Normally, people use the word ‘normal’ to describe anything that is not out of the ordinary and is commonly prevalent. Just because something is common, it does not make it ‘normal’. Normal is a subjective concept and what is normal to one person may be abnormal to another.
This is true even in the context of menstruation. From the time you first experienced your menstrual cycle till the time of menopause, the menstrual cycle will change. Each month, your body readies itself to get pregnant. Although an average menstrual cycle lasts for 28 days, anything between 21 and 45 days is considered normal. For the first one or two years after menstruation begins, women may experience longer cycles that may not necessarily begin at the same time each month. As women get older, they often have shorter and more consistent cycles. Here, we define what falls under the ambit of ‘normal’.
How Many Days Of Bleeding Is Considered Normal?
The average woman experience bleeding for 3-5 days. But, it is normal to bleed for just two days or even a whole week. If spotting is observed after seven days, even that is considered normal. However, experiencing heavy flow beyond seven days, it is not normal.1 2 3
How Much Blood Flow Is Normal?
The average woman bleeds just about two tablespoons of blood during their period. Even if the quantity of blood is twice or thrice as much, it is still thought to be normal. Having a heavy flow in the first few days of your cycle is normal, but if you have to change your pad or tampon once every hour or two, then it is not normal and you must consult your physician. Small, tissue-like clots on the first couple of days of your period are quite normal. But, if you have to change your sanitary pad in the middle of the night or pass large clots the size of a golf ball, then it’s not considered normal.4
What Is The Normal Variation Between Periods?
Often, slight variation may occur in the duration of your cycles. If you experience a 28-day cycle one month and a 30-day cycle during the next month, it is considered to be within the normal range. But, a large variation where some cycles are 21 days long, and others 33 days long is an abnormal variation. When you have such a huge variation between menstrual cycles, you are experiencing irregular periods. Periods can also be delayed because of stress or illness. If you experience irregular periods occasionally, then it is not a cause for concern. But, if you don’t have your periods for more than 60 days, you’re either pregnant or must see your doctor and diagnose what is wrong. Birth control pills or IUDs can also alter the timing of your period. Consult your doctor what’s normal for your form of contraception.5 6
Is It Normal To Experience Spotting Between Periods?
Some women may experience mild spotting during ovulation, which is approximately during the middle of your menstrual cycle. In the case of implantation spotting, it may occur about seven days after ovulation, around the time the embryo implants itself in the uterine lining. Though not all women experience this, it is considered as normal. But, if you notice heavy bleeding between periods, or if the spotting occurs throughout your cycle, then that is not normal.
What Are The Normal Symptoms Of Periods?
Slight mood swings during periods are normal, but depression or manic states are not. While mild headaches are normal, severe bouts of migraines during your period may indicate other health conditions. Light cramps, especially on the day before your period begins and the first couple of days of your period is considered normal. Here are other normal symptoms of periods.
- Mild headaches
- Feelings of irritation
- Breast tenderness
- Food cravings
- Emotional sensitivity
- Mood swings
- Sleep problems
- Increased acne
Is Cramping Normal During Periods?
Experiencing mild cramps, especially the day before and during your period, is normal. But if you are unable to go to work because of the severity of the cramps, then you must consult your doctor. Cramps that occur at times besides your period is also abnormal. Severe pelvic cramps may indicate other medical conditions such as endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, or other medical problems that require medical intervention.
Is It Normal To Have Vaginal Odor?
Although usually vaginal odor is associated with infections, some odor during periods is normal. During your period, you may notice a mild scent of blood, which makes sense. A mild, musk-like scent at any time during your cycle is also normal. But, a pungent odor or strong fishy smell is not normal and may indicate an infection. If you experience itching, fever or unusual cramps, then consult your gynecologist. Don’t try to conceal the odor with vaginal deodorants. Some vaginal infections can interfere with and prevent pregnancy. Many vaginal deodorants are also known to interfere with fertile cervical mucus, which is required to get pregnant.
|↑1, ↑4, ↑5||Hillard, Paula J. Adams. “Menstruation in adolescents: what’s normal?.” The Medscape Journal of Medicine 10, no. 12 (2008): 295.|
|↑2||Gokyildiz, Sule, Ergul Aslan, Nezihe Kizilkaya Beji, and Meltem Mecdi. “The effects of menorrhagia on women’s quality of life: a case-control study.” ISRN obstetrics and gynecology 2013 (2013).|
|↑3||Periods and fertility in the menstrual cycle. NHS Choices. 2014.|
|↑6||Menstruation and the menstrual cycle. Women’s Health.gov. 2017.|