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. MY period started in august and I was 11 then but now I’m twelve. In September, It had only lasted 2-3 days, but all of a sudden my period is going on and it has been 7 days and it is still pretty heavy. Is it because I just started using tampons , because this is freaking me out

    • Hi There!
      Since you’re only 12, 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.
      For now, it 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.
      Tampons most likely didn’t cause your period to get heavier or long, but some do believe that the cleaning and bleaching chemicals used when making tampons may be harmful. There are organic tampons if you’re worried about this. You can also look into Menstrual Cups and/or reusable cloth pads.
      <3 Good Luck!!

  2. mine dont feel normal at all anymore, i dont even know when i started or how long ive been on it, i’m worried and scared, ive also been having these weird feelings in my stomach, and my period feels like its never gonna stop like it should on a certain day, i feel like its gonna keep going

    • I would suggest consulting with a gynecologist or even your primary care provider. They can assist you better. If things are that different from YOUR “normal”, then it could be a sign that something’s not right.

      I had one year that I bled almost every single day and it was heavy enough to make me feel faint, dizzy and tired. I had large clots as well. They gave me some birth control to “reset” my cycle but that didn’t help. After that, they gave me a high dose of progesterone for two days and it finally stopped.

      I can’t say that that’s what’s happening for you, but you never know what they’ll say or do. However, they’re better at assisting you with situations like these.

      I wish you luck and good health!

  3. I use to flow for like 5 days before but now I flow 3 days and it’s not as heavy as before, Please what could be wrong ? Is it a normal and what should I do about it.

    • Hi Anabel!

      First of all, if you just started your period within the last couple of years, 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.

      If you’re older, here are some things that can cause your period to be short or get even shorter:

      Low weight, excessive exercising, eating disorders, and stress. If anything in your life has changed that you have anxieties over, it could be the reason. However since I’m not a doctor, I can’t tell you for sure. If you’re still experiencing short periods, you may want to visit your gynecologist to see if there might be anything to worry about. You may have low Estrogen levels which are making your periods shorter.
      Good Luck!

    • I use to flow for like 5 days before but now I flow 2-3 days and it’s not as heavy as before, Please what could be wrong ? Is it a normal and what should I do about it.

  4. I’ve been getting my period for only 2 days from when I first got it since got it in may and it was thick the last couple of months but stil lasted 2 days and when I got it this month it only lasted 2 days and I’m 13 please rb

    • 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.
      For now, it may be on the lighter side or even just some spotting. You might even see some dark brownish blood.
      <3 Hugs

  5. Pls am 33-year-old my menstruation do flow 3-4 days but for 3months now it has gone down to 2dys not married no control pills pls am scared what do i do

    • Hi Florence,
      I know it’s been a while since you left this comment, but here are some things that can cause your period to be short or get even shorter:

      Low weight, excessive exercising, eating disorders, and stress. If anything in your life has changed that you have anxieties over, it could be the reason. However since I’m not a doctor, I can’t tell you for sure. If you’re still experiencing short periods, you may want to visit your gynecologist to see if there might be anything to worry about. You may have low Estrogen levels which are making your periods shorter.
      Good Luck!

  6. 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…

    • 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

  7. 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.

    • 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

  8. 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

    • 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

1 2 3 4

Leave a Reply to Chichi Cancel reply