- At What Age Will You Enter Menopause?
- Why Menopause May Begin Earlier for Some Women
- Menopause Onset and Health Risks
- At what age does menstruation stop?
- Is this normal? Your period in your 20s, 30s and 40s
- Your menstrual cycle in your 20s and early- to mid-30s
- Your menstrual cycle in your late-30s and 40s
- Early menopause tied to heart risk and early death
- Overview – Periods
- Sanitary products
- All About Periods
- When Do Most Girls Get Their Period?
- How Will I Know My First Period Is Coming?
- Why Do Girls Get Periods?
- Do Periods Happen Regularly When Menstruation Starts?
- How Long Do Periods Last?
- How Often Does a Period Happen?
- Should I Use a Pad, Tampon, or Menstrual Cup?
- How Much Blood Comes Out?
- Will I Have Periods for the Rest of My Life?
- What Is PMS?
- Do All Girls Get Cramps?
- Looking Ahead
- In your teens
- In your 20s
- In your 30s
- In your 40s and beyond
- How Your Period Changes During Your 20s, 30s, and 40s
- Stopped or missed periods
At What Age Will You Enter Menopause?
There is no set age at which all women will start to go through menopause. The average age of menopause in the United States is 51, but it is considered perfectly normal for a woman to go through it at any time between the ages of 35 and 59, says Lila Schmidt, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist in private practice in San Diego. “Anything above 35 is not premature,” she says.
It is not known why some women get signs of menopause in their mid to late thirties or early forties. Some women think that if their periods start early, they will stop early as well. However, research doesn’t show that to be the case.
If you do stop menstruating before you turn 40, you should be tested to make sure that your missed periods are due to menopause and not some other cause. Also note that changes in your cycle might be gradual. “Menopause symptoms don’t stop or start in one night,” Dr. Schmidt says. Menopause is a process that can take several years to be complete. You’re not considered menopausal until you’ve gone an entire year — 12 consecutive months — without having a period.
Why Menopause May Begin Earlier for Some Women
One reason menopause could begin early, Schmidt says, is radiation to the pelvis, which can damage your ovaries and affect estrogen production. Other factors that have been thought to affect the onset of symptoms include how many pregnancies you’ve had, what type of birth control you use, and whether you breastfed your children.
However, research hasn’t shown any of these things to carry that much weight. “The number of pregnancies may delay menopause a little bit,” Schmidt says, “but it’s not a major factor.”
Probably the biggest factor is the age at which your mother and siblings went through menopause — although this only applies to female relatives who experienced menopause naturally (meaning, not surgically or by inducement, as with a hysterectomy).
Other factors that may influence when menopause starts include:
- Smoking. Some studies have shown that women who smoke are likely to start menopause one to two years earlier than those who don’t. Also, a recent study in Fertility and Sterility, the journal of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, found a link between fathers’ smoking habits and their daughters’ onset of menopause. Researchers in Japan questioned about 1,000 women who were postmenopausal when they came for their gynecologic exams. They found that women whose fathers smoked while their mothers were pregnant with them went through menopause more than a year earlier than those from households where the men did not smoke. However, more work is needed to explain the link. Schmidt, for one, says she doesn’t see how whether your father smoked while you were in the womb or were growing up could have a major impact on the age you start menopause.
- Eating disorders. Women with eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa may reach menopause at an earlier age than they would have otherwise.
Stress, excessive exercise, treatments for breast cancer, certain medical conditions, and autoimmune diseases — basically, anything that causes your ovaries to produce less of the hormones estrogen and progesterone — may accelerate menopause, Schmidt says.
Menopause Onset and Health Risks
The age at which menopause begins may affect your risk for certain diseases. According to the National Institutes of Health, if you start your periods early (before age 12) and go through menopause late (after age 55), you have an increased risk for breast cancer. While this is a risk factor over which you have no control, you can help protect yourself with regular breast cancer screenings.
On a positive note, a recent study by researchers at Northwestern University in Chicago and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston found that women who experience hot flashes and night sweats when they are just starting menopause may be at lower risk for heart disease, stroke, and death. However, the study also found that if you experience those symptoms later in menopause, you could be at increased cardiovascular risk.
