2How long does a period last? And does the length of that period have implications for your health? Well, abnormally long or heavy periods can be a sign that you have uterine fibroids. But, since every woman’s body is different, you may wonder: how long does your period last if you’re healthy? Let’s take a closer look.
How Long Does a Period Last: Average Ranges
Of course, every woman’s menstrual cycle is different. Generally speaking, however, your cycle begins on the first day of one period and ends on the first day of the next. This cycle usually lasts between 21 to 35 days.
For the first few years after you get your period, you may have long cycles; these will likely shorten and become more regular as you get older. Your estrogen levels also begin to decline as you age, so it’s not uncommon to experience shorter, lighter and less regular periods even before menopause begins. Barring the natural aging process, here are some changes you should recognize as signs to talk to your doctor.
What the Length of Your Period Means: Shorter Days
A normal period can last from two to seven days, but most women have periods that last three to five days. If your period is very short, it could be a sign that your estrogen levels are low. If you don’t produce enough estrogen, the lining of your womb won’t be very thick so, when it’s time for it to shed, the process won’t take very long.
Your birth control (hormonal or an IUD), weight loss, intense exercise schedule and/or stress could also impact and shorten the length of your period.
Other medications can impact your period, too. Pre-menopausal hormone therapy can affect your cycle. Thyroid medications can affect your period length and your cycle, as can anti-depressants and medications for epilepsy.
What Makes it Longer
If your period lasts longer, hormonal imbalances could also be to blame. Conditions that can cause hormone imbalances include: polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), diabetes and thyroid conditions. Extreme weight gain can also throw off your hormones.
Uterine fibroids (non-cancerous, muscular tumors), can also make your periods longer and heavier, as can polyps, (Small, benign growths on the lining of the uterus).
If your heavy, late period is a one-time thing, it may actually be due to a miscarriage. Uterine and cervical cancers can also make you have heavier than normal periods.
If the cramping lasts longer than 72 hours after it begins, it’s possible that the discomfort you are feeling is not due to your period at all. If you are experiencing cramps but you’re not on your period, this could potentially be a symptom of fibroids or other conditions, and is worth discussing with your doctor.
Finally, some medications can make your periods longer and heavier. Potential culprits include: anti-inflammatories, estrogen and progestin supplements, and anticoagulants such as Warfarin. Even if you’re on a preventative aspirin regimen, that can make your periods longer and heavier.
As always, it’s important to remember that your normal period won’t be identical to your friends’, mom’s or sister’s. But if your personal normal period has changed and your’re concerned, talk to your doctor right away. Then, if fibroids seem to be the problem, we invite you to schedule a consultation with our Houston area fibroid specialists.