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Does Your Menstrual Cycle Change with Age? We Asked Our Experts – Fertile Ground – Tempdrop Blog

Does Your Menstrual Cycle Change with Age? We Asked Our Experts

Lisa Cartier
By Lisa Cartier
Kelly Hendrickse - Editor for Tempdrop
Edited by Kelly Hendrickse

Published September 26, 2023.

A woman sitting in a bathroom, holding a tampon.

If you're wondering whether your menstrual cycle gets shorter or longer with age, if periods get lighter as you get older, or how often periods change, this expert-informed guide is for you. With cycle changes typically occurring every decade, understanding how your body functions in relation to your cycle is key.

Holistic fertility and hormone coach, Lisa Cartier, unpacks how your menstrual cycle changes over time and how a conscious path to fertility and conception goes hand-in-hand with it.

Understanding Teenage Hormonal Cycles

Teenagers' cycles are very erratic because it takes a certain amount of time for their cycles to become regular, to work correctly, and for the hormones (such as progesterone or estrogen) to function the way they are supposed to.

The biggest thing with teens is that their ovaries can take a few years to learn what they need to do, often leading to irregular cycles.

Impact of Birth Control

"One of the issues that I have with doctors putting teens on birth control is that if they are experiencing a heavy period or erratic cycles or pain, then doctors just assume that putting them on the pill will take care of all of that."

Birth control shuts down your ovaries. In the future, when teenagers stop using hormonal birth control, they may experience difficulties because their ovaries might not function as expected as they haven't had the chance to develop properly.

» Learn about the causes of spotting mid-cycle

Understanding Menstrual Cycles In Your Twenties

In your twenties, it's generally expected that your menstrual cycle will become regular, with cycles lasting between 28 to 34 days, and menstruation lasting 3 to 7 days. However, some cycles may last longer than 35 days due to a later ovulation event. During this time, the consistency of your cycles remains fairly constant, and bleeding patterns are predictable.

Why is My Menstrual Cycle Getting Longer in My 20s?

If you've been on hormonal birth control, then that would affect your cycle. "Lifestyle choices and stress levels play a significant role, especially for 20-year-olds who often juggle college and job searches," explains Cartier.

This can cause cortisol imbalances, which influence hormone function.

Menstrual Cycles In Your Thirties

As you enter your thirties, you may start having babies or have already given birth. This transition brings about significant hormonal shifts. While it may be challenging, it's possible to restore regularity to your cycle as your body retains some pre-pregnancy characteristics.

However, some women may experience secondary infertility, where they struggle to conceive after having one child, due to:

  • Stress
  • Nutrition
  • Hormonal changes

By closely tracking your cycle, you may notice erratic patterns at the beginning of the postpartum period, which could indicate excess estrogen and numerous other factors. Postpartum charting can help you navigate your cycle as it changes and restores back to pre-pregnancy status, including more regular ovulation.

Why Is My Menstrual Cycle Getting Shorter in My 30s?

If you have a lighter period in your 30s, your menstrual cycle lasts for about 3 days, or if your luteal phase is very short, it is important to investigate further.

These factors can indicate issues with ovulation triggers not being completed on time. When examining ovulation, there are three key factors to consider:

  • Cervical mucus changes
  • Temperature fluctuations
  • LH surges

These should all align, and any discrepancies can lead to shorter or less frequent cycles.

» Worried about irregular periods? Check out these surprising causes

Menstruation In Your Forties

As you enter your forties, particularly the mid-forties, you begin to experience perimenopause, which usually lasts about 10 to 12 years.

During this phase, our hormones naturally start to shift, with a decrease in estrogen and changes in progesterone levels. These changes prepare your body for the transition into post-menopause, where your adrenals take over hormone production.

"This can influence cortisol levels more, meaning we have to work a little harder to manage our stress levels and stabilize our blood sugar."

The extent of changes depends on your cycles' characteristics before perimenopause. If you had regular cycles without experiencing premenstrual syndrome (PMS) before entering perimenopause, you are likely to have a smoother transition into menopause. (Menopause typically occurs after having no period for 12 months).

What Is a Normal Menstrual Cycle for a 40-year-old?

Due to perimenopause, menstrual cycles around this age, and even in your fifties, can undergo significant shifts, with periods getting shorter or lighter, longer, less frequent, or even heavier.

Factors That Affect Menstruation in Your Forties

Your body will adjust to the changes that come with this phase. And some changes are normal, as long as you're still producing hormones. To understand what's happening, pay attention to the following factors:

  • Lifestyle
  • Nutrition
  • Bone composition may change and deplete

Ultimately, the outcome may depend on your actions and choices leading up to your forties.

Hormonal Changes and Menstrual Cycles

As you age, your hormones undergo changes in preparation for perimenopause and menopause that can be influenced by:


Stress causes large amounts of cortisol production. Cortisol should be rising in the morning when you wake up so that it gives you the energy for your day. Then, in the late afternoon or early evening, cortisol levels should start to drop so that your sleep hormones can come into play.

If you're not sleeping, that is when your body is going through all detoxing and your hormones doing what they're supposed to be doing. So if that's shut down, then you cannot complete that process correctly, which greatly influences your health.

Note: If you have too much cortisol, and you don't get that jump start in the morning, you tend to consume more high-caffeine drinks and sugar since your blood sugar levels are impacted by the imbalanced cortisol.

Environmental Triggers

These triggers (xenoestrogens), which include pesticides in food, can affect hormone receptors, preventing hormones from functioning properly or even at all. Consequently, these factors can contribute to longer menstrual cycles.

» Discover how to use your period to connect to your cycle

Hormonal Fluctuations And Fertility Health

"If there are huge fluctuations, this means that there is something going on internally. And one of the things that we're really not ever told or talked to about is how ovulation is the foundation of female health."

If you're not ovulating consistently, it affects your overall health. So how does that happen? There might be secondary infections or really bad stress that has contributed to harming your health, including your heart and gut health.

Obviously, ovulation changes throughout your years, but it should still be happening the way it's supposed to and consistently.

Factors to Consider

When working with clients, I always consider three crucial factors:

  • Liver detoxification
  • Gut health
  • Blood sugar stabilization

By examining these factors at different times, you can gain a better understanding of why menstrual cycles may become longer or heavier. For example, a heavy flow often indicates an excess of estrogen, so assessing whether the liver is detoxifying properly or if blood sugar levels are stable is crucial.

The Importance of Tracking Your Menstrual Cycle

When you track your cycle regularly, you can clearly observe your hormonal patterns and the shifts in those hormones. By paying attention to these changes, you can identify any issues and investigate what might be causing them.

If you consistently notice significant changes or issues in your cycle, it may be time to get your hormone levels checked. This proactive approach allows you to take action for your own health and well-being. "Remember, it's not just about your menstrual cycle; it's about everything that's happening in your body," says Cartier.

» Want to know more? See how charting your cycle every day can help you

Cycle Charting For a Health Overview

Anytime cycle and hormone levels change, it's crucial to look at what's going on internally. If there are issues with your cycle, it could indicate that certain systems in your body are not functioning correctly.

So, taking a comprehensive look at various health factors and charting your cycle provides us with valuable information. It serves as your first line of defence in understanding your hormonal and overall health. With Tempdrop, you can easily track your menstruation, ovulation, sleep patterns, and more for an overview of your fertility health.