The bottom line: You have your own unique biological clock, and it will determine when you start to have symptoms of menopause, Schmidt says. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns, but don’t worry about when it will happen — it’s usually a quite natural occurrence.
At what age does menstruation stop?
The stopping of menstruation is called menopause. The average age for menopause is 51 years old, but some women will have it a year or two earlier, and some will have it a year or two later. Early menopause is possible, and can happen in a woman’s mid-to-early 40s.
Menopause occurs when the ovaries, which usually make estrogen along with other hormones, stop producing estrogen. Prior to that, women experience something called perimenopause, which are the years leading up to menopause. Some present with skipped periods or a change in flow—either lighter or heavier. It’s normal to expect some changes in your bleeding in the latter half of your 40s, but it’s still a good idea to talk to your doctor about any changes or abnormalities.
Once a woman begins going through perimenopause, she may start to get symptoms. These symptoms vary from person to person and even from culture to culture. Some women will skip cycles for a couple of months at a time during perimenopause, but if a woman experiences 12 months straight without a cycle during this time, that’s menopause. The main symptom of menopause is, of course, no periods for 12 months straight.
Other symptoms of perimenopause include hot flashes, which also vary from person to person. Flashes could last a few seconds or several minutes, and occasionally occur at night, which may cause difficulty sleeping. Some women will also experience hormonal changes that might affect their mood, causing depression, anger or impatience.
Menopause also causes changes to the vagina. A woman’s vagina may become a little thinner, a little dryer and a little less elastic without estrogen. Lack of estrogen may also affect the urethra, which is located right above the vagina, causing it to become dry and inflamed. This may cause some pain with intercourse.
Bone loss also starts to increase with menopause. Once estrogen levels decrease, the bone will start to deteriorate gradually, which can lead to osteopenia, which is weakness of bone, or osteoporosis. Bone loss occurs predominantly in the hips, wrists and spine, which can be very dangerous, as a hip fracture could really change a woman’s lifestyle.
Is this normal? Your period in your 20s, 30s and 40s
In the United States, the average age of a woman’s first period is 12.3 years old, which means most women have menstrual cycles a significant portion of their lives. Because of this, some of the most common questions I’m asked are about periods and what is a “normal” period cycle. Here is what the average woman can expect to changes in their menstrual cycle..
Your menstrual cycle in your 20s and early- to mid-30s
Your period should have become regular and predictable by this time. The average menstrual cycle lasts 28 days when counting from the first day of one cycle to the first day of the next cycle. Eighty percent of cycles occur within 21 to 45 days. Typically, cycles will last two to seven days.
Be sure to watch for the following:
- heavy flow (need to change a pad or tampon pad every one to two hours) or abnormal bleeding that last more than seven days
- menstrual cycles less than 21 days or longer than 38 days
- spotting or bleeding between cycles or after intercourse
- missed periods, as this could be an early sign of pregnancy or may be caused by polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), especially if missed periods are accompanied by excess hair growth, weight gain and high cholesterol.
Irregular menstrual cycle and bleeding
Some abnormalities during the reproductive years might include polyps, fibroids as well as anovulation (lack of ovulation), endometriosis (growth of endometrial tissue outside the uterus) and—less common—tumors/growths. Bleeding can also be a symptom of infection such as endometritis (infection of the inner lining of the uterus) or pelvic inflammatory disease.
Remember, not all bleeding and irregularity is a cause for concern. For example, it is very common to have irregular bleeding with some contraception methods. Stress and other issues can also cause changes to your cycle from time to time.
Also, many women in the 20s and 30s experience painful menstrual cramps. You can treat cramps with over-the-counter pain relievers or heating pads.
Your menstrual cycle in your late-30s and 40s
The average age of menopause (12 months of no cycles) is 51 to 52. However, menopause can occur earlier for some women. During the 10 years before menopause, many women often experience changes to their cycles.
