How Long Should a Period Last?

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It’s may not be something you talk about every day. But asking some important questions about menstruation can give you some insight into your reproductive health.

 

 

 

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 what’s normal for you. But being knowledgeable about your menstrual cycle can help you identify when normal goes awry.

You get your period when your uterus sheds its lining. Part of your menstrual flow is blood and part of it is that lining called endometrium. Most women get their period about 12 to 16 days after ovulation.

The menstrual cycle is 28 days on average, and a normal period lasts anywhere from two to seven days with three to five days being average.

 

 

First periods

If you’re a teenager and are experiencing your first period, it may take up to two years for your menstrual cycle to become predictable and regular. Your cycle also may run longer than the 28-day average seen in adults.

If you keep track of your periods, marking the start date on the calendar, then counting 28 days ahead, or however many days your typical cycle is, you can plan ahead. This way you’ll have pads and tampons on hand (or your menstrual cup, if you’ve gone that route). Many women try to avoid scheduling vacations or other important days during the time they’ll have their periods.

 

 

Factors that can affect your period’s length

Some lifestyle and medical factors can affect the number of days you have your period. They can also have an impact on the amount of bleeding and severity of cramps that you experience.

Your age can affect the amount of hormones in your body; for example, as we get older, we produce less estrogen. This can lead to a lighter and shorter period. However, if a woman has a polyp or fibroid in her uterus, she may experience heavier bleeding for a longer number of days.

 

 

Lighter periods with birth control pills

Women who use birth control pills often have shorter periods with lighter flow. Traditional pill packs feature several “non-active” or placebo pills that trigger your period. Even before the advent of pills like Seasonale that were specifically designed to allow women to skip their periods, many women would skip taking the non-active pills to avoid having their period during inconvenient times.

Since the introduction of Seasonale in 2003, scads of new birth control pill formulations have come onto the market that allow you to skip your period. And when you do have a period, you can have a lighter, shorter one.

It might take a few months after you first start taking birth control pills until your periods normalize. In fact, the most common cause of irregular bleeding is missed pills.

 

Long periods

If your period runs longer than usual, it’s often the result of normal hormonal fluctuations and not something to worry about. If you’ve experienced a sudden change in the number of days you menstruate, it’s always wise to check with a doctor to find out if there’s a medical issue behind it. If your period has always run long, mention it at your next gyno exam.

 

 

Short periods

What makes a period “too short”? As long as a short menstrual period is part of a regular pattern and fits within a range of two to seven days, you’re considered to have normal periods.

The length of your period all depends on how much estrogen you produce. If your body doesn’t make a lot of it, your uterine lining won’t be very thick and, when it sheds, the bleeding is light and only lasts for a few days.

Younger women may have short and irregular periods, and older women approaching menopause may also experience irregular or short menstrual periods.

 

 

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 those ranges. Also, if you’ve been menstruating for more than two years and your period hasn’t become regular, visit a health care provider.

Being sick or under stress can cause you to skip your period. 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 haven’t gotten your first period by age 15.
  • You don’t 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.
  • Your menstrual flow is more heavy than usual.
  • You experience bleeding between periods.
  • You experience horrible pain during menstruation.
  • You suddenly get a fever and feel ill after using tampons.

If your irregular or short menstrual cycle is a new development and not your typical pattern, it’s always a good idea to consult with your doctor.

What’s your normal? Are you blessed with naturally lighter, shorter periods? Or are you changing out pads for seven days straight? Let us know in the comments!

Susie Slack is a freelance writer who loves crafting content for the Web. When she's not writing, you can find her taking care of her 12 pets (all in one fishtank).

13 Comments
  1. Reply
    Evie September 4, 2017 at 9:40 am

    Should i be scared? Im 11…rn is my 8th day of my period…my first period was in feb…so is that normal for my age? Pls help im scared planing on telling my mom…

    • Reply
      Red Herring September 5, 2017 at 7:21 pm

      Hi Evie!

      First of all, congrats on your new phase of life!
      Periods all differ for everyone, so there is no set amount of days when you’ll start or when you’ll end 🙁 Sadly, it’s always going to be an approximate.
      Since this is only your first period, your body is still adjusting. Your hormones are all out of wack!

      In the start, your period may last only a few days. It’ll probably very light and you may only have some spotting or reddish brown blood. Your “period” will probably only last anywhere from 2 to 7 days. However, you may spot longer as many do. I would suggest keeping track and tell your mom so she knows your concern.

      It may take up to six year or more after you starts your first cycle for it to be “regular”. And when I say “regular” I mean “regular” for you.

      Some people will have spotting at the beginning and ending of their period. It’s a sign to them that their period is coming or going. Other’s bleed heavy on the first day or a couple of days and then it will slow.

