amount of menstrual blood

page updated: 31-Mar-2004

Gloria Steinem mused that if men could menstruate, it would have been considered a positive thing, a symbol of fertility and virility, and there would be bragging about how much and how long a person's period was. Possibly also how often.

As it is, the only real status issues I have noticed with menstruation deal with how soon a girl menstruates and how late a woman keeps it up.

When I first started bleeding, it was quite heavy, and I would have to change my pad or tampon every couple of hours. The first day was the worst, and the bleeding would gradually taper off over the next 5 days or so, followed by 2 or 3 days of spotting. This was uncomfortable and a fairly major inconvenience. I looked forward to the mythical lightening of the period in my post-teenage years.

When I was 17 the bleeding started to slowly ease up, so that I would only bleed for 3 or 4 days. The first 2 would be only moderately heavy, and after that things would be nice and light. This was a satisfying development, despite the annoyance of spotting (bleeding intermittantly, which gets my hopes up that I'm all done, only to have them dashed repeatedly).

Since being on birth control pills, my periods are very wee. The smallest one lasted about an hour as far as I could tell. Usually I bleed lightly for a day or two and then stop, with no spotting, which is nice. For awhile my pills were too low dose and I would bleed for up to a week in anticipation of my actual period, which was very annoying but remedied by a slightly higher dose brand of pills.

I have noticed that the more regularly I take my pills, the lighter my periods are. If I am a few hours late with a pill one day, I end up with a noticeably heavier period. I can't imagine that the uterine lining manages to double in size during a 6 hour gap in synthetic hormones, but it certainly seems like it does :) Lesson: take your pills on time.

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