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Signs and Symptoms of Normal and Abnormal Periods

Is My Period Normal?


Updated August 13, 2014

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From time to time, every women suspects that her menstrual cycle is abnormal for one reason or another. However, often what we think is an abnormal period is actually normal menstruation. How do you know when you're experiencing abnormal periods? What are the signs and symptoms of abnormal periods? You may be experiencing an abnormal period, abnormal uterine bleeding, or an abnormal menstrual cycle if...

  • your menstrual cycle is longer than 21 to 35 days apart, or less than two weeks from day one of your period to day one of your next period.
  • you need to change tampons or sanitary pads after only one or two hours.
  • your period lasts longer than 7 days.
  • you suddenly begin experiencing severe menstrual cramps. While it's normal to experience a small amount of cramping during your period and some women never experience cramps during menstruation, it's not normal to experience severe menstrual cramps. If you suddenly begin having severe cramps you should be evaluated by your health care provider to determine the cause of the increased pain you experience during your period.
  • you see blood clots which are actually clots of tissue in your menstruation -- don't worry, this is a normal occurrence and is no cause for alarm. Blood clots such as these are perfectly normal because menstruation involves the shedding of the lining of the uterus.
  • you have recently experienced the onset of menstruation, don't worry if you skip periods or have irregular periods for the first few years. This is a normal process that most young ladies experience.
  • you're extremely active in sports activities, periods are often skipped for long periods of time. Nobody is sure why this occurs, but it's a normal occurrence for many women who regularly participate in intense sports or other activities.
  • you're a woman who is postmenopausal or younger than eleven should see a doctor immediately if you experience any amount of vaginal or uterine bleeding.
  • you are over 16 and haven't had a period yet. In this case your health care provider should be consulted to determine the cause. One possibility that you should be sure and ask about is polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS.

Things to Remember About Menstruation

  • Normal menstrual bleeding lasts about 5 days.
  • The normal amount of blood lost during menstruation is about 2 to 8 tablespoons, although it may seem like more than that.
  • The average menstrual cycle is 28 days from Day 1 to Day 1 of your period. However, anywhere from 21 to 35 days between periods is considered a normal menstrual cycle.

The best thing to do when you suspect that you're experiencing abnormal bleeding or menstrual cycles is to consult with your health care provider.

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