What Is a Normal Period?

Think about how old you were when you got your first period. Now think about how old you may be when you enter menopause. Your body and life will change a lot from one to the other, right? So does your menstrual cycle.

When it comes to periods, "normal" covers a lot of ground. Use the broad range of factors below as a guide. And remember: The only true normal is what's normal for you.

Timing

Every month, your body prepares to get pregnant. Your ovaries release an egg. Hormones rise and fall.

This is your menstrual cycle. It starts on the first day of your last period and ends on the first day of your next period. Though the average cycle is 28 days long, anything between 21 and 45 days is considered normal. That's a 24-day difference.

For the first year or two after menstruation begins, women tend to have longer cycles that don't start at the same time every month. Older women often have shorter, more consistent cycles.

If you're on birth control pills or have an IUD, it can change the timing of your period. Ask your doctor what's normal for your form of contraception.

How long your period lasts also varies. The time from the first sign of blood to the last is usually in the 3 to 5 day range. Anything from 2 days to a week-long period is normal.

Flow

If the egg your ovary releases every month isn't fertilized, the lining of your uterus sheds through your vagina. This is your period. The amount of blood that comes out of your body is called your menstrual flow.

Whether your flow is light, moderate, or heavy, it's all considered normal.

Symptoms

Some months your breasts may feel tender when you have your period. Other months you may notice bloating around your abdomen or mood swings. Other normal menstruation symptoms include:

  • Acne
  • Cramping in the lower abdomen and back
  • More hunger
  • Sleep issues
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson, MD on July 15, 2017

Sources

SOURCES:

Mayo Clinic: "Menstrual cycle: What's normal, what's not."

Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Menstrual Cycle: An Overview."

Cleveland Clinic: "Menstrual Cycle."

Womenshealth.gov: "Menstruation and the menstrual cycle."

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