We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Considered an Abnormal Menstruation Cycle?

Autumn Rivers
Updated Jan 21, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The typical menstruation cycle lasts about 28 days, and the normal length of a period is five days. Of course, there is a range that is considered standard, but a menstrual cycle that strays from the average is typically referred to as abnormal. For example, a period that does not last anywhere from three to seven days is usually considered irregular, while an entire cycle that does not last between 20 and 35 days is also abnormal. Particularly heavy or light flow can also constitute an abnormal menstruation cycle, as it is not normal to need to change pads or tampons every hour or two. In addition, strong or sudden symptoms can signal an abnormal menstruation cycle, as these should stay about the same every month.

While five days is usually considered the norm when it comes to period length, the typical range is quite wide. In fact, a woman whose period lasts anywhere from three to seven days is within the normal range. For this reason, it is usually a good idea to contact a doctor if the period only lasts two days or less, as there could be a problem with the uterine lining or hormones involved in menstruation. On the other hand, it is also important to seek help if blood flow continues for longer than a week, as this could lead to anemia or other health issues. Similarly, a period that comes more frequently than every 20 days, or less often than every 35 days, usually indicates an abnormal menstruation cycle.

Blood flow should also be noted when determining whether a period is normal. For example, it is considered typical to have to change a pad or tampon about every four to eight hours. Of course, some women have one or two heavy flow days in their cycle that makes it necessary to change it slightly more often. If, however, it is frequently necessary to change the pad or tampon every one to two hours, the blood flow may be abnormally high.

Some women have particularly severe symptoms before their menstrual period appears. Not only does this usually cause discomfort, but it could also indicate an underlying problem. For example, endometriosis is a condition that results in an abnormal menstruation cycle that often includes fatigue, severe cramping, and pain with bleeding. Whether symptoms are hard to endure every month, or have become severe only recently, it is often good to talk to a doctor to determine the reason for the abnormal menstruation cycle. An abnormal menstrual cycle does not always mean that there is a serious problem, but it is best to make sure.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Autumn Rivers
By Autumn Rivers
Autumn Rivers, a talented writer for WiseGeek, holds a B.A. in Journalism from Arizona State University. Her background in journalism helps her create well-researched and engaging content, providing readers with valuable insights and information on a variety of subjects.

Discussion Comments

By SteamLouis — On Sep 18, 2014

I disagree that cycles that last longer or shorter than the average are always abnormal. Each women is different and experiences menstruation a little differently. A woman that has always had cycles lasting 40 days or a woman always having periods lasting three days may not have an abnormal menstruation cycle.

My doctor said that the reproductive system is like a motor and it runs a little differently in everyone. What's concerning is if a woman's cycle patterns change suddenly and abruptly. So if a woman with a 40 day cycle suddenly starts experiencing 28 day cycles, that's a problem. Or if a woman with three day periods suddenly starts getting seven day periods. Doctors need to be notified of such changes.

By bear78 — On Sep 17, 2014

@bluedolphin-- Do you also have heavy periods with a lot of cramping and pain?

I think you should see a doctor to get to the bottom of this. You might be experiencing a hormonal imbalance or might have another health problem affecting your periods. For example, problems with the thyroid can also cause changes in periods.

Whatever it is, it's best to get to the bottom of it. Otherwise, you will continue to experience issues every month. Abnormal cycles also tend to worsen PMS symptoms. I know that when my period is late, my PMS symptoms are worse and last longer. It can be debilitating sometimes.

By bluedolphin — On Sep 17, 2014

I guess I have an abnormal menstrual cycle because my cycle lasts about forty days. Every month, it seems like my period is late. But I've actually started marking my periods on a calendar and they occur every forty days.

Autumn Rivers

Autumn Rivers

Autumn Rivers, a talented writer for WiseGeek, holds a B.A. in Journalism from Arizona State University. Her background in journalism helps her create well-researched and engaging content, providing readers with valuable insights and information on a variety of subjects.
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.