
There are a number of medical reasons why your period may be shorter, or longer than normal. Some of these things that may result in heavier bleeding include:
- Disorders or medications that cause the blood to be thinner
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
- Uterine cancer
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
- Polyps or fibroids (usually non-cancerous growths)
Some of the other factors that influence length of bleeding include: extreme dieting/weight loss, excessive exercise, infections, stress, changes in diet, cancer, a problem with your ovary/ovaries (lack of ovulation, or excessive ovulation), etc.
If your period not normal, or if you skip periods there are various treatment options. Please see your healthcare provider for diagnosis and information about treatment options available.
How Long Does a Period Last?
Let’s Talk Menstrual Cycle Phases
What are the menstrual cycle phases? We’ll give you a rundown of the phases of menstruation, but be aware, everyone is different.
A menstrual cycle is calculated from the first day of bleeding to the first day of bleeding the next month. The average length is around 28 days, but it can vary from 21-35 days.
Month to month, the menstrual cycle timing may also vary. This is especially true for teens and women in perimenopause.
Here’s some information about how the menstrual cycle phases work:
Days 1-5: Bleeding
The first day of bleeding is the first day of the new cycle. The average length of bleeding is 5 days, but it can last from 2-8 days. Bleeding is usually the heaviest on the first couple of days. Fertility is at the lowest point during this phase.
Days 6-14: Preparation for Pregnancy
Once bleeding has stopped, the body begins to prepare for possible pregnancy. The uterine lining becomes thicker and enriched with blood and nutrients.
Days 14-25: Fertilization Can Occur
Around day 14, an egg is released and travels down the Fallopian tube into the uterus. At this point, pregnancy can occur and fertility is high. So, have sex for the few days after day 14 if you want to get pregnant! This state lasts for around 11 days.
Days 25-28: Preparation for Menstruation
If the egg is not fertilized, hormones signal to your body that it’s time to prepare to shed the lining of the uterus. Specially, progesterone levels drop sharply. The egg breaks down and is released along with it.
Day 1: Bleeding (next cycle begins)
After 28 days or so, bleeding begins again as the lining of your uterus is shed. This marks the first day of your new cycle.
How Long is a Normal Menstrual Cycle?
As you can see, the “normal” menstrual cycle is 28 days. However, anything from 21-35 days is considered to be within the average range and doesn’t really require medical attention. Most people have a flow that lasts between 2 and 7 days.
If your cycle is less than 21, or more than 35, check in with your doctor. This is particularly true if you’re trying to get pregnant.
Can I Get Pregnant on Days Other than 14-25?
Although it is less common to get pregnant on days 1-13, or 25-28 of your cycle, it is indeed possible! This is particularly true when you factor in “human error.”
You may actually think it’s day 10 (in the safe zone), but in reality it’s day 14 (you can easily get pregnant).
Another reason is that unless you’re on birth control, your cycle changes. Perhaps the egg gets released a day or two early this month? Or a day or two late? Fertility is not that easy to predict in some cases.
It’s for this reason that we don’t recommend using cycle tracking to prevent pregnancy. Use a condom, birth control, IUD, or other form of protection (check with your doctor for the options).
That said, it can be used to help you get pregnant. Focus your efforts on days 14-25 of your menstrual cycle.
Menstrual Cycle Introduction
How Long In Between Periods?
If your cycle runs 28 days, and you bleed for 5 days, that’s 23 days in between periods. This is considered to the average length of time between periods.
Or, perhaps you have a 30 day cycle, and bleed for 3 days. In that case, you’d have 27 days between periods.
Maybe you have a short, 24 day cycle, but bleed for 6 days. In this case, it’d be only 18 days.
You can learn more here:
I have a Long Cycle: What are Some Causes?
Some people have a very long menstrual cycle. But, what are the long menstrual cycle causes? Why is my menstrual cycle getting longer each mont?
Here are a few of the most common reasons for a long cycle:
Many people experience long cycles for 3-10 years before menopause. This is normal and not really something to worry about.
