You should get your period about once every month. A typical menstrual cycle is about 28 days. This means that there should be about 28 days from the first day of your period to the first day of your next period. 28 days is an average number, but anywhere between 21 and 35 days is normal.
In the first year you should have at least 4 periods, the second year at least 6 periods, and for the 3-5th year, at least 8 periods. Adults should have at least 9 periods a year. Your period will usually last between 3 and 7 days. The amount of blood flow you have will probably be different each day. You will usually have the most blood in the beginning of your period and the least towards the end. When you are first getting your period, you may have a very heavy period one cycle and very light one the next.
What if my periods don’t come regularly?
You may be in the first or second year of having periods or you may be one of those adolescents whose periods may be affected by changes in body weight or diet, increased stress, eating disorders, exercise, illness, or going away to camp or college. Remember that if you are having sexual intercourse, an irregular period could be a sign of pregnancy. Your period may last 1 day or it may last 6 or 7. All of your cycles may not be the same number of days, and the length of your cycle may change over time. It is common for a girl just starting her period to have irregular periods for a year or two.
Periods too far apart.
You may only get your period 3-4 times a year, instead of once a month. If you are having your periods only a few times a year, this may be because of stress, intense exercise, weight loss, or diet. Too few periods could also be caused by a mild hormone imbalance called Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Girls with PCOS often have acne, excess hair growth, or weight problems in addition to irregular periods. You should check with your HCP if your period lasts longer than 7 days and if there are more than 35 days between your periods (from the first day of your period to the first day of your next period).
Periods too close together.
You may get your period every two or three weeks. This can be because of stress, some types of exercise, or other changes in your life. If your periods are less than 21 days apart, or if your period seems to be too heavy, your provider may want to check your blood count to see if you are anemic. If you are anemic, you may have too few red blood cells, or too little hemoglobin (oxygen-carrying protein in your red blood cells). People who are anemic (because of heavy periods) need to eat foods that have iron and take an iron supplement. Your HCP will tell you the dose (how much) to take and when you will need to have a follow-up blood test.
What if I skip a period?
If you miss your period, it could be because of a change in your body or in your life. If you are under stress, you’ve been sick, you are exercising a lot, or you’ve lost weight, you may skip a period. It is common to skip a period once in a while, especially during the first year that you are getting it. However, if you are having unprotected sexual intercourse or close sexual contact, or if your birth control method has failed, it could also mean that you are pregnant. If you think you may be pregnant, it is very important to see your health care provider. If you skip many periods, you should talk to your healthcare provider and see why this is happening.
What if I have big clots of blood during my period?
Small, dark, chunky clots of blood can be normal. Some women get them during their period when they have days of heavy cramping and heavy bleeding. Your body usually makes things called “anti-coagulants,” that keep your blood from clotting as it moves to your vagina and out of your body. But during days of heavy bleeding and cramping, the blood may be leaving the uterus so quickly there isn’t time to release these anti-coagulants. The blood then clots. If you have clots that are bigger than the size of a quarter, talk with your health care provider.