Some women get their period every month like clockwork, and they know exactly how long it will last and how heavy their flow will be. Even if your cycle is predictable but veers from its normal schedule once in a while, it’s still considered a normal period. For others, their menstrual cycle is not so regular, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s abnormal.
At New Beginnings OB-GYN, we’ve put together some information to help you understand what a normal period is and what makes an abnormal period.
What a Normal Period Is
A normal period is defined in several different ways.
A normal menstrual cycle happens every 28 days, give or take seven days. So, if you regularly have your period between 21 and 35 days, that is considered normal. The best way to determine the length of your cycle is to count from the last day of your previous to period until the first day of your next period. That is the length of your cycle.
Periods should also last between four and seven days. And, they should happen every month, unless you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. The flow of your period, whether its heavy or light, should be somewhat predictable every month.
What Makes a Menstrual Cycle Abnormal
An abnormal period is a cycle that is different than your usual cycle or one that has never been normal. Signs of an abnormal period include:
- A cycle that lasts less than 21 days or more than 35 days
- Menstrual flow that is noticeably heavier or lighter
- Periods that last longer than seven days
- Missed periods three or more months in a row
- Cycle length that is significantly different every month
Causes of an Abnormal Period
The causes of abnormal periods range from lifestyle issues, such as diet or too much stress, to more serious medical issues. Common causes of abnormal periods include:
Stress is bad all around for your health, but it can affect your period specifically by messing with your hormones.
Excessive exercising alone or combined with dieting
You need a certain amount of body fat to have your period. If you lose a significant amount of weight or body fat with a strenuous exercise routine and also a cut in calories, it could affect your body’s ability to menstruate.
Changes in birth control methods
Whether you’re starting the pill or changing birth control pills, your period may be lighter, shorter, or generally irregular until you’ve taken them for a while.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
This condition can not only affect your period but also your ability to get pregnant. PCOS is a common hormonal disorder, affecting about 10% of women of childbearing age. Symptoms include missed periods, heavy periods, and frequent periods.
This condition, too, is a common one that interferes with the regularity of your period and your ability to get pregnant. Affecting about 11% of women, this common health issue is when the tissue inside your uterus, also called your endometrial tissue, grows outside your uterus, creating blockages and irregular periods.
When you’re young and first getting your period, your body may need several months to settle into a normal routine. And when you’re older and approaching menopause, it’s common for your periods to become irregular before they stop altogether.
Treatment for Abnormal Periods
Some abnormal period issues don’t require treatment unless you’re trying to get pregnant. If your irregular periods are accompanied by pain or are frequently irregular, make an appointment with one of our providers at New Beginnings OB-GYN in Las Vegas, Nevada, for an evaluation.