A question I get asked by patients all the time is “What is a normal period?” It’s such a great question, and really illuminates the fact that we aren’t educated on what is and isn’t normal when it comes to menstruation. Everyone deserves this knowledge, so I want to tell you what I tell my patients.
A normal period is
- no longer than 7 days
- accompanied by no more than mild cramping
- preceded by minimal or no PMS symptoms
- no more than 80 ml of menstrual blood loss
- if clots are present, they are no larger than a 25-cent coin
The parameter that I receive the most questions about is menstrual blood loss – it can be tricky to know whether you’re exceeding 80 ml. The most important thing to remember is this: If your menstrual blood loss is interfering with your quality of life, a conversation with a healthcare provider is absolutely warranted.
The menstrual cup and menstrual disc are typically the easiest methods for quantifying menstrual blood loss, as they hold a set volume of blood and often have measurement lines. If you prefer to use pads or tampons, here are some guidelines:
- you should not need to change your pad/tampon more often than every 3 hours
- you should not need to use more than 20 pads/tampons per cycle
- you should seldom need to change your pad/tampon during the night
Heavy periods can operate on different timelines for different people – they can continue all throughout your menstruating years, they can dominate your first few menstruating years as an adolescent and then lighten, they can come on for the first time in your 40s during perimenopause… No matter where you are in your menstruating years, if you’re experiencing heavy periods please know there are options available to support you.
I meet so many menstruators who have struggled through their periods for years. Sometimes they have sought help and had their symptoms dismissed. Sometimes they have no idea that their period experience is not normal because they have never been told what normal is or because other menstruators in their family have periods similar to theirs.
You shouldn’t have to put your life on hold for a week every month.
You shouldn’t have to feel nervous leaving your home on your period for fear of a flooding event.
You shouldn’t have to wear two types of period products just to feel confident going to work.
You shouldn’t have to spend an entire day in the bathtub or curled up in bed with a hot water bottle because your cramps are so painful.
You deserve better support. I am here to help.
If you’re struggling through your periods, if your PMS symptoms are impacting your quality of life, if you’re concerned that you aren’t ovulating regularly, book a free 15 minute meet & greet and let’s figure this out together.
**Please remember that this article is meant for educational purposes only and should not be viewed as medical advice. You should always discuss any treatment option with a licensed healthcare provider to ensure it will be safe and effective for you.
Kaunitz, AM. (2022). Abnormal uterine bleeding in nonpregnant reproductive-age patients: Terminology, evaluation, and approach to diagnosis. UpToDate. Accessed June 24, 2022. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/abnormal-uterine-bleeding-in-nonpregnant-reproductive-age-patients-terminology-evaluation-and-approach-to-diagnosis
Munro MG, Critchley HOD, Fraser IS; FIGO Menstrual Disorders Committee. The two FIGO systems for normal and abnormal uterine bleeding symptoms and classification of causes of abnormal uterine bleeding in the reproductive years: 2018 revisions [published correction appears in Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2019 Feb;144(2):237]. Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2018;143(3):393-408. doi:10.1002/ijgo.12666