You may have asked yourself so many questions about what really happens during menstruation, when a woman enters her puberty. Menstruation is one of the normal body functions that occur in women and it involves numerous symptoms that may make some women raise hairs on the body when they hear about it. In this discussion we are going to share more about this condition including symptoms and ways to deal with them.

What is menstruation or period?

Usually after a girl has reached puberty, roughly one to two years after the development of breasts, periods begins. This bodily function usually begging in girls who have reached the age of 12 to 13 years, but in some cases it can even appear as early as 10 years, depending on the development speed of a girl. The first menstrual period is usually referred to as menarche.

The menstrual cycle usually takes about four weeks long, beginning from the day of bleeding and it ends when the next period begins. However, this cycle can be irregular especially when a girl is starting to have the periods or a woman is entering her menopausal stage. In this case, it can skip some months or come several times per month.

The menstrual discharge usually comes out of the body through the vaginal tract. The uterus is often hollow, pear-shaped organ, which is responsible for maintaining and nourishing the embryo and the baby while it grows during pregnancy.

The vagina acts as a path way through which periods leave the body. During period, you may experience 2 to 3 days of relatively heavy flow followed by 2 to 4 days of lighter flow of blood from the uterus through the vagina. The fluid that is released during the period is made up of uterine lining tissue and blood.

The total amount or fluid released monthly during every flow varies from 4 to 12 teaspoons.

How long does a Period Last

To answer this question you should first know if the period is normal of not. Period usually occur when the uterine wall sheds its lining. As we have said above, part of the menstrual flow is blood and part of the uterus lining referred to as endometrium.

A good number of women may experience their period about 12 to 16 days after ovulation has taken place. A normal menstrual cycle takes 28 days on average, and a normal bleeding should take about 2 to 7 days with 3 to 5 days being average. Remember, these days are made of both heavy and lighter bleeding.

How long does a full menstrual cycle last?

Usually, full menstrual cycle should be counted starting from the first day you start bleeding to the first day the next bleeding will begin. Therefore, it is estimated that the cycle takes 28 days or four complete weeks, with a variation of 21 to 35 days if something is affecting the cycle. There are a number of stages involved in the menstrual cycle. These may include the following:

Stage 1: The follicular phase

This stage usually starts on the first day of the menstruation and ends when your ovulation begins. In this stage, the ovaries produce follicles which then form the housing to the eggs. Due to this, the lining on the uterus will begin to thicken up. Production of estrogen hormones is usually high during this time.

Stage 2: ovulation

At this stage, the mature egg start moving down through the fallopian tube where it will wait for fertilization. If fertilization does not take place in the fallopian tube, the egg will continue to move down into the uterus. This usually happens about two weeks into a woman’s cycle or about midway in the cycle.

Stage 3: the luteal phase

Here, the body maintains its preparation for pregnancy but since the egg was not fertilized, the pregnancy process will not take place. These preparation activities will include an increase in progesterone and a small amount of estrogen hormones. Since the egg was not fertilized, the implantation process will not take place, and therefore the phase ends up as periods. In a 28 day cycle, this phase ends around the 22nd day.

Stage 4: menstruation

In this stage, the thickened uterus lining including the unfertilized egg are both shade off through the vaginal tract. They are then released as woman’s period.

How to tell when a period is irregular

In most cases, at least at some point a woman may experience irregular periods in her life. This condition is very common in young women, and it may include very long periods, during their first few years into the menstruation. Their periods will then stabilize after a period of between one and three years after the beginning of menstruation.

Irregular periods may include periods that are lighter, heavier, come unpredictably, or last longer or shorter than normal. According to some resources, it has been explained that between 12 to 25 percent of women may experience what can be classified as irregular periods.

Therefore, if your period cycle is less than 21 days apart or more than 25 days apart, there could be an underlying condition that makes it irregular. We shall discuss some of the reasons why a period can be irregular below. Irregular periods should be discussed to the doctor.

How long do Period Cramps Last

You can identify a woman suffering from period cramps when she tries to bend in order to deal with the mild ache that is coming from the lower abdomen. Cramps can be so painful to make you so uncomfortable. Cramps usually indicate the beginning of the periods. They usually mean you won’t take long before your periods are due. Cramps are one of the most common signs that your monthly periods are near.

  • For many women, the gramps pains begins the day before or the day your periods will be due, and they can stay for some days, around three days into the period.
  • For some, the pain usually begins on much earlier days than this, roughly a week before, or even more than that.

Some people may wonder if this could be an indication of a problem with their periods, this is not usually the case, although it is good to understand what is normal, and what could be a sign of a problem with your periods.

Why a woman experience period cramps

Cramps are one of the period symptoms that cause women a lot of problem. Most of them find it very hard to alleviate the pain, and therefore when they approach this period, they can’t even imagine of it. Every month the body of a woman prepares an egg to be fertilized. When fertilization does not take place to the egg, the lining of the uterus is expelled. During this process, your uterus contracts so much that it causes pain to your internal abdomen. This is usually due increased muscular contraction.

Period cramps are usually at their worst state during the starting of the period, since this is when these activities of uterine contractions are strongest.

How long does a Period Last on Birth Control

Birth control is one of the reasons why your period can be irregular. It has been noted that when a woman is on the pill, periods usually occur at the end of each pack. These are considered to be the days you take no pills or take your pills in your pack with no or few hormones.  This bleeding is usually very different as compared to the bleeding that occurs if you were not taking any pills. Also, in this case, you may bleed very little or not at all.

