A period is the part of the menstrual cycle when a woman bleeds from her vagina for a few days.
For most women this happens every 28 days or so, but it's common for periods to start sooner or later than this, ranging from day 24 to day 35.
Your period can last between three and eight days, but it will usually last for about five days. The bleeding tends to be heaviest in the first two days.
When your period is at its heaviest, the blood will be red. On lighter days, it may be pink, brown or black.
You'll lose about 30 to 72 millilitres (5 to 12 teaspoons) of blood during your period, although some women bleed more heavily than this.
1. What is a period and why do we have them?
Simply put: A period is when a woman’s body releases tissue it no longer needs. This tissue comes from the uterus, which is where a baby (fetus) can develop in the female body. Every month or so, the uterus lining gets thicker to prepare for a fertilized egg if the woman becomes pregnant. If the egg doesn’t get fertilized, that lining is released from the body as blood through the vagina. This monthly process is called menstruation or a period.
So when a girl has her period, her body is just getting rid of a small amount of blood and some unneeded tissue. It is a natural, normal body process for all females as they become women and mature physically.
2. What does a period feel like?
The actual flow of your period doesn’t feel like much when it’s happening. Chances are, you won’t even feel it coming out. When you actually start your period, you may feel some dampness in your private area — this may be caused by a few spots of blood on your underwear.
3. Does having your period smell?
It shouldn’t! Menstrual odor happens when menstrual fluid comes in contact with air. When menstrual fluid is absorbed within the vagina, like through a tampon, it is not exposed to the air, so there shouldn’t be an odor. If you’re feeling worried, just be sure to change your pads and tampons frequently to help keep odor at bay.
4. Does having your period hurt?
Menstruation itself doesn’t hurt, but some girls and women get cramps or other symptoms during their periods that may be uncomfortable. This is typically due to the hormones your body releases during menstruation that cause the uterus to contract so it can shed it’s lining.
5. I got my period and I haven't told my mom yet. It's really hard for me to talk about things like this. I have a lot of questions. What should I do?
Lots of girls have the same concern. Your mom will be one of your best resources when you have questions about your period, so try to start the conversation yourself! Know that she will be understanding and helpful. Actually, she may be your best friend during this time in your life. Still don’t feel like you can talk to your mom? An aunt, friend’s mom or older sister are also great women to ask.
6. Is it OK to have a bath or shower when I have my period?
Yep! During your period, it’s important to keep yourself fresh and clean. They’re a simple way to stay feeling feminine and fresh. ALWAYS Incredibly Thin Liners and ALWAYS Xtra Protection Liners are great choices for daily liners that help you feel dry, fresh and confident every day.
7. Is there anything I won’t be able to do when I have my period?
Your period doesn’t have to stop you from doing things you usually do. You can still go to school, help at home, see your friends, play sports and do all the things you’d normally do.
Tip: See the whole line of ALWAYS products so you can pick the best fit for your lifestyle and flow.
8. Will anyone, like boys or my mom, notice when I have my period?
No — not unless you tell them! If they ask you, it’s totally up to you to share or not.
9. How much blood do I lose during my period?
Most girls lose about 1/4 cup of menstrual fluid during their periods (mostly in the first few days). Not to worry, though — your body makes up for it.
10. When will I stop having my period for good?
Women get periods until menopause, which is when menstruation and the ability to have children stops. In most women, it usually happens in their late 40sor early 50s. But menopause can happen earlier or later. Some women may stop menstruation by the time they're 35 years old, and others may not stop until their late 50s.
Sanitary products absorb or collect the blood released during your period. The main types of sanitary products are described below.
Sanitary pads are strips of padding that have a sticky side you attach to your underwear to hold them in place. One side of the pad is made of a special absorbent material that soaks up the blood.
Many women use sanitary pads when they first start their period because they're easy to use. They come in many sizes, so you can change them depending on how heavy or light your period is.
Pantyliners are a smaller and thinner type of sanitary pad that can be used on days when your period is very light.
Tampons are small tubes of cotton wool that you insert into your vagina to absorb the blood before it comes out of your body. There's a string at one end of the tampon, which you pull to remove it.
Tampons come with instructions that explain how to use them. If the tampon is inserted correctly, you shouldn't be able to feel it. If you can feel it or it hurts, it might not be in properly.
It isn't possible for a tampon to get stuck or lost inside you. Your vagina holds it firmly in place and it expands inside you as it soaks up the blood.
For more information, see:
Menstrual cups are an alternative to sanitary pads and tampons. The cup is made from medical-grade silicone and you put it inside your vagina.
Menstrual cups collect the blood rather than absorbing it. Unlike sanitary pads and tampons, which are thrown away after they've been used, menstrual cups can be washed and used again.
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
Changes in your body's hormone levels before your monthly period can cause physical and emotional changes.
This is often known as premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or premenstrual tension (PMT).
There are many possible symptoms of PMS, but typical symptoms include:
- feeling bloated
- breast tenderness
- mood swings
- feeling irritable
- loss of interest in sex
These symptoms usually improve when your period starts and disappear a few days afterwards. PMS doesn't affect all women who have periods.