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Millions of women have doubts as to whether or not they should be worried about their menstrual cycle. The problem is that it’s difficult to know if something is wrong if you’re not sure what’s considered normal.
Listed below are some of the most common areas of concern women have regarding their periods, and what’s considered normal and not normal for each one. If you experience anything that falls into the abnormal category, or if you’re unsure about something, consult with your doctor.
Normal: The average woman bleeds for three to five days, although the normal range is considered two to seven days. Some spotting beyond seven days is also considered normal.
Not Normal: Heavy flow beyond seven days isn’t normal.
Menstrual Cycle Length
Normal: While the average length of time between menstrual cycles is 28 days, cycles as short as 21 days and as long as 35 days are also normal. Menstrual cycles tend to shorten and become more regular as you get older.
A slight variation in the length of your cycles, such as going from a 28-day cycle one month to a 31-day cycle the next, is normal.
Not Normal: A menstrual cycle much longer than 35 days or much shorter than 21 days is considered abnormal. Large variations in cycle length are also abnormal. For example, going from a 21-day long cycle to a 35-day long one, isn’t normal.
Normal: The average woman releases less than a cup of blood but many women experience some heavy bleeding. A heavier flow during the first few days of your cycle is normal. Passing small, tissue-like clots on the first couple of days is also normal.
Light bleeding is often seen in women nearing perimenopause, as well as those using hormonal birth control methods.
Not Normal: A flow that requires you to change your pad or tampon more than every hour or two isn’t normal. Severe blood loss during periods could be from menorrhagia, a condition that interferes with the ability to perform everyday activities.
On the other hand, abnormally light periods could also be an indicator of certain autoimmune disorders or other medical conditions. Passing clots the size of a golf ball or larger is abnormal.
Normal: Mild cramping is normal and occurs in about 50% of women. It’s especially common the day before and the first day of your period.
Not Normal: Severe cramping that makes it difficult for you to function is abnormal. Getting cramps outside of your period isn’t normal either.
Severe, disabling cramps felt in the lower abdomen can indicate a more serious health problem called endometriosis.
Spotting Between Periods
Normal: Some women experience light spotting during ovulation or around the time when the embryo would be implanting itself into the uterine lining (around seven days after ovulation). Spotting during these times is normal.
Not Normal: Spotting that occurs throughout your cycle, or heavy bleeding in between periods, isn’t considered normal.
Normal: Food cravings, mood swings, irritability, mild headaches, bloating and difficulty sleeping are all normal period symptoms.
Not Normal: While slight mood swings are common, serious depression and manic states aren’t normal period symptoms.
The normal guidelines given above apply to the general population, but it’s important that you take the time to learn about your personal menstrual cycle so you’ll be better able to understand what’s normal for you.
Have concerns about your period? To set up an appointment, visit us online or call Contemporary Women’s Care today at (407) 478-6249 (OBGYN) for our Winter Park location. For our Lake Nona location, call (407) 476-0200.