Have you ever wondered if your period is normal? If so, you’re not alone. There are wide variations in what is considered “normal”, making this question a common one. This article will address some of the most common questions asked about menstruation.
Why do women have a period?
Your period is a result of changes that occur in a cyclical fashion in your ovaries and uterus. Every month, an egg is released from one of your ovaries (known as ovulation). The ovary also makes hormones, first estrogen and then, after ovulation, estrogen and progesterone. The lining of your uterus responds to these hormones by changing in preparation for pregnancy. If the egg that is released by your ovary is not fertilized, the lining of the uterus is shed. The shedding of this lining is what is known as menstruation or your period.
When will I get my period?
You might be concerned if others you know have started menstruating and you have not. This is rarely cause for alarm – some young women are simply late bloomers. Most girls (90%) begin menstruating between the ages of 11 and 14, but some girls may be younger or older than this. If you haven’t started menstruating by age 16, a visit to your physician is warranted.
How often should I get my period?
Doctors count the interval from the first day of your period until the first day of your next period. Menstrual cycles can vary from 21 days to 35 days; not every woman has a 28 day cycle. Some women are very regular, while others are very irregular and never know when their period might start.
How many days should a period last?
A normal period can last anywhere from 2 days to 7 days and may be very heavy or quite light. Length of period and amount of flow can vary widely between women. If your period is very heavy, requiring changes in protection every hour, or lasts longer than 7 days, you should see your physician.
Is it important to track my menstrual cycles?
Absolutely! By keeping track of your periods, you will be easily able to tell if there is a sudden change in your menses. You will also be able to tell if you’re pregnant- you’d be surprised at the number of women who can’t remember when the had their last period! You may also want to track any other symptoms that occur along with your period, such as:
- Increased cramping/pain
- Increased heaviness of flow
- Bleeding between periods
- Breast changes/pain
- Skipping a period
- Other symptoms such as headache, irritability, severe bloating
You can use a calendar to track your periods, or you can use one of many apps now available.
This is the first in a series of articles that will discuss menstruation, and issues affecting menstruation. If you have other questions about women’s reproductive health, please visit our blog.
Learn more about Period Irregularity.
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To learn more about your period and its regularity, please contact the West Coast Women’s Reproductive Center.