How Long Should a Period Last?

We’ve all had that friend who chimes in while we’re lamenting over our painful, seemingly endless periods. She says things like, “Oh, mine aren’t that bad” or “Are you sure that’s normal? My period only lasts X number of days.”

But what exactly is normal? Menstrual cycles that culminate in short, light flows? Or longer, heavier periods?

The answer might be more complex than you think.

Tracking Your Periods

First, it’s important to know just how long your menstrual cycle and periods actually are. You can track your menstrual cycle the old-school way by marking the first day you start bleeding one month and the first day you start bleeding the next month, then noting how many days pass between these dates. Doing this consistently will tell you how long your menstrual cycle tends to last.

Or you can save some time by downloading any number of popular apps to track your periods. These make it easier by allowing you to use your phone, tablet, or computer to monitor your cycle, record your symptoms, and become more aware of when you’ll experience things like PMS or ovulation.

Most women will come up with a cycle that is an average of 28 days, but not all of us have the same cycles. Once you know how long your menstrual cycle is, you can keep a look out for potential pregnancies or plan ahead for your periods. 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.

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 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.

First Periods

Most of us start our periods between the ages of twelve or thirteen, but some girls start younger and some start later. Usually, a girl’s cycle will start about two or three years after her breasts begin to develop and a year after a noticeable growth spurt.  

If you’re a teenager and 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.

Young women should check in with their doctor if they haven’t had their first period by the time they turn fifteen years old.

Factors That Can Affect Your Period’s Length

Factors like biology, stress, and travel can affect when your period comes and the number of days it lasts. 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

Those of us who use birth control pills often have shorter periods with a lighter flow. Traditional pill packs feature several “non-active” or placebo pills that trigger your period. Women can prevent their periods by skipping the placebo pills and diving right into a new pack, or they can take a medication like Seasonale, which is specifically designed to allow women to avoid the majority of their periods.

Since the introduction of Seasonale in 2003, scads of new birth control pill formulas have come onto the market that allow you to skip most of your periods. And when you do eventually have a period on these medications, 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

There’s no reason to be concerned if your period occasionally lasts longer than seven days. Your extended flow could be caused by normal hormonal fluctuations or your body adjusting to a change in your lifestyle.

But there might be more going on if you regularly have long, heavy periods. Underlying health conditions could be affecting your menstrual cycle. Most of them are treatable, and simple medical treatments could greatly improve your quality of life. Other rarer disorders may be life threatening, so it’s a good idea to check in with a doctor when your periods are consistently abnormal.

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.

Periods that last less than two days or that come at irregular intervals could be caused by a variety if physical factors, like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or perimenopause. Light spotting can also be a symptom of pregnancy. If you notice a radical change in your cycles, visit your OBGYN to make sure all your lady bits are working as they should.

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 these ranges. Also, if you’ve been menstruating for more than two years and your period hasn’t 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 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 heavier 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many days does a normal period last?

Most women bleed three to five days during their period. But a normal period is considered bleeding that lasts anywhere from two to seven days.

Is it normal to have your period for 10 days?

There’s nothing to worry about if your period is on the longer side of normal (five to seven days). But if you are bleeding more than eight days during your period, you should check in with your doctor. Also, if you notice sudden changes in the duration and heaviness of your period, you should also make an appointment with your OBGYN to ensure there aren’t an underlying health issues causing this shift in your periods.

Why is my period lasting longer than normal?

There are many things that could affect the length of your period, so it’s important to seek the advice of a medical professional if you notice changes in your cycle or flow. Some common issues that may cause your periods to become abnormal are stress, hormone imbalances, infections, and thyroid conditions.

How long should a period last before going to a doctor?

You should call your doctor if regular periods become irregular, your menstrual cycle is less than 21 days or more than 35, or if your period lasts more than seven days straight.

How do you end your period faster?

There’s no guarantee that you can end your period faster without medical help, but there are a few things that you can do that may help. Eating healthy and exercising regularly might shorten your period. Taking specific vitamins or using pads instead of tampons is another way. Some people even claim that having an orgasm can make your periods end faster!

