A common question women and young girls have around their monthly period is around how many days of each month they can expect to bleed. We are talking consistency today and how much this can vary from woman-to-woman, while also “shedding” light on how long the shedding of your uterine lining should take place in typical circumstances.
Typical reports of menstruation can last from one to seven days. The average lasts 3-5 days of bleeding. It's important to mention that these are averages and generalizations and can always be bounced against your OBGYN or other medical professional’s advice for your specific body type and unique lifestyle. If your period is a couple days longer or shorter than the average three to five days, it doesn’t need to be a cause for fear and worry. Your cycle will be as unique as you are ultimately, with similarities of symptoms across the board.
This is because there are different factors that can affect the length of your period, including but not limited to, lifestyle changes, birth control methods, and certain medical conditions.
While you may bleed a little longer than most 3-5-day intervals, bleeding beyond 7 days – particularly HEAVY MENSTRUATION – does call for a visit to the doctor. It is also possible that you are within the 3-5-day range, however, you bleed a great deal during those intervals. Here are some signs that you may be hemorrhaging heavy:
- Soaking through one or more tampons or pads every hour for several hours in a row
- Placing more than one pad at a time to absorb high quantities of blood.
- Having to swap out products during sleeptime due to excess absorption.
- Noticing blood clots that are a quarter-in-size or larger.
While the above could be symptoms of just a heavy flow, there are also certain medical conditions that are a red flag as well. These issues, like endometrial polyps or uterine fibroids, can certainly affect the duration and the flow of your cycle. Because your period blood is made up of shed uterine lining (called the endometrium), as well as blood from the little vessels that are exposed after the lining sheds, these pelvic-centric diagnoses are clearly affected during the menstrual process. Thickness of the endometrium and even the quantity of blood vessels can vary greatly. In addition, other conditions could be hypothyroidism, ectopic pregnancies or untimely miscarriages, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) and even uterine cancer.
Menarche is that timeframe where young girls first experience the onset of their cycle. These first few cycles can be unpredictable and vary as the body grows into a routine for shedding and ovulating each month. Between hormones and lifestyle, it may take some time for a younger girl’s periods to become consistent enough to track. Still, we recommend tracking them so that if there is any concern, a doctor can see what has taken place and when in previous months.
On the other side of the coin, the final months of menstruation and reproduction typically happens in the 40s or 50s for many women. This is when they enter a time known as “perimenopause” where once again, hormonal imbalances recur and irregular periods may be the norm. With less estrogen and less uterine lining to shed, women will typically report lighter and shorter cycles than they were used to for decades prior. This, too, can and should be considered tracked so that it can be discussed with your health professional.
All in all, whether it is your diet, age, or medical conditions (especially certain prescriptions that affect your body), you can expect some differences in your cycles compared to that of other women. Just be sure to keep track and to let your provider know when you are concerned you are bleeding too little or too much.