What you should know about birth controls

  • The period that occurs while you are using birth control is usually referred to as withdrawal bleeding, and it usually happens when the level of hormones in your birth control drops.
  • The withdrawal bleeding can be either lighter or slightly different from the normal period with no pill.
  • Some women may just experience spotting and not bleeding while they are under birth control
  • Bleeding that occurs while using birth control is likely to change over time.

What usually happens to your period while using birth control?

Different people may respond differently to the birth control depending on which type of birth control one is using, and the body hormones. Therefore, on a typical 21/7 monophasic birth control, bleeding may start on day 2 or 3 of your birth control week and last 3 to 5 days on average. Some few people may experience only one day of bleeding mid-week, and others may have bleeding that extends into their next birth control pack.

Period while using birth control is likely to change in many cases. In people who use 24/4 day pill, about 1 to 2 in 10 had no signs of withdrawal bleeding by the sixth pill pack. Bleeding may also reduce after some time.

How long does your Period Last

If your period is only 1 to 2 days, that can be termed as a short period. A 3 day period is the normal for many women, but it better if it could take about 4 to 5 days long.  A period that takes 6 to 7 days is also considered to okay as well. However, a period that is 8 days and above is very long and it can cause a woman to develop anemia.  Also, abnormal uterine bleeding can result anemia.

When should you see a Doctor

It may be difficult for a woman to differentiate what is normal and what is not normal when it comes to menstrual periods. There are many conditions that can be revealed through your normal monthly period by causing abnormal periods or other symptoms. Therefore, you can talk to your doctor or gynecologist if you experience the following:

  • If you begin to menstruate irregularly on a regular basis without knowing what could be the cause, it is worth getting checked out by your doctor.
  • If your period cycle is less than 21 days apart. This can technically be assumed that you attend two periods in a month, and it usually indicate problems that are associated with your hormones
  • If your menstrual cycle is longer than 35 days apart, or suddenly gets longer or shorter
  • If you are experiencing a heavy flow that causes you to use more than one pad or tampon per hour, you can talk to your doctor immediately. If you naturally bleed heavily, still talk to your doctor so that you can be prescribed to drugs that can reduce that
  • If you get other symptoms such as fever, or hypotension skin rash while you are having period, you can talk to your doctor especially if you are using tampons. These are classified as symptoms associated with toxic shock syndrome, which may need urgent medical attention.
  • See your doctor if you suffer from severe cramps before periods. However, before appointment, you may try using home treatments such as hot bath, rolling hot water in a bottle on your abdomen and drinking hot drinks. This is because heat may help to reduce pain
  • If your period stops suddenly and you are not pregnant, you have a reason to worry. This could be an indication of problems that may affect your fertility, and they should be addressed in the doctor’s office.
  • If you have reached 17 and you have not seen your first period, you should talk to your gynecologist. We are not the same and therefore one girl can get her first period at 9 while the other at 16 years of age. But 17 are considered as to problem signal age which should be addressed to the doctor.

Most doctors especially those who are specialized in this area may help a lot as they have knowledge over this condition. Your doctor can prescribe medication or treatment that will make you feel better. You can discuss all the signs and symptoms you are going through before period, during period and after period to your doctor.

What does a Long Period Mean

Long period is whereby your period runs longer than usual. In some cases, this could be normal due to fluctuation of hormones while in other cases it could be an indication of a serious condition. A normal period may take around seven days with three to four days of heavy bleeding and two to three days lighter bleeding. In some cases, you may have one to two days of heavy and one to two days of lighter bleeding. All these vary from one person to another.

However, there are women who take longer than this, and their bleeding may be involved with heavy flow and longer days of period in this case, you should talk to your doctor.

Why Periods Last Longer than Normal

We have shared above the normal days a woman should take in between her period. However, there are few things that could make a woman not to experience her period normally. Here are a few possible reasons a woman might notice longer than average or shorter than usual periods and what she can do about the case.

  1. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

This is an underactive or overactive thyroid, and other conditions that affect the levels of sex hormone, and they can cause long, heavy, or irregular periods. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms on your period, you can visit an endocrinologist to find out if you are suffering from this condition.

  1. Certain medications

There are some medications that do not go well with your normal menstrual period. For example, thyroid, steroids, and antipsychotics medications are some of the drugs that can mess up with the hormone levels. In case you are using any of these drugs and you realize issues with your period, you can talk to your doctor about it. Some of these medications include birth controls.

  1. Increased weight

Weight has been found to be one of the reasons why some women experience a longer than normal period. Increased body fats may lead to higher estrogen levels, which make periods longer and heavier.

  1. stress

Stress is also mentioned in many researches as one of the major reasons why periods last longer than normal. Stress can cause irregular period or cause the period to stop all together. In some cases, it makes period longer or heavier or leads to mid-cycle bleeding. You realize any change in your period after any stressful event; you may need to share this with your mental health professional to get some help.

  1. Exposure to environmental estrogens

Longer periods are known to occur due to dominance of estrogen over progesterone hormones in the body, as per some sources. Therefore, estrogen that exists outside the body, like those found in plastics, or pesticides, or meat with added hormones, can affect your period. Therefore, make sure your diet has high fiber, which prevent more estrogen from being absorbed, and avoid produce that have pesticides and any hormone content.

More references

  1. All about menstruation: https://teens.webmd.com/girls/all-about-menstruation#1
  2. How long should a period last: https://menstrualcupreviews.net/how-long-should-a-period-last/
  3. How long does your period last: https://www.healthline.com/health/how-long-does-your-period-last
  4. What is normal about period cramps: https://www.avogel.co.uk/health/pms/pms-cramps-what-is-normal/
  5. Birth control and your period: https://medium.com/clued-in/birth-control-and-your-period-the-pill-55c5579d542d