What is happening to my periods? Is this normal?

Common changes to periods during the menopause and perimenopause

Eileen Durward

14 October 2014

What causes changes to your periods?

Falling oestrogen levels will affect the monthly cycle so your periods can become light, heavy, long, short, late, early or missing, and in any combination! You can get one set of symptoms then a few months later something completely different can happen.

Confusing? Absolutely! And it is also impossible to tell which ones you will get or how long all this will last!

But, hopefully I can shed a little light on what might be going on.

The average age for this chaos to start is 45-55 but some women can start earlier, especially if other close female relatives started around the same age. Ethnic origin, smoking, obesity and certain chronic health issues may mean an earlier menopause too.

Missing periods

You may find that you miss one period then get one or two back, then miss several and so on, and eventually your periods stop for good – this can take up to several years. A few lucky women can find that their periods just stop without warning and that’s it!

What should you do?

There is really nothing specific: this is just your hormones naturally winding down.

Heavy periods

Periods can still be regular but start to get heavier and heavier, or you may find that you miss a few then the next one you get is really heavy.

What should you do?

Heavy periods, if they continue can cause anaemia, which in turn can cause fatigue, low mood, poor sleep, muscle/joint aches, flaky nails and brittle hair; so taking a gentle iron tonic would be a good idea.

Periods getting further apart

Instead of being regular your periods start to come later and later. Usually this leads to missing some, and then they stop.

What should you do? 


This is just the way your hormones are naturally winding down so you don’t need to do anything.

Periods getting closer together

You may find your get a period then 2 weeks later get another one. These are often heavy and can last up to seven days or more at a time.

What should you do? 

Periods like this can cause anaemia too, so a gentle iron tonic would be a good idea. Some women find the herb Agnus castus helpful, as this is traditionally used to help restore a proper monthly cycle when periods have started coming too close together. If they start to get really heavy or end up running into each other then please see your doctor.


You may suddenly find that your periods are so heavy that you are bleeding very heavily. You may need to change sanitary towels or tampons very frequently or find that you are bleeding so much that you stain your clothes.

What should you do? 

Go to the doctor immediately: this must be treated! Although this is common it is not good for you. As well as causing anaemia it can cause dizziness and weakness. We have many women contacting us who do the right thing and go to their doctor who says it is fine and not to worry. Please don’t accept this. If you were bleeding this way from any other part of your body you would be rushed to hospital!. If the doctor still refuses to help, go to Accident and Emergency.

Short periods

Instead of your periods running the usual length of time, you may find they only last a few days. These tend to be light but some women find that they can start to get really heavy.

What should you do? 

If your periods are light there is no need to do anything. If they are heavy then a gentle iron tonic would be a good idea. If they are really heavy, follow the advice above re doctors/A&E.

Long periods

You may find your periods start to run for longer than normal. These can be light or heavy or a combination, usually starting light then getting heavier and heavier.

What should you do? 

Again if they are getting heavy go for an iron tonic, or to the doctor if it’s a case of flooding.


This can happen in between periods or instead of a period, lasting a day or going on for weeks.

What should you do? 

If the spotting is accompanied by pain, especially if it is between periods or it goes on and on, then it is best to check with your doctor.

Painful periods

Some women find they suddenly start to get painful periods when they have not had them before, and some women who have painful periods find that they get worse. Often, if you have missed a few periods then you can get one that is painful too.

What should you do? 

A daily magnesium supplement can often calm this down, and if the painful periods are also closer together you may find the herb Agnus castus helpful. However, if the pain is severe or affecting your daily life do get it checked out by your doctor.

Phantom periods

Even though your periods are missing you still get the usual symptoms and it almost feels like one is coming on. Although your hormones are falling there is still a monthly cycle, not high enough to trigger a bleed but still high enough to give PMS-like symptoms.

What should you do? 

This is very common at the start so you don’t really need to do anything, but a magnesium supplement and a vitamin B Complex may help to ease the symptoms. However, if the pain is severe or affecting your daily life do get it checked out by your doctor.

Periods come back after being missing for a year

Many women find that they can go without a period for over a year or more then suddenly either get a single one back again or a few months’ worth. This is often caused by things such as a ‘last fling’ by your hormones, stress, illness, strenuous exercise, dieting, change of diet (especially if you improve it); even starting a new relationship can ‘re-boot’ your hormones!

What should you do? 

This is very common but remember that you are considered through the menopause after not having had a period for 2 years but if you get a period back you have to start counting from the beginning again, sorry! It is best to get this checked out by your doctor as well.

Periods come back after 2 years or more without any

Same as above but it is really important to check with your doctor.

Periods have changed colour or smell different or you are getting clots

Many women find that the blood looks different, maybe darker and thicker or lighter and thinner and it can smell different. Blood clots can occur at this time too.

