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.
How Long are Periods?
That said, most people have an average period length of around 5 days. However, some people can have shorter periods of 2-3 days, and some people bleed for up to 7-8 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 do periods last? 2-8 days, but the average is 5 days.
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 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 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.
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 Long In Between Periods?
A common question that people have is how long in between periods they have? If your cycle is 28 days, and you bleed for 5 days, that’s 23 days 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, you’d have only 18 days between periods.
You can learn more about days between periods 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.
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 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.
Learn more about it here: Very Heavy Periods.
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 about Period Length?
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 35
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 your period 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 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.
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.