62 Comments
  1. Hello I’m about to be a teen I started my period very fast that I would be surprised to see when it happens at my age but it could happen anytime at a age as a women or child so I will like to know of anyone can relay to this, may ask how many days will my period stop at, please tell me I will love to know so please as fast as you can tell me and help someone out because I will be my old self again not wearing a pad that I have to change every single (DAY) when I use the bathroom thank you.

    • Hello Marie!
      Welcome to the next phase of your life. It’s an exciting, yet scary transition, but if you know what to expect, it’s not all that bad.

      It seems like there has been a shift in the age range in which individuals start getting their periods. I’ve heard of several cases where a person has experienced their first sight of blood as young as nine years old. This includes one of my nieces.

      As a teen, your first couple of years will probably be unpredictable and irregular. Your body and hormones are still trying to balance themselves out. Your period might come and then vanish for a couple of months. It might last a couple of days as a light flow or it could last a few days and be a mix of light and heavy flow. You will also probably see brownish blood or discharge. Don’t be alarmed. This is normal.

      That being said, no one can tell you when you’re period will actually end.
      A “normal” period is what is normal for each individual. Since everyone is different, we will all have a different experience.

      However, as a general rule of thumb, a period will last anywhere from two to seven days. It could still be shorter or longer than that.

      A couple of years after you’ve had your period, it will start to get more regular. You’ll be able to keep a log (or app – I use Clue Period Tracker) which will help you determine when you should expect your period so that you’re always prepared. I would suggest carrying an “emergency period kit” just in case – a couple of period products, some wipes, and an extra change of underwear.

      Congratulations and Good Luck <3
      Red Herring
      @redherringtv
      RedHerringTV on YouTube

  2. Hi I am 21 and early this year I had a delay in my period and a pharmacist prescribed a drug for me which I took to the hospital and the doctor said the drug was too harsh for me that its an abortion pills bt not to worry I shld jst relax that I have hormonal imbalance so I relaxed and it came.Bt since den my period has been irregular,last month it started on d 20th and ended on the25th bt this month I have not seen it and today 27 so I am worried bcuz in run pregnancy test each time it delays and is always negative so pls help me out,am I okay?

    • Hello There!

      Did that change in your period just start or has it been unpredictible for a while? I find it very strange that they would prescribe something so strong if this isn’t a normal thing for you.

      My period was very irregular for over a year before my doctor prescribed anything for me to take to try to “correct” it. And even then, they started with birth control pills to regulate my cycle and flow.

      Since I am not a medical physician, I would suggest seeking out an ob-gyn. They are specilized in the reproductive system and would be best to set of plan of action in correcting what (if anything) is wrong.

      Good Luck <3

  3. I am 30 years old now ,I had my ectopic pregnancy surgery (left follopian tube removed) 2013, when I was 25years, and my period do change at times,like 22, 24,25,26 circle length… The one I did last from oct 23 to Nov 17, 2018.. was 25 circle length and 3days period length, 1st days iwas medium and severe pains,2nd day was heavy flow severe pains, 3rd day was medium and pains was moderate , what am bordering about is I still see a little blood on 4th day, my question is am going to count it as 4th period or i will Ieave it as a stain ? Since 5 years now we are trying for a baby but no avail I have done so series of test since 2013 till early 2018 (HGC) and d rest !!!!. What they were telling me was I am ok to concieve.. The last test I did dis November 2018 they ask me to hold one dictector and I shouldn’t talk , after the test was done. This is d reference test 1)cholesterol, 2)low tissue blood supply, 3) low female hormone, 4)constant headache 5) low insulin (good sugar & urine sugar) can these caused my delayed? ..what can I do ? Or do u have drug u can prescribe for me to use or any of ur advice will be acceptable… I will look forward to hear from you. Thanks

    • I’m so sorry to hear about all of your medical issues 🙁 and your loss.
      I really can’t say what is happening with your cycle and/or your period. But, I will say that the short period and spotting might be because of your medical issues and stress! Stress can play a BIG part of sending your body out of whack.
      Since none of us are doctors here we can’t give you any medical advice or prescribe you with any medications. You’ll have to seek medical attention for that.
      I wish you the best and hope that you and a doctor can figure things out.

