We hear this question quite frequently: is my menstrual cycle normal?
Since every single woman is unique, and we love that, it is hard to define “normal.” Most of the time we talk more about what is “average” rather than normal to help women understand if their cycle falls within average parameters.
An Average Cycle
The first day of your period or menstrual cycle until the first day of your next one, is what is known as your cycle. Although the average is between 25 to 30 days, it can be anywhere between 21 and 35 days. Average days to bleed is 2 to 7 days. Anything within these ranges is considered “normal.”
The average age to begin having periods is age 12, but girls can begin as early as age 8 or as late as age 16. Menopause is normally age 51 when a woman stops producing eggs.
These parameters can change over your lifetime and still be considered average.
What Makes A Cycle Irregular
Let’s be clear that an irregular cycle does not mean there is something wrong. Being irregular is quite common at the beginning of a young girl’s period as well as when you near menopause.
Your period can be light or heavy, short or long, painful or pain free and still be considered “normal.” Bleeding longer or having unpredictable periods is usually not serious, but should be noted.
It is recommended that you begin early in life to keep track of your cycle. Changes do not usually mean there is a problem but it helps to know your “normal” to help you notice changes or red flags.
Obviously missing a period or two could mean you are pregnant so follow up with Birmingham Obstetrics & Gynecology.
You can also miss a period due to hormonal changes, illness, meds, using the pill, patch, or hormonal IUD to name a few.
In addition, excessive exercise, stress, taking the morning after pill, quickly losing or gaining weight, or the beginning of menopause can cause you to miss a period.
If you have irregular periods a lot of the time, this could be a medical issue.
Other situations which may indicate a problem include the following:
- Needing to change a pad or tampon too frequently due to heavy bleeding
- Being lightheaded or dizzy during your period
- If you are 16 and have not yet gotten your period
- Bleeding between periods
- When PMS prevents you from enjoying normal activities
- Severe pain before or during your period
It is important to discuss with Birmingham Obstetrics & Gynecology anything out of the ordinary, and what your typical cycle is like. Many women think it is normal to bleed heavily and have severe pain every period. To them, this IS normal, but it could be something else like uterine fibroids.