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Irregular Periods: What is Normal & When to See Your Online OBGYN

January 12, 2022
Miranda Obryan

In our culture today, many women do not feel comfortable discussing their periods in detail. Unfortunately, that makes it more difficult to know if things are functioning normally or if there is irregularity. According to research, between 14-25% of women have experienced menstrual irregularities. In this blog post, we will explore what is considered healthy menstruation and when to talk further with your virtual gynecologist.

What is a normal menstrual cycle?

Do you always get your period on the same day each month? If not, there is probably nothing to be concerned about. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about what is normal during your period.

What is a normal menstrual cycle duration?

Although it is commonly taught that a period cycle is 28 days, a healthy cycle can vary from 24 to 38 days. A menstrual cycle starts on the first day of your period and is calculated by counting the number of days until the first day of your next period. 

What is the menstrual cycle?

Each period is marked by shedding the uterine lining when hormone levels are low from the absence of pregnancy. Once your lining is shed, the body will again prepare the uterine lining for pregnancy in the new cycle and the process repeats each month or so.

How much blood loss is normal?

So what is considered normal in regards to the amount of bleeding each month? Most women report that their periods last between 3 and 5 days. It is difficult to get a true measurement of the amount of blood lost during a period due to the absorbent nature of pads and tampons, but the CDC estimates that the amount of blood loss is about 2 to 3 tablespoons per period (about 30-45mL). For reference, a typical menstrual cup holds about 30 mL and pads or tampons hold about 5mL if fully saturated. Other estimates have been anywhere between 10 and 80 mL per period. As you can see, the amount of menstrual bleeding that is normal varies greatly.

Is it normal to have mucus, tissue, and clots during my period?

If you are curious about finding out exactly how much blood you’re losing, see our article on Menstrual Cups which can give a lot more insight into the volume and contents of your uterine lining. You may be surprised to learn that your period does not just shed blood; your body is also shedding mucus, tissue, uterine lining, and small blood clots.

Is it normal to have variation in my period bleeding?

Many women experience a lot of variation during their periods. Sometimes a period can start out very heavy or very light and the next day will be the opposite. Some women continue to have very heavy periods for a shorter duration while others may have mostly light periods for a longer duration. One cycle to the next can also vary greatly for the same woman.

As you can see, the experience each woman has with her menstrual cycle is very tailored to her unique body, so the range of “normal” is fairly large. That’s not super helpful if you’re trying to figure out if you are experiencing a menstrual disorder. Let’s explore the red flags of when to call your gynecologist.

What is abnormal bleeding?

Although our bodies are pretty miraculous at figuring out how to function perfectly all on their own; sometimes things get out of order. There are many medical conditions related to your cycle that your virtual physician can discuss further with you.

Some common menstrual irregularities include:

  • Spotting between periods
  • Very short or light periods
  • Very heavy periods (more than 1-2 tampons or pads per hour or more than 80 mL per cycle)
  • Blood clots larger than the size of a quarter
  • Bleeding longer than 8 days
  • Painful cramping that affects your day to day functioning, relationships, or work
  • Shorter cycles (less than 21 days)
  • Infrequent or absent periods

The above menstrual conditions can be caused by a number of factors including stress, hormonal imbalances, and many other possibilities. If you are experiencing any of the above and are concerned about your period, reach out to My Virtual Physician to schedule an appointment and discuss your concerns.

How can your Online OBGYN help with irregular menstrual cycles?

The beauty of scheduling an appointment with My Virtual Physician is that you can see the doctor when it is convenient for you. If you need to see the doctor multiple times throughout your menstrual cycle to discuss irregularities, you can do that!

Our doctors are professionals and they are comfortable discussing subjects that are considered taboo to the general population. We specialize in helping make sure that your body and reproductive system are functioning properly.

Are you currently experiencing an abnormal period and wondering if you should seek medical attention? Don’t wait, book an appointment now to discuss your concerns. 

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