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 im 21 i have my 2 yr old daughter but im concerned about my period . I got my period on 12/29/17-till this day 1/11/18 its 14 days straight n still going on . Is that normal?. i dont take care of myself and i do want to get pregnant. I been trying to get pregnant for the past year but no luck. But my period is not normal for me . I have had my period last long till 9 days but this one is pretty long.
    ANy advice if its normal? or ??

    • Hi Rosalinda!

      I was kind of in the same boat as you at about the same age. However, my bleeding was “regularly” about 14 days or more. Sometimes up to six weeks or longer 🙁

      My hubby and I were trying to conceive for a few years so I didn’t take anything to regulate it. It’s when we stopped “trying” did it happen. Although, it doesn’t happen this way for everyone.

      Side note….my periods are still very irregular at (42 years old) and I’m back at the doctors (next week) to see if they have anything new to tell me.

      Irregularities in your period are caused by changes in your hormone levels, especially estrogen. So if you have too much estrogen, it can be causing you to have heavier or longer periods.

      Sometimes it’s just an imbalance and will correct itself in a couple to few months. These hormonal changes are common and rarely mean something more serious.

      If you do have “Estrogen Dominance”, there are a few things you can do to help.

      Take care of your liver – It breaks down estrogen among other things.
      Eat healthy bacteria – Probiotics foods
      Foods with fibre – reduces the build-up of free-floating estrogen. Foods like wheat/corn/rice bran, the skins of fruits and veggies, nuts, seeds, some types of beans and whole grain foods.
      Vitamins supplements – Zinc, magnesium, vitamin b6 and others help breakdown and elimination excess estrogen.

      Stress and poor sleep can also contribute to “Estrogen Dominance”. High stress levels “steals” progesterone, leaving excess estrogen. And poor sleep habits causes a reduction in the hormone melatonin, which help protect against estrogen dominance.

      Take care of yourself so that you can take care of your babies 🙂
      Since we’re not doctors on this site, we can only speculate. The best thing to do is to visit your OB-GYN and check what they have to say. Be sure to tell them that you’re trying to get pregnant so that they know NOT to suggest hormonal birth control to regulate your period. They can also determine if you need supplements for anemia (iron deficiency) if you have one.

      Good Luck!! <3

  2. I am a 21 year old female who has had 7 day long periods for a couple of years now. My current (and the past two) periods have been longer, one being 10 and the other being 13 days My last period was light until day 7.

    • Hi I’d like to stay anonymous for now but I am 15 and have had my period since I first turned 14 and each one averages from 8 to 10 days is this normal?

    • Are you counting days that you’re spotting? Some people count those days as part of their period and others don’t. Spotting is normal. Excessive spotting may not be. I know it’s frustrating being a leaky faucet 🙁

      Irregularities in your period are caused by changes in your hormone levels, especially estrogen. So if you have too much estrogen, it can be causing you to have heavier or longer periods.

      Sometimes it’s just an imbalance and will correct itself in a couple to few months. These hormonal changes are common and rarely mean something more serious.

      A “normal” period doesn’t have to be exactly 7 days. Many people have a different number of “normal” days and they’re normally not the exact amount of days as the last. It’s more of an approximate. So someone can have their “normal” period for 3-5 days and someone else can have their “normal” period for 7-10 days. These may or maybe include days they are spotting before or after.

      Since we’re not doctors on this site, we can only speculate. The best thing to do is to visit your OB-GYN and check what they have to say. They may prescribe a hormonal birth control to help regulate your period. Not only can they determine the cause of your prolonged periods, they can also determine if you need supplements for anemia (iron deficiency) if you have one.

      Good Luck and I hope that your period tapers down for you or that your doctor is able to help. <3

  3. My normal flow is 6-7 days but I have been menstruating for 10days and it don’t seem to be stopping now

    • Hi SU!

