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.
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.
Things that Influence Average Period Length
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, but some of the most common ones include:
28 day cycle: 21 days on, 7 days off. You will menstruate during the 7 days “off.”
28 day cycle: 24 days on, 4 days off. You’ll bleed during the 4 days “off.”
Some that stop your period for up to a year.
Your First Cycles
Most young people 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 or days between periods varies as well. Expect the unexpected!
As you age, your cycles changes. You flow may get lighter, or heavier. The average length between periods can change as well.
The first few cycles after using an IUD can cause your cycle to become irregular. It takes most people 1-3 months to get back to normal.
Some of the other factors that influence period length include: extreme dieting/weight loss, excessive exercise, infections, stress, changes in diet, etc.
What is a Normal Period Length?
Let’s Talk Menstrual Cycles
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.
Here’s how it works:
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.
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. 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 uterine lining. The egg breaks down and is released along with it.
Day 1: Bleeding (next cycle begins)
After 28 days or so, bleeding begins again. This marks the first day of your new cycle.
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?
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 Many Days Between Periods?
So what is the average time between periods? The average amount of time is around 23 days (assuming a bleeding time of 5 days).
But, it can be as little as 21 days, and as long as 35 days. There really is no “average!”
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.
This is most common in pre, and perimenopausal women.
Physical or Medical Conditions
A long menstrual cycle can be the result of certain physical or medical conditions, 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 your doctor 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. 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?
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
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.
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:
- After years of having a regular period, it suddenly starts to fluctuate
- 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 shorter than 21 days, or longer than 25
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.
Feminine Hygiene Products: The Best Option?
If you’re new to the world of having a period, then you might want to know what the best period protection option is? You have a few choices:
Of these, we generally recommend menstrual cups. They’re affordable, eco-friendly, and better for your health. Click on the above link to find out more about each of these products, or just check out our other recommendations here:
What is your Average Period Length?
Leave a comment below and let us know.