As a patient of mine said, “Irregular periods suck!”
Most girls will start their menstrual periods around 11 to 14 years old. You would think once this rite of passage into “teendom” starts it would come every month, right? In a perfect world, periods arrive every 28 days and last 2-3 days without cramps, but this may not be your story.
A menstrual period or cycle is counted from the first day of bleeding in one month to the first day of bleeding in the next month or whenever you get that next period. Irregular periods can be the norm for many lasting a couple years after your menstrual cycles officially begins. It may take a few years for your period to become regular.
What’s typical with a menstrual cycle?
- Age of onset at 11-12 years old ranging from 8 years old to 14 years old
- Average frequency is 32 days but 21-45 days is considered normal
- Length of menstruation is typically 2-7 days
- Normal blood flow requires 3-6 pads or tampons per day
How do you know if you have abnormal periods?
It can be confusing during your teen years when your periods are coming every three to six months or once a year. If you notice that your periods are coming frequently (less than every 21 days) or infrequently (greater than every 45 days), you should contact your health care provider to discuss reasons why this might be happening. When your periods come less often, they tend to be heavier, last longer, and with more painful cramping.
Reasons to Have Irregular Periods
- Thyroid and other Hormonal disorders
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
- Excessive Exercising
- Sudden Weight Changes
- Physical or Emotional stress
- Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
You can download a period tracker on your smart phone or use a calendar to keep track of your periods.
Why is normal nice?
No matter what your mom or girlfriends tell you, having monthly periods tells us that you are hormonally balanced. Whether you call it “Aunt Flo”, “Strings Attached,” or “Sharks are Circling”, regular periods are best for you both, physically and emotionally.
Cover image courtesy of Shutterstock.