Women's Center: Understanding my period

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What's a normal range for my period?

Every woman’s period (menstrual cycle) is different. Some girls get their period as young as age 8 or 9 – while others may not get their period until age 15 or 16. Once you get your period, there are average ranges you can use to help make sure everything’s on track.

How often should I get my period?

Most women can expect to have a period every 21-35 days. This means you’ll get about 11-13 periods each year.

How long should I get my period for?

You start counting the first day you bleed – no matter how light or heavy the bleeding is. Typically, a period last two to seven days. You can usually expect to change your pad or tampon every couple of hours.

If your period seems off, it’s best to talk to your doctor.

What is Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)?

PMS is a variety of physical and emotional symptoms that can appear one to two weeks before your period. But not all women experience PMS.

If you do experience PMS, common symptoms can include:

  • Acne
  • Appetite changes
  • Backache
  • Headache
  • Mood swings
  • Swollen or tender breasts
  • Tiredness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Upset stomach (bloating, constipation or cramping)

How can I alleviate PMS?

Usually PMS stops once your period starts. Here are some things to consider that can help with PMS symptoms:

  • Go for a walk
  • Take an epsom salt bath
  • Take Tylenol/Advil (or generic acetaminophen or ibuprofen)
  • Use a heating pad

Is my period irregular?

Did you recently change your diet? Have a baby? Have you increased exercise? Has your weight changed? Are you experiencing stress? All of these things can affect your period or make it irregular.

There are three common types of irregular periods:

  • Bleeding outside of your usual cycle: This could be intervals of bleeding or spotting that last longer than normal. It could also involve spotting at unexpected times.
  • Absent menstrual bleeding (amenorrhea): This happens if you do not get a period for 90 days or more.
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding: This is excessive bleeding that interferes with your physical, emotional and social quality of life. Heavy bleeding can occur on its own or with other PMS symptoms.

If you do have an irregular period, there may be things you can do to help regulate it. For instance, in addition to helping prevent pregnancy, certain birth control methods often help regulate your period. Remember, talk to your doctor if you think something’s off or if you have concerns.

Ready to schedule an appointment?

You can schedule an appointment at the Women’s Center in St. Louis Park and any of our OB-GYN clinic locations: