Is my period normal?
If you're in a rush but don't wanna miss out, here's a quick summary especially for you:
- The normal adult period length when not using birth control is 8 days or less
- Birth control, such as the pill, or IUD often make period cycles shorter & lighter
- The average blood loss per period cycle is 10 to 35 mL
- Standard size pads/tampons usually hold 5mL of blood or menstrual fluid
- Losing over 80 mL of blood per period is considered heavy menstrual bleeding
- The normal adult period length is 8 days or less
- Birth control often makes cycles shorter & lighter
- The average blood loss per cycle is 10 to 35 mL
- Standard size disposables usually hold 5mL of blood
- Losing over 80mL of blood is considered heavy bleeding
What is a 'normal' period? Does it even exist? Our bodies are all so different and so the rate that we flow at, and the length that we bleed for, varies among us. There are standard guidelines that most professionals tend to go by when considering if your period is 'healthy', and we'll sum them up here. Your period can be an important indicator of your health, so it’s important to know what’s 'normal' for you. That means how often your period happens, how light or heavy it is, and how long it lasts.
Timing - Should my period start at the exact same time every month?
Every month, your body prepares to get pregnant. Your ovaries release an egg, and hormones rise and fall (hold this responsible for your monthly mood swings and cravings for choc!).
This is your menstrual cycle. It starts on the first day of your last period, and ends on the first day of your next period. The average cycle is 28 days long, but anything between 21 and 45 days is considered normal. For the first year or two after menstruation begins, women tend to have longer cycles that don't start at the same time each month. For older women, cycles tend to become shorter, and more consistent.
If you're on birth control pills, or have an IUD (a small device fitted inside your uterus to prevent pregnancy) fitted, it can change the timing of your period. Your doctor should be able to tell you what's normal for the type of contraception you are using.
How long your period lasts may also vary, and anything from three to five days is considered average. However, anything from two days to one week, is still considered normal.
FLUX Top Tip: To keep track of your menstrual cycle and estimate period due dates, we recommend using an app tracker such as Flo Period Tracker, or if you're a pen and paper kinda gal, you can always buy a calendar and jot your dates down each month.
Volume - How much should I bleed? Is it normal to bleed very heavily?
If the egg your ovary releases every month isn't fertilised, the lining of your uterus sheds through your vagina. This is your period, and the amount of blood that comes out of your body is called your menstrual flow. It can be tricky to work out exactly how much menstrual fluid leaves our bodies each month, but depending on the volume of fluid, most people will class their menstrual flow as light, medium, or heavy.
Normal size pads & tampons hold 5mL, so you can work out how much you bleed during your cycle, by keeping note of how many pads and/or tampons you use throughout. If you are repeatedly soaking through a pad or tampon every two hours, this is considered heavy menstrual bleeding, and whilst this can be perfectly normal for your body, you should bring this to your doctors attention (we just like to make sure, ya know!).
What's the average blood loss per cycle, for adults?
For adults that are not using birth control, a period will usually last up to 8 days and an average blood loss per cycle is between 5 and 35 mL, however, it is normal to lose between 5 and 80mL of blood. Losing over 80mL of blood is considered heavy menstrual bleeding.
The heaviest days of bleeding are usually at the beginning of the period cycle (first and second day), and during the heaviest days of your period you may notice clumps or clots of blood, which is totally normal.
The colour of your menstrual fluid may also change during your cycle, appearing bright red at the beginning of your cycle and during your heaviest days, and darker blood towards the end of your cycle, when your flow is usually lighter.
What if I am using birth control?
Birth control methods such as the pill, coil, or patch control the release and regulation of hormones within your body. This prevents your body from preparing and releasing eggs, and stops you from getting pregnant.
Your period will change depending on the type of birth control you use, and bleeding will typically happen during your 'no hormone days', when you are taking placebo pills (designed to allow your body to have a period, but keeping you in the habit of taking your pills), or having your patch/IUD changed. The bleeding that you experience whilst using birth control is considered to be 'withdrawal bleeding', rather than menstrual bleeding.
