Kate Shkodzik, a medical specialist at Flo, answers the most commonly asked questions about periods.
Why do we get periods every month?
Periods, or menstruation, are the cyclical bleeding from the uterus that occurs about every month or so, and are a part of the normal menstrual cycle. The changes in hormone levels, as well as in the ovaries and uterus, that happen during a menstrual cycle are all aimed at achieving pregnancy. When pregnancy doesn’t occur, the uterus sheds its inner lining along with blood and mucus through the cervix and vagina due to a sharp decrease in estrogen and progesterone.
How long without a period is normal?
Menstrual cycles that are 21–35 days long are considered normal. A period is considered late if it’s more than five days past its expected start date.
Sometimes a period delay can be due to stress or rapid weight loss.
More rarely, it may be a sign of an endocrine condition like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), thyroid dysfunction, hyperprolactinemia, or another health issue. If your period is late, take a pregnancy test and don’t hesitate to visit a health care provider.
If your periods are late for several months, make sure to consult a health care provider to figure out possible underlying reasons.
Is it normal to have periods twice a month?
For menstrual cycles that are 21 days long, it’s possible to have a period twice during one calendar month. However, bleeding twice or more during one menstrual cycle, blood after sex, or bleeding that stops and then starts again after several days could indicate a health issue.
Hormonal imbalance, ovarian cysts, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, pelvic inflammatory disease, and cervical neoplasia can cause irregular bleeding. If there is any bloody vaginal discharge outside of a normal period, visit a health care provider to find out what’s causing it.