Pregnancy or Breastfeeding
When you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you won’t have your period. If you’re having sexual intercourse, and you’re having a particularly long menstrual cycle, you should suspect pregnancy and check this out.
Otherwise, most people don’t menstruate when they’re breastfeeding.
Hormonal irregularities are most common in pre, and perimenopausal women.
Physical or Medical Conditions
A long menstrual cycle can be the result of certain physical or medical things, including the following:
- Change in eating habits (poor nutrition)
- Heavy exercise
- Thyroid dysfunction
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- Uterine abnormalities
- Cervical cancer (rare, but check with a medical professional to rule this out)
Certain Types of Birth Control
There are certain types of birth control that cause you to get your period far less than you naturally would because they inhibit ovulation. Check with your doctor or medical professional as for what to expect for your specific brand.
40 Day Menstrual Cycle: is it Normal?
Can Being Sick Cause my Period to be Late?
If you’ve been very sick, your period may be late. It’s rare, and you have to be quite sick, but it does happen. The common cold probably isn’t going to do it however.
Your body may delay ovulation (releasing the egg) because it thinks you’re not well enough to get pregnant. And, changes in other bodily functions can affect other ones like menstruation.
How Much Blood Will I Lose During my Period?
What is a normal period flow? Let’s find out!
When you have your period, it can seem like you’re losing A LOT of blood. In reality, it’s actually only 2-3 Tablespoons. However, it can range from 1-6 Tablespoons and be considered “normal.”
The reason why it might seem like more is because there are other fluids that are lost along with it. About half of the total menstrual fluid is actually blood.
Some of these other fluids include:
- Cervical mucus
- Vaginal secretions
- Endometrial tissue
However, there are some possible problems associated with this. In one case, menstrual flow is very, very light. This may seem like good news, but it usually indicates that there’s a problem of some kind.
More details here: Very Light Periods.
On the other hand, some people bleed so much that their daily lives are impacted. They can lose more than 80 ml of menstrual fluid in a cycle, and anemia is definitely a concern in many cases, so they need to get their iron levels checked.
How Can I Keep Track of My Periods?
There are a few reasons why you might want to keep track of your periods through menstrual charting:
- You’re going on a trip and aren’t sure if you need to bring period products with you
- You’re trying to get pregnant (or want to prevent pregnancy)
- You have a medical condition related to your period and your doctor asks you to track your period
One of the best ways to track your period is to use an app on your phone. Check out a few of our recommendations here:
It’s menstrual charting made simple.
Or, just go old school and mark it on your calendar!
How to Track your Menstrual Cycle
When Should I See my Doctor?
Keep in mind that there’s a wide range for “normal periods.” However, there are a few situation in which it’s best to check with your doctor about your concerns for a few tests:
- After years of having a regular period, it suddenly starts to fluctuate. This could be a sign of an underlying problem.
- Your period stops for longer than 3 months, but you aren’t pregnant
- You think you might be pregnant
- Your period is longer than 8 days and/or you bleed more heavily than normal
- You soak through a jumbo tampon or heavy pad in less than 2 hours
- You experience spotting, when you haven’t before
- The length of your cycle is fewer than 21 days, or longer than 35
It can sometimes be a long process to figure out what’s going on and get the care you need. But, do your part and track your cycle, along with symptoms like PMS to help your doctor understand.
How Long Does a Period Last on Birth Control?
A common question that people have is how long they can expect their period to last when they’re on birth control.
The original birth control pills were designed around a 28-day cycle. They contain 21 days of hormones, and then 7 days of placebo pills. This 7 day time frame is when menstruation occurs.
These days, there are a few different birth control options. There are some brands that have a 28-day cycle, but have 24 days of hormones, and 4 days of placebo pills.
There are even some extended-cycle regimens that allow you to stop having periods for up to a year. This can be a good option for someone with extremely heavy period, or terrible cramps for example.
How Long Does Your First Period Last?
A common question that preteens or teens have is how long their first period might last. It can last anywhere from 2-7 days, and it may be different in the following month.