      There are many things that can make our menstrual flow fluctuate including eating habits, starting or stopping exercise, stress, weight loss or gain, and many others. If this is the first time that your period has lasted longer than normal, I wouldn’t be concerned. Your body might just be changing or going through a spell. Wait this one out and see if it doesn’t clear up during your next period.
      If it continues to last long for another period or two and you’re still worried, I would definitely seek medical attention to make sure everything is okay.
      They may suggest birth control pills to help regulate you. If you prefer not to take any hormones, they may be able to suggest some supplements to help with excessive bleeding.
      Good Luck!

  4. Hi I am 22 and half and my and m menstruating for only 2 days not more than that and my periods occurs after 21 days only and this is happening from last 8 months but in the beginning he bleedinf lasted for 3 to 4 days but from the 3 months it’s only for 2 days is it a matter of concern or is it not to be worry? Plz help

    • Hi Kesha!

      A lot of people are “lucky” enough to only have their periods for two days. Even your 3-4 days are short compared to many other people.

      When you start your very first period, it’s normally irregular for a couple to a few years. It’s different for everyone, but it’s because our bodies are still trying to balance out our hormones.

      Since your period has been regular on two day spans, I don’t really see a concern. That may be your “normal”. If it starts to change drastically, that’s when I would seek medical attention.

      If you want to regulate your period, you can ask your doctor or clinic if pills would be a good option for you.
      Good Luck!!

  5. 23 years old and started my first period when I was 13 but as the years went on my period came less and less and then stopped. I finally talked myself into getting checked out and have been put on birth control. I hadnt had a normal period for probably 2-3 years. Started the pills last month and am currently on the last week of this pack but started spotting 3 days before those pills, once I took the placebo pill my flow started getting heavier seemed like but its more like blood clots and having to go to the bathroom to change every hour or so. Please help is this normal where I hadnt had one in so long or what do you think?

    • Hi Brandy!

      I’m sorry to hear that you’re having some issues with your period. I’ve had an irregular period since I started at 12/13 years old so I totally understand your frustration. I too, was prescribed pills to regulate my period, but that failed me by making my periods even worse than before.

      Sadly, I can’t give you an answer as to why your periods have become very heavy along with clots. I know that after not bleeding a while, I will have the same and sometimes it’ll last a while (some times up to or more than six weeks!) with brown (old) blood.

      Changes in your life, stress, starting or stopping exercise, eating habits, weight…and several other things may cause irregularities in your cycle including those pills. That’s something that you’ll want to seek medical advice about. They may need to change the pills or the dose to balance your hormones.

      I’m not a doctor so I can’t diagnosis anything. I’d hate for you to ignore these issues and then find out there was something wrong.

      If your doctor finds that there’s nothing to be worried about, you might want to ask them if Yarrow or Raspberry (tea or pill form) suplements or anything else may help with excessive bleeding. I still take a half a dose of Yarrow (pill form) when my periods are very heavy and last a couple or more weeks.

      I’m sorry that I couldn’t help you with this. I wish you luck and good health!!

  6. Just started my first period this week! It’s been going on five days now, but I’ve had such heavy bleeding every day that I don’t think it’s going to stop for at least another few days. Is this normal? I know it’s a first period so will be very irregular, but it’s just so heavy and I’m feeling so fed up all of a sudden, my back feels like it’s going to snap off, and I’ve had straight stomach aches every day for the past 5 days. Thank you for any help, all advice appreciated x

    • Hi Judy!
      First of all, congrats on your first period 🙂 I know it doesn’t seem like a good thing, but it is a phase in almost every one’s life that has a uterus 😛
      Anyhow, you are correct about your period being irregular. It’ll probably be pretty irregular for at least the next couple of years until your hormones balance out.
      I know it can be frustrating 🙁 On average, a period will last approx seven days. So you do have a couple more days to match the “average” time length.
      Some periods stop as suddenly as they start. There’s nothing that says our periods have to spot coming in or going out of your actual period. So hopefully it’ll stop abruptly for you, too.
      You might want to check with your doctor or at a free clinic (if you have one near) to see if they can suggest something to give you some comfort. I hate to suggest birth control to regulate your periods since you just started, but there might some some alternative things you can do or some supplements that you can take. Until then, heat pads or hot packs on your abdomen and lower back might give you some temporary relief. If you have neither handy, dampen a kitchen hand towel, place it in a zip lock and microwave it for 30 secs or more. The bag makes the heat last longer. Be care when you handle it. Depending on your microwave, it may be very hot!