      Good Luck & Warm thoughts <3

  4. Hi,

    I am 31 years old. I have been experiencing a shorter period of maximum 4 days, the first two days comes heavy and the two days it come light or just spots. I am wondering if this is normal or not because I have started experiencing this at the beginning of 2017 to date. Need your advice.

  5. hi plz i want to consult .. i am on my periods and it is prolong then usual.. i am still on my periods and it lasted for about 24 days .. i am worried plzz tell me is there any chance if it is abnormal in any way ?

  6. at the end of my period there is a brown or yellow substance, does that mean that that’s it or??

    • How long can women hold their periods for when they’re pregnant

      • there are some women who don’t have a period whent hey are pregnant, but there are also some who still have their period while beign pregnant. My aunt and a few other family members on my birth moms side had their periods while pregnant. it just depends on the womans body and everything 🙂

  7. Hi, I am 14 years old and I got my period in 6th grade. It has been over 2 years now and I’m still not regular. I skip my periods most of the time and when they do come,sometimes i get lucky and they are normal and other times they can last A LONG time. My longest is 2 months, but it wasn’t heavy, it was pretty light. I don’t experience any pain while I’m on my periods, but should I be worried? Is it time to see a doctor? I heard it can be a while before you become normal while you are going through puberty, but I don’t know if this is normal.

    • Hi KB,
      “Normal” is different for everyone, and since none of us are doctors on this site, I can only speculate.
      You’re still young and your hormones are still out of wack even if it’s been over two years since you’ve started your period.

      If you’re concerned, I would definitely check with a doctor. They can tell you for sure if and what is going on and to put your mind at peace.
      They may also be able to suggest or prescribe something to regulate your cycle.

      Good Luck!! <3

  8. Reply
    Yasmine Ouldtoumi May 1, 2018 at 9:59 am

    Hey there. My period comes every 17 days for 5 days… My doctor gave me DUPHASTON to eat from day 16 to 25.. But I heard its bad for me.. Please advice me and thanks ?

    • Hi Yasmine!

      First of all, I’m not a doctor and this site should not be used to replace one. If you have concerns, your doctor should be willing to explain why they recommended the prescription and what it does. If you’re not comfortable with the treatment, they should be able to give you an alternative option.

      I do know what you’re going through. My period used to be every 15 days, like clockwork. I remember when I knew I was pregnant for the first time. It was 18 days and I hadn’t started my flow.

      Anyhow, not too long after I gave birth my periods were still very irregular even for my irregular period! I was put on a pill that was a higher dosage of progesterone (similar to what you’re taking now). Then again several years later, I was prescribed something similar to stop my unusually long periods.

      Currently, my daughter is also having some issues and was prescribed with the same to start her period again.

      Duphaston is used to treat several conditions in which there is a hormonal imbalance that progesterone is lacking. It’s a synthetic progesterone.

      There are several hormones that are present during menstruation. They “kick in” at different times for different reasons.

      Progesterone tells the body to create a thick lining in the uterus (endometrium) to prepare the uterus for implantation (of an egg).
      If there is no pregnancy, progesterone levels decrease and the lining is shed (menstruation).

      If any hormone is out of balance, the menstrual cycle can become irregular.

      Many people find the synthetic hormone to be helpful in regulating their cycle. Others feel that any type of synthetic hormone is bad.

      It’s up to you to weigh your options. For myself, the long, heavy, irregular periods were too much for me to handle. For my daughter, missing several periods in consecutive months made her worry.
      Therefore we both chose to try the synthetic hormone.

      As with anything, people may or may not experience side effects. They can include but are not limited to, headaches, spotting between periods, tender breasts, rash, nausea, and dizziness.

      I know it’s frustrating 🙁 I hope that your period becomes regular again and that you can stop taking Duphaston, or that your doctor is understanding in your concerns and has an alternative option.

      Good Luck!

  9. I have 28 days cycle but I used to see little cloth of blood on the last day ie the fourth day.
    And after the period,I still see stain of blood for about two days after period.I only notice it whenever I cleaned up after urinating.So is it normal?

  10. Hi please my period has come 3 time this month please is it normal?

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