Most people have irregular periods for the first couple of years. This is due to fluctuating hormone levels. After that, you can probably expect some regularity in terms of length, timing, and flow.
What Does your First Period Look Like?
Here’s what you can expect when starting your first period. The colour of it can range from pinkish to bright red, to brown. Most people go through these colour changes within a period, as the newer blood is bright in colour, and then it gets darker towards the end of your period as the blood is older.
It’s normal, and nothing to worry about!
As far as how much? There is no one single answer. Many people have light periods for the first couple of years, but some people don’t. However, if you’re bleeding through a jumbo tampon or pad in a couple of hours, please see your doctor. This is not normal.
When Can I Expect my First Period?
The average age that people start their first period is at 12. However, it can range from 10-14. In general, you’ll get your first period 2 years after the first signs of puberty, such as breast development.
You also might notice some yellow or white vaginal discharge in the months leading up to your first period.
If you haven’t started your period by the age of 15, it’s a good idea to check in with your doctor. There may be a problem related to that.
Please note that there is no way to influence when you’ll get, or not get your first period. You can only wait and see! If you’re worried about it, please see your doctor.
Learn More about Starting your Period
What is a Period for Boys?
It all seems so unfair! All of these things happening during puberty, but only to girls. Is that really the case, or do boys have an equivalent thing to a period?
You can learn more here: What Happens to Boys at Puberty.
Is “Period Brain” Really a Thing?
Maybe you’re had the period brain fog before. Your brain on period, is it really a thing? Let’s find out!
There have been a few articles on the Internet lately about your brain on periods. The theory is that many women experience things like the following on the first couple days of their period:
- Mental fogginess (brain fog)
- Difficulty in concentrating
- Feeling fatigued
- Tired from changing sleep patterns
However, a new study from 2017 says that “period brain” just isn’t a thing. In terms of brain functioning, there is no noticeable difference between when you have your period, and when you don’t.
So, the period brain for you might think you have? It’s not actually backed up by science.
But, keep in mind that the study didn’t take into account how menstrual symptoms (cramps, fatigue) can affect a women’s state of mind.
Why is My Menstrual Cycle Getting Shorter?
Maybe you’ve had a regular, 28-day cycle for years. But suddenly it starts getting shorter. And now you perhaps have a cycle that is only 24-days. Is this a big problem? What is causing it?
Learn more here:
I Have Shorter Periods than Normal
People normally bleed for around 5 days. But, it can last anywhere from 2-8 days. However, what if you start to have shorter periods than usual?
Is this a problem? It seems kind of like a dream come true actually! There are various reasons for this including some not so serious ones like Perimenopause or excessive exercise.
However, there are also some very serious reasons why this might be happening so you should check with your doctor to rule them out.
More details about it here: My Period are Shorter Than Normal.
Tips for Dealing with a Long Menstrual Period
There are a number of things you can do to deal with your long menstrual period in style. Check out a few of them here:
Tip #1: Use a Menstrual Cup
Better for the Environment
According to this article, the average women uses 5,000-14,000 tampons during the course of her lifetime. This doesn’t even say anything about the energy used to manufacture and ship the products, or the packaging that tampons come in. Now factor in pads as well and clearly that’s a lot of waste going to the landfill!
The average silicone menstrual cup lasts for up to 10 years with proper care and cleaning. The Keeper Cup, made from latex instead on silicone can last even longer. A single menstrual cup has the potential to replace hundreds (thousands?) of tampons and pads. And, you can even recycle them at the end of your period.
Saves you Money
Think about all these pads and tampons we talked about in the previous section about the environment. These obviously cost money. The worst part about it is that disposable pads and tampons are actually quite expensive. Nobody likes paying the pink tax. A way to get around this is to get a menstrual cup. Although it is a bit of money up-front, you’ll recoup your costs in just a few months. Then, all those months and years after that are essentially free. For more details, check out: Are Menstrual Cups Expensive?