The average menstrual cycle for women in their late-30s and 40s tends to be shorter cycles with heavier bleeding. They may also have intermittent menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats. During this time, you can also expect some variation in the number of days of bleeding or the amount of flow. Some cycles may be skipped and then followed by a heavy cycle.
Watch for the same issues as above, but also pay attention to:
- heavy bleeding that is accompanied by dry skin, hair loss and a slow metabolism, as this could signify thyroid issues
- bleeding between cycles or after intercourse.
Remember, you know your body best. If something doesn’t feel right to you, contact your provider to determine the right course of action. Seeing your provider for an annual physical is a great opportunity for you to talk about any changes to your menstrual cycle and body.
Early menopause tied to heart risk and early death
(Reuters Health) – Women who enter menopause before age 45 are more likely to have cardiovascular problems and to die younger than women who enter menopause later in life, according to a new analysis.
The findings suggest that age at menopause may help predict women’s risk for future health problems, said lead author Dr. Taulant Muka, of Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
“Women with early onset of menopause may be a group to target for proactive cardiovascular prevention strategies,” Muka told Reuters Health in an email.
One in 10 women enter so-called natural menopause by age 45, Muka and colleagues write in JAMA Cardiology. Natural menopause is when the ovaries spontaneously reduce or cease production of certain hormones, like estrogen. Menopause can also be brought on by surgery and other medical issues.
Muka’s team looked at data on more than 310,000 women who had participated in a total of 33 studies published since the 1990s.
Comparing women who had their last period before age 45 to those who entered menopause at age 45 or older, the researchers found women with earlier menopause had a 50 percent higher risk of coronary heart disease, which can cause chest pain, heart attacks and strokes as plaque builds up on the walls of arteries.
Women who entered menopause before age 45 were also about 20 percent more likely than women with later menopause to die from cardiovascular disease (including heart attacks and strokes).
Women who entered menopause early were also 12 percent more likely to die of any cause while researchers were tracking them, compared to women who entered menopause later.
In a second analysis comparing women who entered menopause before age 50 to women who entered menopause between ages 50 and 54, the later-menopause group had a reduced risk of deadly coronary heart disease.
Muka said the timing of menopause may influence the risk of heart disease and other health problems through hormones. Additionally, he said, menopause may be a sign of overall aging.
“Our results indicate that menopause might be a critical period to evaluate women’s risk for future cardiovascular events and that it may be an appropriate time to introduce interventions to reduce the risk,” said Muka.
For example, he said, women who enter menopause early may want to work on controlling their blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and other factors affecting their heart health.
Women in Western populations enter menopause at an average age of 51, write Dr. JoAnn Manson, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and Teresa Woodruff, of Northwestern University in Chicago, in an editorial accompanying the new analysis.
Professional societies agree that women with early menopause should be considered for hormone therapy – if eligible – to manage symptoms and protect bone and vascular health, Manson and Woodruff write.
“The recognition that women with early reproductive decline constitute a population at increased vascular risk provides important opportunities for early intervention in terms of both risk factor modification and, when appropriate, hormonal treatment,” they note.
The new analysis aligns with a July study in the journal Menopause that found women who start their periods later and have later menopause are more likely to reach age 90 than those whose reproductive milestones come at earlier ages.
SOURCE: bit.ly/2d2Rwat and bit.ly/2d2RRtQ JAMA Cardiology, online September 14, 2016.
Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Sanitary products soak up or collect the blood released during your period. The main types of sanitary products are:
- sanitary pads
- menstrual cups
Sanitary pads are strips of padding that have a sticky side you attach to your underwear to hold them in place. One side of the pad is made of an absorbent material that soaks up the blood.
Pads come in many sizes, so you can choose one to suit how heavy or light your period is.
Pantyliners are a smaller and thinner type of sanitary pad that can be used on days when your period is very light.
Tampons are small tubes of cotton wool that you insert into your vagina to soak up the blood before it comes out of your body.
There are 2 types of tampon – ones that come with an applicator and others without an applicator that you insert with your fingers. In both cases, there’s a string at one end of the tampon, which you pull to remove it.
