What is 'Normal'?
One of the most common things individuals ask is, what is a ‘normal’ or ‘typical’ menstrual cycle? This is also probably the most difficult question to answer because every cycle is going to be slightly different. So, don’t worry if your period is different to your friends. Different doesn’t necessarily mean ‘abnormal’ or ‘bad’. Another thing to remember is that just because something is ‘common’ doesn’t mean it’s normal or something you need to put up with.
Period pain is incredibly common, especially before the age of 25. Around 90 per cent of Australian adolescents who menstruate say they experience period pain on a regular basis. But common does not necessarily mean ‘normal’. It may be a surprise to know that many individuals experience minimal to no discomfort either during or before their period!
Some of these things, like mild cramps during the first couple of days of a period, might be frustrating, but probably are not anything to worry about. We have some self-care suggestions that you can use to help manage these symptoms.
Other things, like having pain in your tummy for the whole period that is so bad you have to stay in bed, should be checked out by your doctor.
The sections below should help provide some idea of what is ‘normal’ and then you can see how your experience relates to this.
If you aren’t sure if your symptoms are ‘normal’ or they are affecting your life in a negative way, use this PIPPA tool which will help give you an indication if you should speak with your doctor. Even if the PIPPA tool says everything is normal, if in doubt, discuss your health concerns with your doctor.
Watch this short clip to hear about how Ella’s period changes.
- Anaemia (iron deficiency) – is a deficiency in the number or quality of red blood cells.
- Endometriosis – a condition resulting from the appearance of tissue similar to the lining of the uterus, outside the uterus and causing pelvic pain, especially associated with menstruation.
- Oligomenorrhea – long delays between periods.
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) – a collection of symptoms felt often prior to the start of a period.
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) – is a hormonal condition associated with irregular menstrual cycle.
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) – a more severe form of premenstrual syndrome.