Reputable menstrual cups (not the cheap cups from China) range in price from $15-40. If you’re looking for one of the lower-priced cups that are still excellent quality, then consider the following:
Better for your Health
Disposable pads and tampons contain chemicals that aren’t good for your health. There are pesticides that are used to grow the cotton. There are also chemicals and dyes from the manufacturing process. In the USA, disposables are classified as “medical devices” by the FDA so aren’t required to disclose what’s in them. Hopefully this will change in the future, but in the meantime, it makes sense to go organic, or stick with reusable menstrual products.
Another health benefit to menstrual cups is that they come without the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). There have been reports of this serious problem being caused by tampons, but no reported cases with menstrual cups.
Maybe you’ve been cursed with not only a long menstrual period, but a heavy one as well. Sorry to hear that. If you’re the type of person who has to change their tampon, even a jumbo one every couple of hours, check out a menstrual cup. Even jumbo tampons have capacities of only 10 ml or so. High capacity menstrual cups have capacities of up to 40 ml.
4x more capacity = 4x less hassle.
Check out these higher capacity menstrual cups to consider in the chart below:
The Best High-Capacity Menstrual Cups
|Best Overall||Most Affordable||Newest High Capacity Cup|
|Super Jennie||Anigan Eva Cup||XO Flo|
|42 ml capacity||37 ml capacity||38 ml capacity|
|Check Prices||Check Prices||Check Prices|
Want to buy a Menstrual Cup?
Are you convinced of the menstrual cup awesome and want to buy one? Then you’ll need to take our menstrual cup quiz. There are five easy questions that will help you choose the best menstrual cup for your body type.
Tip #2: Go with Reusable Cloth Pads instead of Disposables
Reusable cloth pads, compared to their disposable counterparts have a lot of the same advantages that menstrual cups have over tampons. They don’t contain all the chemicals and pesticides that disposable pads do. If you have a long menstrual period, you’re probably using pads and tampons for more than a week each month. It makes sense to use the option with the least amount of toxins possible. In case you’ve never heard of reusable pads, check out: Cloth Pad FAQs.
Another advantage to reusable cloth pads is that they’ll save you a lot of money. If you have a long menstrual period, you probably go through an entire box of pads each cycle. Maybe even more. This definitely adds up quickly over the course of a year, and a lifetime. The average cloth menstrual pad costs about $5-10, and they’re even cheaper if you make your own. You’ll recoup your costs in a only a few months.
If cloth menstrual pads sound like what you need to make your long menstrual period cheaper, and safer, then check out the following:
Tip #3: Check with your Doctor
There are medical reasons, including some quite serious ones why you might have a longer menstrual period than normal. Check with your doctor to see if this is the case for you. There are also medical solutions to help reduce the length of your period. You can see if one of these is a possibility for you.
Low on Iron?
Another thing to check with your doctor about is your iron levels, especially if you often feel tired, weak, short of breath, or dizzy (there are more symptoms-check online). If you have a long menstrual period and/or a heavy flow, then you might be low on iron. You can find out with a simple blood check, and then you can take iron supplements. But, please do this in consultation with your doctor, and only after getting your levels checked.
Another thing to check with your doctor about if you have a heavy flow is taking Ibuprofen. According to this article, taking Ibuprofen during the heaviest part of your period can reduce flow by 25-30%. Of course, don’t self-medicate and check with your doctor before starting this.
Tip #4: Pay Attention to your Overall Health
If you have a long menstrual period, you probably feel pretty drained towards the end of it. That’s a significant amount of fluid to lose, along with all that iron. It can help to pay attention to your overall health. Engage in self-care by doing some of the following things:
- Eat healthy. Focus on fruits, vegetables and healthy protein.
- Drink water. Be sure to stay hydrated by drinking water throughout the day.
- Get enough sleep. Your body needs rest to recover and feel good.
- Exercise. If you’re not up for serious exercise, go for a walk or a short bike ride. Keep active and you’ll feel better.
What is your Average Period Length?
How long is your period? Is it longer than normal and do you have any tips for dealing with it? Leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts. We’d love to hear from you.
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Please note: This content is provided for informational purposes only and it not to be considered as medical advice. Please talk to a medical professional for advice specific to your situation.