Tampons come with instructions that explain how to use them. If the tampon is inserted correctly, you should not be able to feel it inside you. If you can feel it or it hurts, it might not be in properly.
It is not possible for a tampon to get stuck or lost inside you. Your vagina holds it firmly in place and it expands inside you as it soaks up the blood.
For more information, read:
- Can a tampon get lost inside me?
- What if I forget to remove my tampon?
Menstrual cups are an alternative to sanitary pads and tampons. The cup is made from silicone and you put it inside your vagina.
Menstrual cups collect the blood rather than absorb it. Unlike sanitary pads and tampons, which are thrown away after they’ve been used, you can wash menstrual cups and and use them again.
All About Periods
- Larger text sizeLarge text sizeRegular text size
A period is when blood comes out through a girl’s vagina. It is a sign that she is getting close to the end of puberty. Puberty is when your body goes from looking like a kid’s into looking more like a grown-up’s.
There is a lot to learn about periods. Here are some common questions that kids have.
When Do Most Girls Get Their Period?
Most girls get their first period when they’re around 12. But getting it any time between age 10 and 15 is OK. Every girl’s body has its own schedule.
How Will I Know My First Period Is Coming?
There are some signs that a girl’s period may start soon. These include:
- She’s worn a bra for a few years.
- She has hair under her arms and in her private parts.
- She has some clear, stringy liquid (called discharge) coming from her vagina.
Why Do Girls Get Periods?
A period happens because of changes in hormones in the body. Hormones give messages to the body. These hormones cause the lining of the uterus (or womb) to build up. This gets the uterus ready for an egg (from the mom) and sperm (from the dad) to attach and grow into a baby. If the woman does not get pregnant, the lining breaks down and bleeds. This same process happens every month. That is why most girls and women get their periods around once a month.
Do Periods Happen Regularly When Menstruation Starts?
For the first few years after a girls starts her period, it may not come regularly. This is normal at first. By about 2–3 years after her first period, a girl’s periods should be coming around once a month.
How Long Do Periods Last?
Periods usually last about 5 days. But a period can be shorter or last longer.
How Often Does a Period Happen?
Periods usually happen about once a month. But some girls get their periods around every 3 weeks. And others only get a period about once every 6 weeks.
Should I Use a Pad, Tampon, or Menstrual Cup?
There are a few ways to deal with period blood. You may need to experiment a bit to find which works best for you. Some girls use only one method and others switch between different methods.
- Most girls use a pad when they first get their period. Pads are made of cotton and come in lots of different sizes and shapes. They have sticky strips that attach to the underwear.
- Many girls prefer to use tampons instead of pads, especially when playing sports or swimming. A tampon is a cotton plug that a girl puts into her vagina. Most tampons come with an applicator that guides the tampon into place. The tampon absorbs the blood. Don’t leave a tampon in for more than 8 hours because this can increase your risk of a serious infection called toxic shock syndrome.
- Some girls prefer a menstrual cup. To use a menstrual cup, a girl inserts it into her vagina. The cup holds the blood until she empties it.
How Much Blood Comes Out?
Although it may look like a lot of blood, a girl usually only loses a few tablespoons of blood for the whole period. Most girls need to change their pad, tampon, or menstrual cup about 3–6 times a day.
Will I Have Periods for the Rest of My Life?
When women are around age 45‒55, they stop having periods (this is called menopause). Women also won’t have a period while they are pregnant.
What Is PMS?
PMS (premenstrual syndrome) is when a girl has emotional and physical symptoms right before her period starts or during the early part of her period. A girl with PMS might:
- be in a bad mood
- feel more sad or worried than usual
- feel bloated (swollen)
- gets pimples
Do All Girls Get Cramps?
Lots of girls have cramps with their period, especially in the first few days. If the cramps are very uncomfortable, a warm heating pad on the belly and medicines can help.
Periods are a natural, healthy part of a girl’s life. They shouldn’t get in the way of exercising, having fun, and enjoying life. If you have questions about periods, ask your doctor, a parent, health teacher, school nurse, or older sister.
