Health A-Z


Clinical Definition

Menstruation is the monthly shedding of the uterine lining that happens if a pregnancy does not occur. The typical menstrual cycle is 28 days long but can range from 21 to 35 or even 45. To menstruate three to five days is typical, but as few as two and as many as seven is still normal. The menses phase is followed by the follicular phase, ovulation and the luteal phase. On average, menarche occurs at age 12, but can be as early as age 8 or up to 16; symptoms can include mood changes and sleeping difficulties.

In Our Own Words

Menstruation is the normal shedding of the uterine lining when pregnancy has not occurred, typically every 28 days. Menstruation is often referred to as getting your period. On average, menstrual periods begin around age 12 but can start as early as age 8 or as late as age 16.

Some women may menstruate for three to five days, while some may bleed for two days or a whole week. Menstruation continues monthly until around age 51, the average age of menopause, when a woman no longer menstruates.

If menstruation is accompanied by significant pain or bleeding between periods or lasts longer than usual, seek medical help. Other symptoms, including some moodiness and food cravings, cramps and bloating, are normal.

Symptoms and Side Effects

  • Moodiness
  • Sleeping difficulty
  • Food cravings
  • Bloating
  • Breast tenderness

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