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Every woman’s menstrual cycle is slightly different. This means that what’s normal for one woman won’t be the same for another.
Your menstrual cycle begins on the first day of your period, and ends the day before your next period starts. The average length of time between periods is 28 days. However, normal cycles can be slightly less or more than this. Anywhere between 24 and 35 days between periods is perfectly normal.
Every month, if you’re not pregnant, you will have a period. This period is made up of blood and tissue from your womb lining left over from your monthly ovulation.
Most women will bleed for 3-7 days, and lose around 3-5 tablespoons of blood. A period is usually reddy-brownish in colour. However, the length, amount and colour of your period can vary throughout your life due to a number of different factors.
As well as this, your usual vaginal discharge changes throughout the menstrual cycle. It will often get thin and stretchy around the time of your period.
Some women’s periods aren’t always regular. An irregular period is a period that is:
Not necessarily. There are plenty of reasons why your period might not be as it usually is. However, it could be a sign that you have a hormone imbalance.
It’s important to let your doctor know if your periods are irregular so that they can rule out any underlying health conditions.
Visit your doctor if:
If you haven’t had your usual period, and have had sex in the past month, there is a chance you could be pregnant. Take a test at home or visit your doctor to make sure whether or not this is the case.
There are usually very simple explanations for irregular periods. But, in some cases, irregular periods are the sign of something more serious. This is why it’s so important to get properly checked by a doctor if your periods ever change significantly or you’re worried they could be abnormal.
Lots of things can change your normal menstrual cycle and lead to irregular periods. These can include:
An irregular period is caused by irregular ovulation. Your ovulation patterns will change throughout your life, after puberty and shortly before the menopause.
A slight amount of variation in your periods is not unusual, and shouldn’t be a cause for concern.
Unless there’s a serious reason behind your irregular periods, treatment shouldn’t be necessary.
Treatment is usually only offered if your irregular periods become uncomfortable or distressing for you. In this case, pain relief and medications for heavy bleeds can be offered. However, for most women, irregular periods is a pretty common phenomenon every once in awhile.
If managing your irregular periods becomes an issue, your doctor may prescribe you the combined oral contraceptive (COC) pill. This contains the hormones oestrogen and progesterone, and can help to control your periods.
If your irregular periods are being caused by an underlying condition, such as polycystic ovaries, you will be offered the appropriate treatment for the condition. Your doctor may also suggest some small lifestyle changes, such as a change in diet, to help alleviate your irregular periods. Once this underlying cause has been treated, your periods should return to normal.
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