What should you do? 

This is very common and usually just part of the hormonal changes going on. However, you can also be more prone to vaginal infections so if these symptoms are accompanied by pain or discomfort then do get them checked out. The same with clots if they are big or you are getting lots of them.

Get in touch!

If you are getting any symptoms that I have not listed or you are wondering about what is happening to your periods please do get in touch with me via email or Live Chat or please feel free to leave a comment below.

Just a word of caution

If any of these symptoms are worrying you in any way at all please go and see your doctor. It is amazing how many women contact us with on-going symptoms and they just don’t want to ‘bother’ their doctor. Remember: it is your National Health Service and that is what your doctor is there for!

Need help to change your menopause for the better? My FREE 7-day plan will provide you with the information, support and advice you need as well as a FREE sample of Menopause Support.

"I started taking the sample pack, definitely felt more in control emotionally and had more energy in a couple of days." Jenny, UK

*UK & Republic of Ireland residents only*

error good
error good
error good

No postcode? Enter manually below.

error good
error good
Please insert your postcode or county good
error good

Menopause Support can provide support to the body through all stages of the Menopause but is especially useful when broad range of symptoms such as hot flushes, irritability, tiredness, pains and aches, vaginal dryness etc kick in.

  • Made from fermented soya beans
  • Support for all stages of the menopause
  • Also contains magnesium and hibiscus

A herbal dietary supplement containing soy isoflavones, magnesium and hibiscus extract for all stages of the menopause.

TIP: Read why so many women recommend Menopause Support for before, during & after the menopause


Add your comments

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required.

Check input OK
Check input OK


  • Laura Davies's photo avatar
    Laura Davies — 10.12.2017 01:47
    Hi I'm 23 and I haven't had a period since maybe I was 21 I'm not sexually intermediate with anyone anymore I had my daughter when I was 20 and I've known that my periods weren't on time but I know that they would come a week or two late but I haven't had one for over 2 years and it's beginning to worry that I might began my menopause at such a young age and knowing that I might had my menopause now I still thinking about having another child and I would hate that I might not be able to give my daughter a baby sister or a baby brother


    • Eileen's photo avatar
      Eileen — 11.12.2017 15:26
      Hello Laura, At 23, you are a bit on the young side to be going through the menopause. Symptoms could be caused by diet, stress, hormonal imbalance or another health condition. I suggest that you ask the GP to test your hormone levels to clarify the root cause. Then you can see what the next step is in terms of treatment. Best wishes


  • Khai's photo avatar
    Khai — 07.12.2017 02:25
    44 and my periods have always been 25 day cycle like clockwork. Past three months they have been almost a week off. I haven’t been sexually active since September (it’s now December) and I’m not on contraceptives. I’ve been pmsing for about two weeks now on and off, bloating and cramps. No period yet. Is something wrong or just period changing leading up to menopause? My mom is not around for me to ask her what to expect. And I don’t know any older women I can talk to about this. Getting depressed


    • eileen's photo avatar
      eileen — 07.12.2017 11:00
      Hi Khai Periods changing like this can often indicate that you are approaching the menopause and getting worse PMS can happen too. However, other health issues could cause similar symptoms at this age so it is a good idea to check with your doctor Ask them to test you for low iron, low thyroid function, low vitamin D and B12 just to rule them out. In the meantime you may find taking a magnesium supplement 200mg daily can help to ease the PMS.


  • Ju's photo avatar
    Ju — 05.12.2017 16:25
    Hi I’m age 50 I’ve just finished my period had clots first 2 days but I take tranexamic tablets finished period day 8 but I’m still wearing a towel because I still feel discharge but when I wipe I’m seeing pinky red blood on tissue sometimes nothing but during the day it’s there is this normal I’m panicking a bit please advise


    • eileen's photo avatar
      eileen — 06.12.2017 12:01
      Hi Ju Periods getting longer or having spotting in-between can happen as you approach the menopause. However, if you are already on medication for heavy bleeding and it is now not working as well it is best to check with your doctor.


    • Ju's photo avatar
      Ju — 06.12.2017 18:57


Menopause support – Soy Isoflavones for all stages of the menopause

60 tablets

£ 14.99

Buy now

Menopause Support can be used to help you through all stages of the menopause.
More info

Here's what I recommend

As the A.Vogel Menopause expert, I recommend Menoforce® Sage tablets and Menopause Support to help you through this stage of your life

Learn more

Did you know?

You won’t get the menopause the minute you turn 50! The average starting age is actually between 45 and 55 and it can often depend on a number of factors including hereditary, weight and health, however every single woman will have an individual menopause.

Learn the truth behind other menopause myths
Ready to Detox? Try my 7 day juice boost for free