Generally speaking a normal period cycle is 28 days and is usually calculated from the first day of a woman’s period. However this term ‘normal’ has tremendous amount of variation and what constitutes ‘normal’ may be very different for each woman.
Let us understand the general concepts relating to menstruation and periods as well as what constitutes a normal period cycle –
What is a period?
A period is the several days of bleeding from uterus through the vagina (menstruation or menses) that occurs if and when a woman has not been gotten pregnant in the foregoing three weeks or so. Menstruation is both necessary for reproduction and its occurrence is also evidence of a woman not being pregnant at the time.
Most females will start to menstruate between the ages 11 and 14, though there are genetic and other factors that could mean earlier or later menstruation. The bleeding is typically heavier for the first couple of days of the period (sometimes it is heaviest on the second and third days) and tapers off; the average length of a normal period being about 5 days.
What is a normal period cycle?
Though a 28 day cycle and 5 days of bleeding is considered normal, there are many variations. The important thing is what is normal for a given woman. For some women it is perfectly normal to have a cycle of 21 days and for others a cycle of 35 days may be as normal; however this is for those particular women.
If a woman whose normal cycle is 30 days but she starts to bleed 20 days into her cycle, this is probably not normal for her; though it may be perfectly normal for a woman with a 20 day cycle.
Also what is normal when a female first starts to menstruate may not be normal as she grows older. Teens typically have cycles that are further apart and longer – it is quite normal for teenage girls to have longer cycles of 45 days or so. However as a woman reaches her 20’s she is likelier to have what we understand as a normal period cycle of closer to 28 days.
Older women, after the age of 39 are also more likely to have longer cycles or less frequent periods. So clearly what constitutes ‘normal’ has wide amount of variation among women; depending upon their age and particular circumstances.
What constitutes an abnormal period cycle?
Simply put it is any variation in the normal period cycle that denotes abnormality. So if a woman with a very regular cycle becomes irregular or has unpredictable periods, this is abnormal for her. However this may not be abnormal for women who generally have irregular periods.
It may also be abnormal if a woman experiences mid-cycle bleeding (bleeding other than at the time of her period), if it is unusually heavy bleeding, with unusual clotting, or unusual pain, or if the bleeding lasts longer than what the woman has grown to expect.