Are my periods normal?

As an OB/GYN, I frequently see patients who are worried about whether they are experiencing abnormal bleeding. Abnormal uterine bleeding is a common problem, but its definition can vary from woman to woman.

A normal menstrual cycle can varies from 21 to 35 days long, with bleeding lasting between three to five days. Your period may change often when you are young, ages 13 to 18, and when you are approaching menopause in your 40s due to changes in hormone levels. However, if you are a woman in your twenties or thirties, your periods will roughly follow the same pattern.

Day one of the menstrual cycle is the same for every woman; it is the first day of your period. After day one, however, every woman may have a different cycle. For some women, it is normal to bleed for four days, then have 22 days without bleeding. For others, it may be only 17 days without bleeding or even up to 30 days.

The amount of bleeding is also different for every woman. Bleeding is considered to be heavy if it lasts longer than seven days or if it soaks one tampon or pad in an hour or two for several consecutive hours. If the amount of bleeding causes you to be unable to perform your normal daily activities, you should speak to your gynecologist.

Keep track of your cycle to understand what a normal period is for you so in the future you can recognize abnormal bleeding. You can also follow these general guidelines to know when you should see your physician about abnormal periods:

  • You experience bleeding for more than 7 days.
  • You experience heavy bleeding or bleeding that is heavier than usual.
  • You bleed between periods.
  • Your period suddenly changes from its normal cycle.
  • You don’t have your period for more than 90 days.
  • Your menstrual cycle is shorter than 21 days or longer than 35 days.
  • You have severe cramps or pain during your period.

-By Lenny Laureta-Bansil, DO

About Dr. Laureta-Bansil – Lenny Laureta-Bansil, DO, received her medical degree from Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine. She went on to complete her OB/GYN residency at State University of New York, Sisters of Charity Hospital.

Dr. Bansil is certified in fundamentals of laparoscopic surgery (FLS) and da Vinci robotic surgical system. She has participated in several research studies and is a member of the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists, American College of Osteopathic Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Urogynecologic Society and American Osteopathic Association. Additionally, Dr. Bansil was a recipient of the 2012 AUGS Award for excellence in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery and the 2013 AAGL Special Resident in Minimally Invasive Gynecology award.

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