From puberty to menopause, your menstrual cycle changes throughout your life. These changes happen when the level of hormones that are related to your cycle rise and fall. While there’s nothing you can do to stop the clock, keeping track of changes to your menstrual cycle will help you be more in tune with your body. Let’s explore how your periods could change as you get older and what you can expect.
Your first period
For many of us, our first period comes at around the age of 12-15. For the first few years of your period, you can expect heavier and more irregular cycles that can last longer than 38 days. Usually within 3 years, your period becomes more regular. If you have longer or irregular cycles which last beyond 38 days, it’s a good idea to book an appointment with your OB/GYN.
As a period beginner, using tampons, pads, and other period products can be overwhelming. We’ve got advice on starting your period to help get into the swing of things. One of our top tips is to talk to your friends and family about the products they use – and to read the packaging of the products you choose!
Your period in your 20s
In your 20s, your menstrual cycle usually gets lighter and more regular, with bleeding lasting 4 to 8 days and your cycle lasting between around 24 to 38 days in total. For those who are planning to have children, this is the time when your body is best prepared. Your cycle will be more regular, signaling that your body is ready to have a baby.
During this time, a missed period can be a sign of pregnancy but can also be a sign of something else going on. Extreme stress, consistent over exercising, or another signal of your health can affect your menstrual cycle. If you frequently experience missed periods, it’s best to talk to your doctor.
If becoming a parent isn’t what you want, whether that’s right now or ever, it’s important to use contraception whenever you have sex, regardless of your age.
Some reports share that your cramps may be more painful during your 20s than when you’re older, so now’s the time to get clued up on how to relieve period pains.
Your period in your 30s
In your early 30s, periods tend to continue regularly – with your cycle lasting around 24-38 days.
If you’ve had a baby, your menstrual cycle can change after pregnancy – though each of us will experience changes differently and your period will return at its own rate. Some women experience longer, heavier periods after having a baby, while others have lighter, less painful periods.
Generally, the beginning of your body’s transition to menopause will start in your late 30s. Perimenopause often leads to lighter and irregular periods in your 30s, as your body begins to produce less estrogen and progesterone. Perimenopause is typically associated with hot flushes, moodiness, thinning hair, dry skin, and weight gain (all the fun stuff!).
Some may experience heavier bleeding and more painful period symptoms during this time. Of course, if you experience debilitating pain at any point or feel something is not right, it’s best to see a doctor.
Your period in your 40s, 50s and beyond
Your period continues to change as you age. In your 40s and as perimenopause starts to transition to full menopause, your cycle will likely become irregular, with lighter bleeding and as the ovaries slow their estrogen production. During this time, your period might stop for a month or a few months, and then start again.
Menopause (the end of ovulation) typically happens for most women in their late 40s and early 50s. You are officially in menopause when you’ve missed your period for 12 consecutive months. Time to say goodbye to all those years of menstrual cycles. If you experience post-menopausal bleeding, you should see your doctor right away.
No matter what stage of life you’re in, everyone’s menstrual cycle is different and there’s no such thing as a ‘normal’ period. Tracking your cycle will help you to spot patterns and abnormalities unique to your cycle, as your period can provide insight into your overall health. If you notice anything off, or if you are worried about your menstrual cycle, contact your doctor.
Have you noticed changes in your period over time? Let us know on Twitter or comment below!