Reviewed by: Krishna Wood White, MD, MPH Date reviewed: October 2018
Our bodies are a lot different at age 50 than they are at 17. Our hair changes color, our skin looks different, our metabolism slows down — and so does our period change over the years.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy
The release of blood and tissue from inside the uterus is dictated by hormones. The levels of those hormones in our bodies change during different phases of our lives, so it’s natural that the monthly bleeding we experience would change, too.
While there’s no such thing as a “normal period” — every woman’s menstrual cycle is unique and can fluctuate throughout her lifetime — there are some generally accepted characteristics of a healthy period, says gynecologist Karmon James, MD:
- Complete menstrual cycle is 24 to 35 days in length.
- Monthly bleeding lasts four to eight days.
- No more than 80 milliliters (about 2.7 ounces) of blood is lost during one period. (If you soak through a pad an hour for more than two hours in row, that’s cause for concern, Dr. James says.)
If changes occur to your period outside of these parameters without an obvious explanation, Dr. James suggests mentioning it to your doctor. You should also tell your doctor about any bleeding that occurs in between periods.
These deviations could potentially indicate problems with the thyroid, or a number of other medical problems. But most often they have a benign explanation, Dr. James says.
Here are some of the notable ways you can expect your period to change throughout your life.
In your teens
The average age at which a girl starts her period is 12, but some girls may not get theirs until their mid-teens.
It’s normal for girls to have irregular periods during puberty – in fact, it can take up to three years for a girl’s period to become regular as hormones balance out, Dr. James notes.
In your 20s
Going on or off birth control, or switching methods, can cause changes in your flow or the length of your period. That’s not a problem.
A missed period during your 20s or any other decade could be a sign of pregnancy. It could also be caused by extreme stress. “I have seen college students miss their period in December during finals,” Dr. James says.
In some cases, a missed period could be caused by something worrisome like consistent overexercising or an eating disorder such as anorexia. It’s best to mention any missed periods to your doctor.
In your 30s
Regardless of age, if you’ve had a baby, your period might be different after pregnancy. Some women experience heavier, longer or more painful periods after baby, while others see their periods improve. Many women also don’t have periods while breastfeeding.
As you approach your late 30s, your periods may become less frequent or less regular. That’s perimenopause — the beginning of your body’s transition to menopause.
In your 40s and beyond
During this decade your ovaries slow their estrogen production, so your periods may get shorter and lighter, or come less frequently. Menopause occurs when your period stops completely for 12 consecutive months. For most women, this happens in their late 40s or early 50s.
Any woman with post-menopausal bleeding should tell her doctor, who may want to evaluate her for endometrial or uterine cancer. This is a rare cancer that develops in the inner lining or muscle wall of the uterus, but it mostly occurs in women age 50 or older.
Tracking your menstrual cycle can help you determine what “normal” looks like for you and bring your attention to anything that might be out of whack.
“My biggest advice for women is to seek a provider you trust and tell them when something changes.” Dr. James says. “Don’t assume everything is normal, because abnormal bleeding could be related to a number of things.”
How Your Period Changes During Your 20s, 30s, and 40s
We’re just taking a guess here, but your period is probably not your favorite monthly event—especially when it gets all weird on you. One month it’s late, the next it’s early; you’re used to a flow lasting four days, then all of a sudden it sticks around for a full week. Cramps sideline you when you’re caught without pain meds, but once you’re stocked up on ibuprofen, you don’t feel a twinge of discomfort.
RELATED: How Long is a Menstrual Cycle, Anyway?
Changes to your menstrual cycle like these are hard to predict and a major pain to deal with. But all we can say is, get used to them. Because as you get older, your period will keep adjusting and evolving, thanks in part to normal age-related hormonal changes as well as experiences such as pregnancy and perimenopause.
Here, a better idea of what to expect in the years to come (as well as what might be a sign that something isn’t right).
RELATED: These Are the 5 Best Period Tracker Apps for Women, So You Can Stay on Top of Your Cycle
If you spent most of your teen years struggling with an evil period (you know, the no-show kind that then made surprise appearances at the worst times), we’ve got great news: at this point in your life, your flow will likely become more consistent.
