For many cultures and societies across the world, girls getting their first mark is usually a mark of womanhood and maturity. And while the age when girls get their first period may vary, the average age when girls are first visited by Auntie Flow is 12. Additionally, the age when a woman stops getting her period varies, but is usually around 50 and above. In between these ages, 12 and 50, many women admit to experiencing changes in their period. So if you’re worried about changes in your period, the changes may be completely normal. Because as we get older, our body changes and so do our hormones. Here is a complete guide on how you should expect your period to change as you get older:
In your teen years
Irregular periods are very common, especially in a girl’s first few years of getting her period. During this time in her life, it’s common, especially in the first 2 years after a girl starts getting her period, to skip periods or to have irregular periods. It’s also normal for the number of days a girl has her period to vary. Sometimes a girl may bleed for 2 days, sometimes it may last a week. That’s because the level of hormones the body makes can be different from one cycle to the next, and this affects the amount and length of bleeding.
In your 20s
If you spent most of your teen years struggling with an irregular period, I’ve got great news: at this point in your life, your flow will likely become more consistent. It is during this time that your cycle begins to even out and you start to ovulate. Your 20s are the time you are most fertile. This is the time your body is most prepared to have a baby. On the downside though, you’ll start experiencing PMS, cramps, and breast tenderness. So if you weren’t used to dealing with these side effects every month during your period, it can be something of an unpleasant surprise and change.
Another major period change that tends to happen in your 20s has to do with going on birth control. This is the decade many women decide to start taking hormonal contraception. Going on the pill will likely trigger changes to your usual flow. Think lighter and more regular periods, less cramping, and reduced PMS symptoms. In fact, some forms of birth control can even cause your periods to disappear. So make sure to discuss this with your health care provider once you do decide to go on birth control.
In your 30s
For the most part, menstruation should be pretty predictable and consistent in this decade. Symptoms such as a suddenly heavier flow or more intense pain than your usual cramps may be a sign of a bigger issue. If you experience a heavier flow than usual accompanied by crazy cramps, it could be caused by the growth of fibroids. Additionally, in your 30s, you are more likely to be diagnosed with endometriosis, which is often marked by crazy-bad pain that might last all month.
Another change in your period that may arise in your 30s? Having babies. You know that getting pregnant means your flow goes away and may not come back up until after six weeks after delivery if you’re not breastfeeding. And if you decide to breastfeed, your period will not return until you stop or reduce the number of times you’re nursing.
Additionally, some women say that their cramps get less painful. This can be caused by a number of things, but since the cervical opening becomes a little bigger the flow comes out without requiring as strong uterine contractions.
In your 40s
Similar to the years after your first period, your 40s are all about random and unpredictable bleeding. Your 40s mark the beginning of perimenopausal hormonal fluctuations, which are precursors to menopause. Normal hormone changes cause ovulation to be more irregular, and estrogen level fluctuation means you could start experiencing missed periods, a heavier flow, spotting between periods, and longer stretches of PMS.