For young women starting their menstrual cycles, many questions may arise for them about what’s normal and what’s irregular when it comes to their period.
The range of what’s normal with a young woman’s period is broad. Generally speaking, teen girls will have a period every 28 days. Although some teens may have their periods more or less often and it’s still considered a normal menstrual cycle.
“It can take time for a young woman’s body to get into a regular pattern with menstrual cycles,” said Dr. Nneka Holder, an adolescent medicine specialist who also helps direct Akron Children’s Young Women’s Bleeding Disorder Clinic. “I like to use the analogy of a toddler learning how to walk – it takes time and practice, days and months, for the toddler to figure out walking. The same is true of menstrual cycles. Young women’s cycles usually don’t get into a regular pattern at first – the body needs time to adjust.”
Some young women, however, do experience menstrual bleeding that goes beyond the normal amount of just under 3 oz. of blood per cycle. Heavy menstrual periods are those that consistently last longer than 7 days and require more than 7 absorption products a day.
“Heavy menstrual periods can lead to immediate issues such as becoming anemic, and may also indicate an underlying condition that needs treatment,” said Dr. Holder.
Symptoms of heavy menstrual bleeding
- Lasts 7 days or more per menstrual cycle (consistently)
- Requires more than 7 absorption products a day to manage flow
- Impacts the young woman’s quality of life, such as keeping her from participating in sports and other activities
Common underlying causes of heavy menstrual bleeding
- Bleeding disorders, such as von Willebrand disease (vWD)
- Infections, like sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
- Hormonal problems, such as thyroid disorders
If your adolescent daughter has concerns about her menstrual cycle, encourage her to talk to her primary care doctor.
If she’s also experiencing symptoms such as excessive bruising, frequent nose bleeds and/or a history of excessive bleeding after surgery, contact Akron Children’s Young Women’s Bleeding Disorder Clinic at 330-543-8580.