anonymous on September 9, 2011

How long is a normal menstrual cycle?

I haven’t had my period in 42 days, which is unusual for me. I’ve also been eating a lot, and my stomach feels different. Is something wrong?

answered by Annette Fuglsang Owens, MD, PhD on September 9, 2011

Thanks for coming to us with your question.

First, the average adult female menstrual cycle lasts 28 to 35 days. That said, the duration of a menstrual cycle canvary quite a bit, depending on your age. Women between the ages of 20 and 40 are generally the most “stable” in terms of how long their cycles last.

Now, what about your other symptoms?

Depending on your age, a delayed or skipped period, eating more and a different sensation in your belly could point to a number of conditions...from peri-menopause to pregnancy. I would encourage you to see your doctor as soon as possible to find out if you’re experiencing one or the other...and, if you’re pregnant, to ensure that you’re on track for a healthy pregnancy and delivery.

Or, you may want to take a home pregnancy test (HPT)...but be sure to follow the instructions carefully. A study conducted by the Department of Internal Medicine at Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, showed that test results are sometimes wrong due to user error. That’s why it’s important to confirm HPT results with your doctor.

Most women experience signs of pregnancy as early as three weeks after conception. Some common signs and symptoms include stopping menstruation (amenorrhea), urinating more frequently and fatigue. Other signs of pregnancy may include food cravings and aversions, mood changes and abdominal bloating...similar to what you describe.

Hopefully this information provides you with a good starting point for understanding the possible cause of your symptoms...again, your regular doctor will be able to identify exactly why you’re experiencing changes in your body.

Related info:

Annette Fuglsang Owens, MD, PhD

Dr. Owens is an AASECT-certified sexuality counselor. Her areas of expertise include the medical aspects of human sexuality and sexual problems, as well as the impact of STDs ⎼ and other diseases, illnesses and disabilities ⎼ on sexuality. Dr. Owens was educated at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

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