Fact Check: Periods Longer Than Three Days ARE Normal

Fact Check

  • by: Marlo Lee
Fact Check: Periods Longer Than Three Days ARE Normal It Varies

Is it true that menstrual cycles, or periods, lasting longer than three days are abnormal? No, that's not true: There is no scientific evidence that a period lasting longer than three days is not normal. Two gynecologists and an expert on women's health told Lead Stories that the average length of a period is three to seven days.

The claim appeared on Facebook (archived here) on August 3, 2023. The post read:

Periods longer than 3 days is not normal ... don't let them white coats full you 😶

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Wed Aug 9 15:30:07 2023 UTC)

The Facebook user who created this post does not give any evidence to back up the one-sentence claim. Their Facebook account does not show that this individual has any medical training or another health-related background that would substantiate the claim.

Lead Stories contacted Dr. Jennifer Wider, a woman's health expert who has a medical degree from Mount Sinai Medical School, about this claim. In an August 9, 2023, email, she told us that the length of menstruation can vary between people:

There isn't a one size (or one length) fits all answer to this. The length of bleeding days can vary between people. On average between 3-7 days, but can be longer or shorter. All of this is normal.

Dr. Alyssa Dweck, a board-certified gynecologist based in New York, responded to our inquiry with an August 9, 2023, email:

standard cycle duration is 2-7 days

source ACOG
ACOG is an acronym for The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The link she sent was a page on "Heavy and Abnormal Periods" with a list of frequently asked questions. The first question asks, "What is a normal menstrual cycle?" and the response given is as follows:
A typical period lasts 2 to 7 days, with the heaviest bleeding in the first 3 days.
ACOG also answers the question, "When is a menstrual cycle not normal?" on the same page. The site says that it's abnormal when:
  • You are 15 or older and have never had a period
  • It has been 3 years since your breasts developed and you have never had a period

  • You are 14 or older, have never had a period, and you have an eating disorder, exercise a lot, or have hirsutism (excessive body hair growth)

  • Your periods were regular each month and then they stopped being regular

  • Your period comes more often than every 21 days or less often than every 45 days

  • Your periods come more than 90 days apart, even for one cycle

  • Your period lasts more than 7 days

The list does not include a period longer than three days as being abnormal.

Dr. Amy Lasky, another board-certified gynecologist based in New York, had the same answer in an August 10, 2023, phone call about the claim. When asked if the claim was true, she replied:

No, the claim is absolutely not true ... the average length of a period varies by woman, but a range of normal is three to seven days, so if your period is longer than three days, that is completely in the range of normal.

Here and here are more resources on periods and the overall menstrual cycle.

Other Lead Stories fact checks concerning menstrual cycles are here.

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Marlo Lee is a fact checker at Lead Stories. She is a graduate of Howard University with a B.S. in Biology. Her interest in fact checking started in college, when she realized how important it became in American politics. She lives in Maryland.

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