How Many Days Of Bleeding Are Typical During Menstruation?

Creative interpretation of menstrual flow
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Question: How Many Days Of Bleeding Are Typical During Menstruation?

Answer: Menstruation lasts from three to five days, on average.

 Your period is the shedding of the lining of your uterus. Your menstrual flow is partly made of this shed lining called the endometrium. In order for your normal period to come your body has to ovulate. Usually, your period will come about 12-16 days after you ovulate if you did not get pregnant.

During the first few years after the onset of menstruation, many girls experience unpredictable menstruation. This is because they are not ovulating regularly. Your menstrual cycle includes both ovulation and your period.

Your menstrual cycle happens because of a complex interaction between hormones produced by structures in your brain and your ovaries. It can take some time for this interaction to function properly. The good news is that menstruation usually normalizes after about two years.

Normal menstruation can last from one to eight days. For most women with regular menstrual cycles, their period will last for three to five days. That doesn't mean that anything is wrong if your period is longer or shorter.

Period length can vary, and some lifestyle or medical changes may impact the duration or severity of bleeding and cramping.

Your menstrual flow is made up of the shed endometrium and blood flow from the little vessels that are exposed after the lining sheds.

Factors that change the thickness of the endometrium or the number of blood vessels plays a role in how many days bleeding lasts.

For example, a woman who is getting closer to menopause and has lower levels of estrogen will have less endometrium built up so she will have a lighter and shorter period.

On the other hand, a woman with an endometrial polyp will have more endometrium and more blood vessels so she will most likely bleed heavier and for more days.

Using hormonal birth control can affect the number of days your period lasts.

 Women who use oral contraceptives frequently experience shorter periods, as well as lighter flow. This is because the hormones in the birth control pill stop the ovaries from ovulating. The pill contains estrogen so the lining of the uterus builds up but much less than it would naturally. And the progesterone component of the pill counteracts the estrogen build up to make the lining to be shed overall thinner than normal. The hormones in the birth control pill shut down the ovaries and essentially take over control of the endometrium. In fact, today’s continuous oral contraceptives offer women the chance to menstruate four or fewer times per year.

Women who use progesterone only contraception like Mirena or Nexplanon will see noticeable lighter and shorter periods.

Often, using these methods can lead to no period at all. This is because progesterone has an effect that thins the endometrium.

If your periods are heavy or you bleed for too many days, your doctor may suggest using a hormonal contraceptive to help control your bleeding

Of course, anytime your period is excessively heavy, long lasting, or doesn’t seem normal, consult your physician for advice.

Updated by Andrea Chisholm MD


Menstruation and the Menstrual Cycle;;; accessed 07/21/08.

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