You’ve probably heard that the average menstrual cycle is 28 days (from day 1 of bleeding to day 1 of the next time of bleeding). But do you need to have a perfect 28-day cycle to be considered normal? What are the signs of an irregular period?
A study of 2,000 healthy women who attended Northwestern University found that only one woman had a period of exactly 28 days for two years. The menstrual cycle is one of the most dynamic biological processes, and it varies from woman to woman, and from month to month.
So if your cycle varies from month to month, you are not really irregular.
Dr. Geoffrey Redmond, a leading endocrinologist, author of “The Hormonally Vulnerable Women,” provided a simple guideline to help you decide if your period is really “normal for you.”
According to Dr. Redmond, if your usual pattern meets one or more of the following criteria, medical evaluation may be indicated.
Periods are less than 24 days apart.
Periods are more than 5-6 weeks apart.
Bleeding lasts more than a week.
Bleeding is very heavy. For example, you need to use more than 5-7 pads or tampons after day one or need both a pad and a tampon at the same time.
Cramps persist past the 2nd day of bleeding or limit your activity.
When you compare your cycle to the above guideline, bear in mind that if an occasional cycle falls within the guideline, it is generally nothing to worry about. Changes in stress, diet, sleep, exercise and other factors may cause your cycles to vary. But if the signs persist, you may want to consider a medical evaluation.
Use our Menstrual Cycle Calculator and Calendar to calculate your period, ovulation and average cycle. Review your cycle history regularly to watch out for signs of irregularity. Live vibrantly!