Girls begin to have periods at the onset of puberty. This usually happens anytime between ages 9-12 in an average. However, if the physical changes have occurred and the periods have not begun for three years until then, visit a doctor for consultation. Normally, the periods in the initial phase do not follow a regular cycle. It may be delayed for as many as 35 days or schedule itself anywhere between 21-25 days. This is due to several contributing factors that shall be highlighted subsequently. The average and ideal period cycle is about 28 days and it follows the pattern unless affected by other factors.
Here’s how long periods should last according to age group:
Menarche, or the first period brings with it a lot of things that is a completely new experience for a girl. Dealing with it tenderly is necessary so that the child does not undergo an emotional setback or has a negative notion about it.
For teenagers, bleeding may occur for about 5-7 days initially which depends on how the body reacts to the changes at the beginning. For girls who are active physically, the chances of bleeding regularly or early are pretty high as opposed to those who have limited physical exertion. The flow in initial phase is generally heavy for about 4-6 months, after which the body develops a normal cycle and flow.
Problems associated with periods include severe cramps, bloated feeling, mood swings, pain in the back and thighs, and dryness in pelvic region. Changes in skin colour, hair texture, and physical appearance are also commonly observed. Girls often face itchiness in the pubic region during periods which should be avoided as it might leave scars.
In mid twenties and thirties, that is, the age group 25-35 years, there usually are changes that women undergo in the body relating to sexual encounters, pregnancy, childbirth, breast feeding, consumption of oral contraceptives etc. These have a great impact on hormonal levels which might affect the menstrual cycle initially. Then, the body might regain its regular cycle or form a new cycle altogether.
At this age, bleeding lasts for 3-5 days ideally. For a few, it might last only for a day or two in the beginning and fade out by the third day. The body also reacts to any change in weight at this age and the result can be seen in the form of irregular, heavy, or light periods. A change in diet is highly recommended at this age. Those who consume alcohol are likely to have a short cycle as compared to those who do not indulge in liquor.
After 45, the period starts indicating that production of eggs in the ovaries have reduced which causes light flow and rapid weight changes in a lot of women. The periods also become irregular and may not arrive in as many as 75 days. Besides being a painful affair, periods cause hot flashes, loss of diet, mood swings, irritability, and bloated feeling. Physical changes like weight loss/gain, and hair and skin problems also follow when the body reaches the menopausal phase.
At this age, proper body care is essential so that the periods fade out without any major infections and abnormalities which are a common affair.
Other contributing factors that can affect the periodic cycle:
Multiple other factors also affect the periodic cycle, flow and kind of discharge from the body. Here are a few common things one needs to know.
Being active physically is essential for everyone irrespective of age group. Exercising maintains a healthy blood flow in the body and also maintains hormonal levels. During periods, cramps can be treated without medication with some simple exercises. Exercises help release hormones, which act as natural painkillers for the body. Those who have a regular exercise regime are likely to have normal and hassle free period that lasts for 3-4 days in a normal cycle.
2. Stress levels
Being stressed, anxious, excited, nervous, bored, relaxed, or happy has an impact on hormonal secretion in the body. The body reflects all of it through the way it appears and feels and who can know it better than women. Often, prolonged feeling of any kind will cause the periods to arrive early/ late and impact the duration, volume, and quality of discharge.
3. Hormonal changes
From having the first period, intercourse, pregnancy, childbirth, breast feeding, and weaning process, hormonal changes are a constant factor in a woman’s body. It is natural for a body to react differently to each situation and the duration of period varies in each case. For instance, after childbirth, a few women have normal periods within 2-3 months, while a few do not have it back till the time the child is breast fed.
4. Using oral contraceptives
Oral contraceptives meddle with the normal hormone formation of the body and thus have an effect on the duration and arrival of periods. For many, these pills reduce cramps, nausea, heavy bleeding, and headaches that are associated with menses. The flip side includes spotting, irregular menses, unscheduled bleeding, and heavy bleeding which appear for a few months when the pills are introduced. These usually disappear after a few months of continuous intake of oral pills.
5. Eating behaviour
Observed closely, there often are several food items that can affect the periods. As a matter of fact, vegetarians and non-vegetarians also have a different periodic cycle. The logic is very simple, since the hormones can affect our food habits, vice versa also holds true. For a normal cycle, intake of proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals in balance is necessary. Avoid excessively spicy, oily, frozen foods, junk foods, and complex carbs.
6. Medical history
In quite a few cases when women have to take strong doses of medication, it is normal to have scanty, delayed, and painful periods. The periods may not occur for several months or years due to prolonged illness. Those having kidney problems often have irregular periods that occur once in several months. Certain medications may also cause spotting or heavy bleeding at irregular time frames.
It is important to know that any excessive bleeding is also dangerous for the body as it may cause a drop in iron levels making the immune system weak and the body prone to diseases. Therefore, maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle is essential for the body to behave normally in all situations. There often are cases when there is no immediate effect in the initial level, but later ovarian cyst, conception issues, infertility, and other such problems occur with time.