What’s normal in your menstrual cycle when you’re 20 is different than when you’re 30, 40, or 50. This summary will answer your “what is a normal period?” questions, and help you see if the flow and duration of your period is normal or not.
Have you heard of the menstrual cup? The The Diva Cup is a reusable, bell-shaped menstrual cup that is worn internally. It rests low in the vaginal canal, and collects menstrual flow instead of absorbing it in a pad or tampon. Menstrual cups have existed since the 1930s, when women were searching for ways to stay fresh during their periods. The Diva Cup won’t normalize your period or monthly cycle, but it is a great alternative to tampons and pads.
Since every woman’s period cycle is different, what’s normal for me isn’t what’s normal for you. It may be normal for my period to last three days, and for me to get my period every five weeks. A typical period cycle is 28 days, but there is lots of variation from woman to woman. Plus, your periods change as you age and experience changes in hormones for different reasons. This makes it difficult to figure out what is a normal period cycle for all women, but you can (and should!) learn what’s normal for your body.
If you don’t have a normal period cycle, read What to Eat for a Normal Menstrual Cycle. Of course, the reason your periods aren’t normal has a huge effect on whether food can regulate your cycle. If your periods are irregular because of endometriosis or fibroids, then all the vitamin B12 and Omega-3 fish oils in the world aren’t going to give you a normal period cycle.
What is a Normal Period Cycle?
5 Foods That Make Your Menstrual Cycle Regular has been one of my most popular articles for years. Readers ask me so many questions about their periods, such as “How do I regulate my cycle?” and “Are my periods normal?” and “Why have I missed a period in my cycle, which is usually normal?”
I can’t answer those questions. Even if I was a doctor, I couldn’t tell you if your irregular periods are caused by a serious health issue or what you should eat to get a normal period cycle. There may be things going on inside your body that are impossible to discern over the internet.
The best way to find solutions to menstrual problems – especially if you know you don’t have a normal period cycle – is to talk to a gynecologist in person. Get your pap smear, physical checkup, and ultrasound if necessary. Never rely on the internet to give you more than information.
The information in this article will help you learn what a normal period cycle is…
Normal periods for women in their teens and 20s
The bad news is that teenagers and women in their early 20s don’t have a regular menstrual cycle. When you’re a teen, your period is random, irregular, and crampy. Your first period happens anywhere from age 10-14, and could be anywhere from one to five days long.
Typically, a young woman’s reproductive system takes about 10 to 12 years to mature. This means that women in their teens and 20s may not know what a normal period cycle is for them, because their hormones are still regulating themselves.
Since painful cramps are a normal part of a young woman’s period cycle, learning natural remedies for premenstrual (PMS) symptoms is an essential part of happy living. Some women have to schedule their work and social life around their periods, because the cramps and other PMS symptoms are so bad.
What causes period cramps?
Menstrual cramps are related to higher pressure inside the uterus, because the muscle of the uterine wall contracts with flow. Younger women who haven’t been pregnant or worn an IUD (intrauterine device) have a tighter cervix; this generates more cramps and greater pressure.
Period cramps may lighten up for women in their 30s, even if they haven’t had babies or worn IUDs. Their hormone levels decrease as they age – younger women have lower estrogen and higher progesterone. That hormonal environment encourages prostaglandins, which are fatty acids that promote uterine contractions and cramping.
Part of learning what a normal period cycle is involves knowing what’s happening with your hormones.
What causes missed periods?
If you’re not pregnant, you’ll skip a period because of stress from a major life change, illness, or an eating disorder. Or, you may not be eating enough calories or protein (you’re underweight). If you’re a thin, active teenage or 20 year old woman, then a light period cycle is normal.
There are some natural remedies for spotty or skipped periods. Read 8 Natural Ways to Regulate Periods by Balancing Hormones to learn more.
Normal periods for women in their 30s
Many woman experience their most normal period cycles when they’re in their 30s, because their hormones are settling into predictable patterns. I was definitely at my most regular when I was in my 30s, and I’m getting very irregular periods now that I’m 45.
Normal PMS symptoms during this period cycle include moodiness, sore breasts, food cravings, bloating, and sleep problems. PMS cramps aren’t as bad for women in this age range, but they still exist. Ibuprofen not only relieves painful period cramps, but also reduces menstrual flow. If your periods are heavy, take ibuprofen at the start of ovulation to prevent prostaglandins from forming. I take acetaminophen for my PMS symptoms because I have ulcerative colitis, and I can’t take ibuprofen.
What causes heavy periods?
What is a normal period cycle without a heavy period once in a while? Occasional heavy periods are caused by not ovulating during that cycle, or even an early miscarriage. You may not even have known you were pregnant.
Endometriosis can also cause heavy, crampy periods in an otherwise normal cycle. Endometriosis is more common in women over 30, and doesn’t necessarily require surgery or prescription medications. Menopause can resolve endometriosis, because causes estrogen levels to fall.
To learn more about endometriosis (which isn’t part of a normal period cycle), read Endometriosis as a Cause of Painful Periods.
Normal periods for women in their 40s
Perimenopause will affect what was a normal period cycle for you in your 30s. Perimenopause lasts six to ten years, and precedes menopause (which is lack of a menstrual cycle for one year).
Normally, women in their 40s will have an irregular period cycle. Their periods may show up every three weeks, or every six weeks. Then their period cycle may go back to “normal” (the way it was in their 30s). Premenstrual symptoms often get worse for women in their 40s, and some months could be worse than others (which is why there is no typical answer to the “what is a normal period cycle?” question, even for the same woman!).
Normal periods for women in their 50s
Age 51 is the average for women, which means many women are still getting their periods well into their 50s. Some women no longer have a period cycle (normal or not) before their 50th birthday, while others get their period until they’re closer to 60 years old.
Pay attention to your menstrual cycle and your body when you’re in your 50s. If you stopped getting your period for 12 months and then suddenly started bleeding, talk to your family doctor or gynecologist. This is called a “rogue period” and could indicate cancer of the endometrium.
What is NOT part of a normal period cycle for women of all ages
No matter how old you are, these are indications that you aren’t getting a normal period…
A sexually transmitted disease (STD) can cause pain during your period or even when you’re not menstruating. Pelvic inflammatory disease can also cause pain in what is typically a normal period cycle, as can irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or endometriosis.
Cervical polyps can cause spotting between periods. Cervical polyps are usually benign, easily detected in pelvic exams by family doctors or gynecologists, and easily removed by surgeons.
Super heavy periods
Adenomyosis occurs when the uterine lining grows into the muscular wall of the uterus; it causes very painful, prolonged, heavy periods. Adenomyosis is not the same as endometriosis, and is especially common in women who’ve had C-sections. Uterine fibroids can cause flooding, which is a heavy, gushing flow that is sometimes accompanied by blots. Fibroids are benign growths in the uterus that are most common in your 40s.
I welcome your thoughts on normal period cycles and irregular menstruation below. I can’t offer advice, but it may help you to share your experience.
Take care of your body, and learn what’s normal for your monthly periods. The more familiar you are with your body, the healthier you’ll be through the ages!