      Congrats again and big hugs <3

      *Please remember that we're not here to replace medical advise or care.

  7. so my periods are heavy, lots of blood clots and the stay as long as 15 days ….. I don’t get much pain but it’s really frustrating having this for so long. what should I do?

    • Hi YDalia!

      I totally understand what you’re talking about! My periods used to be heavy with a lot of blood clots, too. Some of my periods lasted closer to two months long than 7 days long 🙁
      If this is out of the ordinary for you, it could just be this one cycle. You could either wait to see if your period normalizes during the next cycle or check with your doctor or a clinic.
      I don’t want to scare you, but if it continues to be heavy with clotting, there might be an underlying issue that needs attention from a medical expert.
      For me personally, the doctor found nothing out of the ordinary this time (although issues run in my family) and didn’t suggest anything be done.
      One of my fellow bleeders suggested Yarrow or Raspberry Tea to slow some bleeding. I checked with my doctor if it was okay, and took a half a dose of suggested Yarrow (I opted for capsule form). My periods went down from about six weeks to 11 days. I only take them when I feel it’s needed.
      If a doctor doesn’t find anything out of the ordinary for you, ask about a supplement like Yarrow or Raspberry, as well.
      What ever route you take, I hope it works out for you. I know what you’re going through! Hugs! <3

      *Please remember that we're not here to replace medical advise or care.

  8. I’m 26 yrs old and this month period is quite different than before .When the period had started i could say that there was not need to use the pad for three days but then it is like a normal period and I’m tensed because I had cyst on my ovary but not to worried of and I’m tensed because if that cyst has come back .plz reply soon

    • Your period can change do to many factors, stress included. Normally, I would say not to be too worried about it unless it continues. However, since you have some medical history, I think this question would be best suited for your physician or OB-GYN.
      I’m sorry that I can’t give you a straight answer, as I’m not a doctor.
      Please get it checked out! Good Luck <3

  9. Im 13 and I just got my first period and it lasts 10 days alredy and its not getting anyhing Lighter. What do I do? My while family has their periods for 5 days only

    • Hi There!
      Since you’re only 13, it’s likely that it’s because your body is still trying to balance out your hormones. It may take up to two years for your menstrual cycle to become predictable and regular. So honestly, you can’t really compare yourself to the rest of the family…at least not yet. What’s “normal” for them, may not be “normal” for you.
      For now, your period may switch between a couple/few days of being on the lighter side or even just some spotting, or heavy and long. You might even see some dark brownish blood. ? I know, it sucks that you can’t track it better.
      If it continues, I would see a doctor or visit a clinic. They would be better for your situation.
      <3 Good Luck!!

  10. Hi I’m 28 years. i have a problem with my periods, i have them after 90 days and they last for 30 to 60 days. i had my first period at the age of 17 and this problem started since then.

    • Hi There!

      Wow! First period at 17. Hmm…I’m not a doctor so I can’t say for sure, but normally when a young teen starts their period, it’s not predictable or “regular” until a couple or so years later because their hormones hadn’t balanced. However, you’ve had your period for a little over ten years now so that should have leveled out.
      I would definitely check with a doctor or clinic. There might be something that needs looking into, such as Endometriosis.
      I’m sorry that I can’t do anything for you. I know what it’s like to deal with those very long periods 🙁
      Good Luck <3

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