Periods: Cycles, Relief & Syndromes

Periods normally start at any point between eight years of age right through to 17 years, but the majority of women start their periods between 11 and 15 years of age.

The average menstrual cycle

On average, a woman will bleed for between three and seven days; and it normally varies from month to month.

We tend to think of the average menstrual cycle as being around 28 days. However, it can vary from woman to woman. Some women experience a cycle as short as 21 days, while some will have a longer cycle of up to 40 days.

Although it may feel like a lot more, the total average blood loss is only 45-75 mL (between 3 to 5 tablespoons). Unless you are using a menstrual cup it’s almost impossible to measure in practice. However, if you notice your flow is much heavier (or lighter) than usual it may be worth talking to your local Alphega pharmacist.


Period Pain

Painful periods, also known as dysmenorrhea, are associated with lower abdominal pain (cramping) which may also spread to the back and thighs.

It's a common problem with around 75% of young women experiencing it at some point in life. However number reduces with age, with around 25% of older women experiencing the problem.

Around one in five women will experience severe pain which negatively impacts their day-to-day activities.

There are many treatments for painful periods, both natural or medicines, please consult your local pharmacist who will recommend the most suitable treatment for you.

Heavy Periods

Heavy menstrual flow is called menorrhagia.

A normal menstrual flow is around 45-75 mL. Menorrhagia is a menstrual flow of 80 mL or more. In practice, women don’t actually measure the volume of flow, but most of women have a good idea whether their period is heavier than normal. Typical signs might include using more sanitary protection than usual, or staining your bedding or your clothes.

It is normal for menstrual flow to vary between cycles, so one heavy period may not be an issue; however when heavy flow occurs frequently then it might be worth getting checked. Talk to your Alphega pharmacist to find out more about heavy periods and how to treat them.


Irregular periods

A normal menstrual cycle generally lasts between 21 and 40 days, so it can be more difficult to define irregular periods. It's worth remembering that periods may be irregular during the early stage of puberty.

Amenorrhea is the complete absence of periods.

The most obvious cause of irregular periods and amenorrhea is unsuspected pregnancy. They may also indicate the menopause. Irregular periods may be an indication of underlying diseases, hence it is worth consulting your Doctor or pharmacist if you're in doubt.

Premenstrual Syndrome

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a series of symptoms that occur in the week or so before your period. For most women, the symptoms are mild but may include physical and mental changes which usually disappear soon after the start of menstrual flow.

Around 8% of women will suffer from severe PMS, which can have a negative impact on emotional well-being and can make it more difficult to carry on with your day-to-day life.

It's believed the main causes of PMS are related to changes in hormone levels. The severity of symptoms appears to be related to an individual's sensitivity to those changes, rather than just having abnormal hormone levels.


How can we help you?

Your Alphega pharmacist has the clinical expertise to better advise you about your concerns and refer you to your Doctor if necessary. We can support you with:

  • Understanding your Symptions

  • Clearing up your concerns regarding your period, if you feel that something is not quite right, we are the right people to ask

  • The best treatment recommendation for your period related concerns

  • Finding the right advice if we cannot help you fully