Everyone’s cycles are different and many things can affect them. But how can you tell if there is something wrong? When should you see a doctor about your periods? And why can menstrual cycles vary so much? We asked leading obstetrician/gynaecologist Miss Aruna Ramineni, who has the answers.
What is a normal length for a menstrual cycle?
The “normal” menstrual cycle length is between 28-32 days, however this can vary quite significantly depending on a number of factors.
Why do people have different cycle lengths?
Periods can be irregular most commonly at puberty and around menopause. Additionally, changing the method of contraception that you use can cause irregularities in the menstrual cycle, making it either longer or shorter.
Different people have different menstrual lengths, but between 28 and 32 days is most common.
What could cause a long (e.g. 40-day) cycle? What could a short cycle indicate?
A long cycle length of 40 days or more indicates that the person may not be ovulating and one of the commonest causes for this would be a polycystic ovarian disease, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
Common causes for missed or stopped periods are:
- A lot of stress
- Sudden weight loss
- Being overweight or obese
- Extreme exercise
- Reaching the menopause
What counts as “irregular” periods? How much variation does there need to be?
Women approaching menopause can sometimes have overly frequent periods, for example, having one in every 21 days.
Who should I see if I’m worried something is wrong?
If you are worried about the frequency of your period, you should book an appointment with a gynaecologist.
Some worrying symptoms are if periods are very frequent and you are bleeding for a long time, if a period lasts more than seven days, or if there are clots and heavy bleeding during periods. In addition, if periods are very infrequent, for example, you don’t have a period more than once every 32-35 days, it is best to consult a gynaecologist in order to have some tests.
Visit Miss Ramineni’s Top Doctors profile to book an appointment.