Why? It’s very typical for young girls not to ovulate regularly, says Lauren Streicher, MD, a Chicago-based ob-gyn and author of Sex Rx-Hormones, Health, and Your Best Sex Ever. And without on the regular ovulation, your periods will be more erratic. On the other hand, when your cycle evens out and comes more or less monthly, you’ll also start experiencing PMS, cramps, and breast tenderness. If you weren’t used to dealing with these side effects every month, it can be something of an unpleasant surprise.
RELATED: Is It Just Me or Is Sleeping in a Tampon a Bad Move?
Another major menstruation 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—they have a steady partner now, for example, and they’re too busy navigating their careers to think about kids. 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, the pill (or another form of hormonal contraception, like the hormonal IUD or Depo-Provera, the birth control shot) can even cause your periods to disappear. Birth control pills prevent ovulation, and without ovulation, there’s no uterine lining buildup that has to be shed. Voila! No flow.
For the most part, menstruation should be pretty predictable and consistent in this decade, says Dr. Streicher. Symptoms such as a suddenly heavier flow or more intense pain than your usual cramps may be a sign of a bigger issue. Benign growths called fibroids, which can leave you with heavier bleeding, generally don’t make a debut until you’ve reached the big 3-0, for example. And endometriosis, which is often marked by crazy-bad pain that might last all month, is also frequently diagnosed when a woman is in her 30s.
RELATED: 8 Reasons You’re Spotting Between Periods
Another game-changer that may arise in your 30s? Having babies. You know that getting pregnant means your flow goes MIA. But you may not have realized that your period doesn’t usually come back until six weeks after delivery if you’re not breastfeeding, says Sheryl Ross, MD, an ob-gyn in Santa Monica, California and author of She-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women’s Intimate Health. Period. “And if you decide to breastfeed, your period will not return until you stop or reduce the amount of times you’re nursing.”
What’s more, delivering a kid may lead to long-term shifts to your cycle. “Many women will tell you that after they’ve gone through pregnancy, their cramps get better,” says Dr. Streicher. ““That 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
Here’s where the real fun starts. Your 40s mark the beginning of perimenopausal hormonal fluctuations, which are precursors to menopause. During this time, generally the eight to 10 years before menopause (which typically happens in your early 50s), your body preps for the the menstruation finish line.
RELATED: 9 Best Workouts to Do When You Have Your Period
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. “The thing I always say about perimenopause symptoms is the one thing that’s predictable is that nothing is predictable,” says Dr. Streicher. Just don’t forget, even if ovulation is erratic, you can still get pregnant. A woman isn’t in menopause until her periods have ceased for at least a year.
Whatever your age, remember that your period offers a lot of insight into overall health. So if you experience any unusual symptoms, it’s a good idea to check in with your doctor, says Dr. Ross. Highly irregular periods or drastic changes to your flow may be a sign of thyroid issues, polycystic ovarian syndrome, or a number of other (treatable) health concerns.
To get more sexual health content delivered to you inbox, sign up for our newsletter
Stopped or missed periods
You might miss a period every so often if you’re taking the contraceptive pill. This is not usually a cause for concern.
Some types of contraception, such as the progestogen-only pill (POP), contraceptive injection and intrauterine system (IUS), particularly Mirena, can cause periods to stop altogether.
However, your periods should return when you stop using these types of contraception.
You may start missing periods as you approach the menopause. This is because oestrogen levels start to decrease, and ovulation becomes less regular. After the menopause, your periods stop completely.
The menopause is a natural part of ageing in women, which usually happens between the ages of 45 and 55. The average age for a woman to reach the menopause is 51 in the UK.
However, around 1 in 100 women go through the menopause before the age of 40. This is known as premature menopause or premature ovarian failure.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
Polycystic ovaries contain a large number of harmless follicles, which are underdeveloped sacs in which eggs develop. If you have PCOS, these sacs are often unable to release an egg, which means ovulation does not take place.
PCOS is thought to be very common, affecting about 1 in every 10 women in the UK. The condition is responsible for as many as 1 in 3 cases of stopped periods.