      If you use a period tracker app like “CLUE” it’ll help you see how long your periods last and notify you when you’ll be starting. Period Tracker Apps can be VERY handy!

      Please forgive some of the copied/pasted reply from the post before. It sounds like you both are due for some Luck and Congrats <3

  2. Reply
    ladybug August 16, 2017 at 2:32 pm

    Hi! Can somebody explain how you know your period is ending? I’m on my second period, on my first one it only lasted for about 3 days. So I’m not sure if that’s normal or if it will fluctuate. tbh periods suck so I would like to know about signs that will tell me my period is ending.

    • Reply
      Red Herring September 5, 2017 at 7:15 pm

      Hi Ladybug!

      First of all, congrats on your new phase of life!
      Periods all differ for everyone, so there is no set amount of days when you’ll start or when you’ll end 🙁 Sadly, it’s always going to be an approximate.
      Since this is only your second period, your body is still adjusting. Your hormones are all out of wack!

      In the start, your period may last only a few days. It’ll probably very light and you may only have some spotting or reddish brown blood. Your “period” will probably only last anywhere from 2 to 7 days.

      It may take up to six year or more after you starts your first cycle for it to be “regular”. And when I say “regular” I mean “regular” for you.

      Some people will have spotting at the beginning and ending of their period. It’s a sign to them that their period is coming or going. Other’s bleed heavy on the first day or a couple of days and then it will slow.

      If you use a period tracker app like “CLUE” it’ll help you see how long your periods last and notify you when you’ll be starting. Period Tracker Apps can be VERY handy!

      Good Luck and Congrats again <3

  3. Reply
    okonji loveth August 14, 2017 at 11:48 pm

    This past few months I have gotten shorter period ranging from 2-3 days and with lighter flow please is it normal or they is something wrong

    • Reply
      Red Herring August 16, 2017 at 12:32 am

      First of all, this site as well as any other site, should not be used to replace a physician. Please seek medical advice from a doctor if your period continues as it is.

      A period that is shorter than normal for you, can mean that you didn’t produce enough estrogen.

      If you’re younger and you’re still going through puberty, hormone levels, including estrogen, haven’t completely balanced out yet. This can cause shorter and/or irregular periods.

      If you’re older and approaching menopause or even peri-menopause (40’s & 50’s), you may also experience this as the ovaries stop producing estrogen and progesterone.

      In both scenarios, important hormones that are required to create the endometrial lining are not present or are off balanced.

      Many other things can cause a period to become shorter such as:
      Birth Control & other medications
      Stress
      Disease or Health Problems
      Weight loss OR weight gain
      Starting OR stopping exercise routines
      etc.
      Even living or staying with other menstruating people can cause your period to change. It’s called the “McClintock Effect” where your period will sync with others.

      There’s really no way to pin point one thing that may be causing this to happen to you with out more info.
      The only way for you to be certain that there isn’t an underlying condition that may need medical attention, is to seek a doctor or clinic.

      I’m sorry that I couldn’t be more help 🙁
      Good Luck and I hope all turn out well.

  4. Reply
    Kayla July 5, 2017 at 2:01 am

    I’m 26 years old. Been going through a lot of stress recently dealing with possible unemployment and the thought of having to move my husband and 17 month old with me to live with my parents. My period has gotten lighter since I’ve had my son and normally lasts 4.5 days. I’m going on day 10 of my period. it looked like it was tapering off on the 8th day but the flow picked back up. It has been fairly light all the way through which is odd, as I’m used to the second day being cramping heavy and flow heavy. I am on birth control, have been on my current one for 9 months now. Should I be concerned, or just chalk it up to stress? I’ve gone months without a period a few times before due to work related stress.

  5. Reply
    Jacqueline June 5, 2017 at 10:49 am

    I use to flow for like 3-4 days now I flow 6-7-8 days what could be wrong ? Is it a normal and what should I do about it.

  6. Reply
    ashley May 30, 2017 at 12:47 pm

    this is my first time on birth control, been on it for about 3 months and this month was the first time getting my period and so far it’s lasted almost 2 weeks! wtf is going on??

    • Reply
      Sadie August 18, 2017 at 5:38 am

      What birth control are you on now I’m a currently going on day 4 of week 2 is this f…… normal

  7. Reply
    Sana May 14, 2017 at 9:29 pm

    I usually used to have 5 days of bleeding bt since last 2 mnths my period gets over in only 2-3 days. Is this a problem? If yes then what should I do and what may the cause of it?

  8. Reply
    Kiesha May 4, 2017 at 6:35 am

    This is the 9th day of my period being on. WTF is going on?!

  9. Reply
    Oyems April 30, 2017 at 8:54 am

    Have 5days flow but prolong to 7days what could be the cause pls advice

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