How long should the menstrual cycle last?
Most women aren’t very much in tune with their cycle. Still, every woman surely remembers her very first period. Some of us have been taken by surprise in the classic school toilet scenario, at worst with no tampons or pads on hand. Or did the red aunt visit for the first time at the pyjama party of the year and suddenly the “Now You Are A Woman” ceremony begins? Ice skating while in the middle of a pirouette jump? Or less spectacular on a dull Sunday as a prime-time moment?
As different as our period stories may be, as blood sisters we have at least one thing in common: the everlasting stabilization phase. By the time your cycle is more or less regular, you have already had your fair share of loads of bleeding and excruciating pain. And even when you’ve left your teenage years behind, the magic number of 28 days somehow doesn’t want to stick. And that is perfectly alright.
The female cycle
The ideal menstrual cycle lasts for 28 days, with a fluctuation margin of about three days. Few women have a constantly regular cycle, and even if so, it does not always last exactly 28 days. Menstrual cycles that are longer or shorter than that and show little variation are still considered normal. In the medical sense, these are cycles of 23 to 35 days.
Cycles that are a few days shorter or longer than the norm and which also vary from one month to the next are therefore quite natural. Only in about 3.3% of all women, there are no or no significant fluctuations in terms of length; for almost 58% of women, cycles fluctuate by eight days or more over the span of one year. If you do not have a fluctuating cycle, you can consider yourself the exception that confirms the rule.
Cycle fluctuations of two to three days are no indication of an irregular cycle and no code red for fertility. However, if the menstrual cycle shows severe fluctuations or atypical bleeding, gynaecological clarification is advisable.
Check out one of our other articles on this topic here.