The average age for someone to get their period in the U.S. is 12 and menopause typically begins at age 51. So what happens in between? Our bodies are constantly changing as we age and our periods change as well. Read more to find out what some common changes are to your cycle in each decade!
In the early years of your period it is common for it to be inconsistent. It may not come every month or it may come at differing intervals. The length of your period will vary as well as the symptoms. Some months the bleeding may be really intense and then others it will barely be there at all. The reason for the inconsistency in the early years is that the ovulation is what regulates the cycle. When you’re younger, it’s common to not ovulate consistently.
As you get into your later teen years and on into your twenties, your period should start to stabilize. You are more likely to have periods at consistent intervals (every 28 days is average) and to have more consistent symptoms (cramps, sore breasts, mood swings, etc.). You are at your most fertile in your twenties so your body is prepping you to have a baby which is why you ovulate regularly. This results in more consistent periods. Many people start using birth control in their twenties which can cause changes to your period as well. This is also a time where many people start to discover other problems such as endometriosis, PCOS or fibroids. Be sure to speak with a doctor if you have any concerns or you’re experiencing something that doesn’t seem normal or right.
The early to mid thirties are much like your twenties. This is a time when pregnancy may get thrown into the mix which can also affect your period. We all know we don’t have periods while we are pregnant but many people who breastfeed also do not have their period until they are finished breastfeeding. It is common for periods to change after pregnancy. For some they improve, they may have lighter periods and decreased cramping. But for others they can get worse. The late thirties can be the beginning of perimenopause which is your body preparing for menopause, however, this is more common in the forties.
Perimenopause typically starts 8-10 years before menopause which, on average, is at age 51. Therefore, most people experience this while in their forties. Perimenopause can result in inconsistent periods once again, just like in the teen years. It is also often accompanied by other symptoms such as hot flashes, weight gain, moodiness, thinning hair and loss of breast fulness, among others. Sounds fun, right? Also remember that it is still possible to get pregnant during this time since ovulation has not ceased entirely.
A person is said to have menopause when they have not had a period for 12 months in a row. During menopause your metabolism slows, often resulting in weight gain. Some people also experience vaginal dryness and incontinence. The perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms will slow throughout your fifties.
Keep in mind that everyone’s period is different and you may not go through these stages the same way that other people do! The most important thing is that we support one another through the different challenges that each of these stages brings. How can we better support you in the stage that you’re in? Let us know in the comments below!
*If you have concerns about your cycle please speak to doctor.