When affected by hormonal birth control, the lining of your uterus doesn't thicken as much as it does without hormonal birth control. This typically results in lighter, shorter, or absent periods - this is normal.
What is the average blood loss per cycle, for adolescents?
Like adults, adolescent periods can be up to 80mL, but are often lighter than this. It is common for periods to be irregular for a few years after your first period, and the timing and volume of your period can vary greatly during the first few years. As you progress into adult stages, your period will become more regular and consistent, however, they can still vary.
FLUX Top Tip:If you are a heavy bleeder, we recommend visiting your doctor to make sure that this is normal for you. To manage your flow, we recommend using our heavy lined period underwear, which are perfect for heavy bleeders, and can be worn alone for up to 12 hours. Shop FLUX period-proof undies here.
Symptoms - Are the symptoms that I experience normal?
When you have a period, the lining of the uterus breaks down and leaves the body through the vagina. This has a range of effects on your reproductive system and other organs, often resulting in period 'symptoms'.
Not every girl or woman will experience the same pre menstrual symptoms, however, common symptoms of your period include:
- Breast swelling or tenderness
- Bloating or feeling full
- Breaking out in spots
- Leg, back, or stomach cramps
- Rapid changes in mood
- Tiredness and feeling weak
These symptoms can vary in severity, and some women may not experience any of them.
When are my symptoms not 'normal'?
It's time to speak with your doctor if any of your symptoms are causing a concern. Indications that you should speak with a doctor include:
- Postmenopausal bleeding
- Not having experienced a period by 15 years of age or within 3 years of breast development
- No menstrual flow for more than 90 days
- Irregular bleeding between periods
- Heavy vaginal bleeding that requires a tampon or pad change every 1 to 2 hours
- Severe menstrual pain
- Signs of Toxic Shock Syndrome, a severe bacterial infection more commonly associated with tampon use
Although these symptoms may not indicate anything serious, and could be normal for your body, we like to be safe, and checking with a doctor is always the best policy!
FLUX Top Tip:For painful periods, we recommend staying hydrated, getting at least eight hours sleep, eating a good diet, and doing light exercise like yoga. You can check out our period hacks 'n' tips on Pinterest, to follow our daily dose of remedies and recommendations for period cramps.
Spotting - What is it, and why is it happening to me?
Spotting is different from your menstrual period, and is defined as any light bleeding or brown discharge that happens outside of your usual menstrual period. Some women also refer to light bleeding before and after a period, as spotting.
Spotting is quite common, and is usually caused by one of these factors:
- Ovulation. When an egg is released from your fallopian tubes
- Pregnancy. 20% of women have spotting during the first three months of pregnancy
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome - A condition in which your ovaries produce extra male hormones
- Uterine Fibroids. Small, noncancerous lumps that can form on the outside or inside of the uterus
- Birth control. This can cause spotting, especially when you first start them or switch to a new one
- Menopause. The transition to menopause can take several years and be the cause spotting.
- Sex. Spotting can sometimes occur from sex, if there is any damage to the vaginal lining
Although spotting is not usually a sign of something serious, it is not considered 'normal' and should be discussed with your doctor.
FLUX Top Tip: Spotting is not usually a cause for concern, and usually caused by something that isn't serious, however, it isn't fun and can be really annoying! We recommend using our light lined period-proof undies, that can be worn as a replacement for pantyliners, and give you the ultimate protection against any spotting. You can get a pair of FLUX period underwear here.
What to remember:
The normal adult period length when not using birth control is 8 days or less.
Birth control, such as the pill, or IUD often make period cycles shorter & lighter.
The average blood loss per period is 10 - 35 mL, but anything up to 80mL is normal.
Standard size pads/tampons usually hold 5mL of blood or menstrual fluid
Bleeding more than 80mL during one cycle is considered heavy menstrual bleeding
Spotting is quite common, but should be discussed with a doctor to identify the cause
How do you keep track of your cycle? Are you a light or heavy bleeder?
What weird period symptoms have you experienced?
Share your experiences in the comments below!
How do you keep track of your cycle? Are you a light or heavy bleeder? What are your weird period symptoms?
Share your experiences in the comments below!