How Long do Periods Last?

Learn how long a normal period should last and when to call your doctor.

Across the board, our answer is probably “Too Long.” But here’s a quick guide to how long a typical period lasts and what factors can change the length of your period.

How Long Do Women’s Periods Last?When you are trying to figure out long your period ought to be lasting, it can be tricky to find a definitive answer. It is hard to find a good answer because periods can vary so much from woman to woman. If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a hundred times, Every. Single. Woman. is different. Each individual woman has her own unique cycle that may be unusually long, short, heavy, or light. Though there can be some differences between different women, most menstrual cycles follow the same general rhythm, you know, like a really talented marching band.

The Average Length of a Period
A woman’s menstrual cycle lasts all month, but her period is the specific time period that happens when the uterus starts to shed its old lining. The start of the period is marked by a sudden drop in female sex hormones, and then a woman starts to bleed. It ends when the uterus is done shedding its old lining and hormones start to gradually rise again. The average length of a period is somewhere from three to five days. However, there can be some extremes, so it is considered normal for a period to last between two to seven days. Any shorter or longer can be a sign that something is wrong, so you should visit a doctor if this happens to you.

Using Different Period Products Makes a Difference
Even if your cycle is an average length, some women find that their period lasts longer when they choose different feminine hygiene products to deal with their flow. In the early days of a period, a tampon could block a woman’s flow once it had reached full absorbency, and this actually made a period last longer. However, in the very last days of a period, it may end quicker if you are using organic tampons to absorb any lingering drops of blood instead of waiting until it flows out into a pad. Therefore, depending on the type of product you use, you may notice that your period is one day shorter than normal.

Age Changes Period Duration
It is important to note that the average length of time that a period lasts changes depending on a woman’s age. Younger teens who have just started their period tend to have very abnormal cycles, so they often have shorter periods of around two days and then not have another period for up to 45 days. During their period women about to start menopause notice that their periods start to last a longer amount of time. For women in their 40’s and 50’s, it is common for women to start dealing with periods that can last ten or more days. This is often a sign that they are about to start menopause and stop menstruating altogether.

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