From the moment you pass through puberty, you begin decades of periods. At best, your periods pose a minor nuisance, and, at worst, they hijack your life for several days each month. Each woman experiences her menstrual cycles differently, and these cycles, and their effects on her life, tend to change over time.
At Serrano OBGyn, Dr. Christopher Serrano and our team are here to help guide women through every stage of their reproductive health. We believe that education is key in helping you better navigate womanhood, so we thought we’d spend a little time discussing your periods.
In the following, let’s take a look at how your periods may change over time.
A typical menstrual cycle
In order to better understand some of the experiences you may be having with your periods over time, let’s first explore what a “normal” menstrual cycle looks like. Your menstrual cycle technically begins the day you start your period and ends on the first day of your next period.
In most cases, women go through menstrual cycles every 21-35 days, and their periods last anywhere from 2-7 days.
Of course, this is the “normal” example and doesn’t take into account a host of factors that may influence the length and duration of your periods, such as whether you’re on hormonal birth control or whether you’ve entered perimenopause.
As well, we haven’t discussed the presence of certain symptoms that may accompany your periods, such as:
- Swollen or tender breasts
- Mood changes
While some women struggle each month with these symptoms, others sail through without incident.
How periods change over time
As we’ve already pointed out, how women experience periods is extremely varied and depends on a wide range of factors. But over the course of life, most women do experience changes in their periods.
For example, when you first start having your periods, they may be irregular and you might experience abnormal bleeding, such as heavy bleeding. In most cases, your periods begin to regulate themselves during your 20s and 30s, and they become more consistent and predictable.
Of course, pregnancy can interrupt this, as you won’t have any periods during this time and they may take a while to regulate again after you’ve given birth. Some women get a period six weeks after the birth of their child while others don’t get another period until they’ve stopped breastfeeding.
Where most women experience significant changes in their periods is when they reach their 40s and beyond. As you slowly transition out of your reproductive years, your periods can become erratic. You may skip a period or two or your periods may become lighter (though sometimes heavier).
Once you’ve no longer had a period for 12 months or more, you’ve officially transitioned through menopause and your periods will be a thing of the past.
Ultimately, it’s hard to say what your periods may be like throughout your life, as they can change for any number of reasons, such as:
- Weight loss or gain
- Certain medical conditions
If you’re experiencing an abrupt change in your periods or they’ve become problematic in terms of discomfort or heavy bleeding, however, we urge you to come see us so that we can get to the bottom of the problem. To get started, please contact our office in San Antonio, Texas, to set up an appointment.