Periods - start to finish
Periods also known as: being 'on', 'coming on', 'time of the month'. A period is a monthly bleed that happens approx. every 28
days (some girls cycles are longer, others shorter). Although it might not sound very nice, it is a completely natural and normal process. Plus, it only lasts a few days and shows your body is healthy, fertile
and working properly. In the past, periods were seen as something to feel bad about and came with a whole set of silly myths such as, you couldn't wash your hair while having one, or stand next to milk because it
would curdle. Luckily, these days everyone knows that's rubbish and you can basically have one and carry on and live your life perfectly normally.
Frequently asked questions...
How much blood will I lose?
Despite the fact that the blood flow may look heavy you will only lose about an egg cup full of blood. Bleeding
can last anything from between 3-10 days.
When can I expect my first period?
This usually happens somewhere between the ages of 9 -16 years (or two years after your breasts start
growing). However, don't worry if you start earlier or later than your friends. Our bodies have their own personal body clock for periods and puberty. If you're at all worried, see your GP for reassurance.
How can I work out my period cycle?
To work out approximately when your next period will begin, you need to count forward 28 days from the first day of your period.
Are periods painful?
Periods can sometimes be painful because of the hormone prostaglandin. Some girls
produce too much of this hormone, and this makes the muscles of the womb go into cramp. You may get pains a day or two before your period starts. You can ease the pain by taking a painkiller or exercising or by
placing a hot water bottle on your tummy.
What sanitary protection should I use?
Basically, whatever you feel is right for you and whatever you feel most comfortable with. The choices you have are:
small, compacted absorbent cloth used internally, inserted into the vagina with an applicator or using a finger and has a string to assist removal
towels: a piece of absorbent cloth that's worn outside the body. Some have adhesive strips to help stick to pants (keep away from pubes... you'll never make a mistake like that twice !!!!) or can have loops either
end to attach to a belt.
Any girl having a period can use tampons; it doesn't matter if she's a virgin.
Tampons are rolls of cotton with a string attached to one end. They are inserted into the vagina using an applicator or with a finger, and once in place, cannot be felt. The good news about tampons is you can
be as active as you like with them, and even go swimming. You can also keep tampons in overnight and as long as you change them regularly (at least every eight hours) they are safe (see Toxic Shock Syndrome). You
don't have to worry about them leaking, as long as you use the right size (mini, regular and super); just experiment and find what suits your period flow
most. It's also impossible to lose one inside of you, but
at the end of your period, always make sure you have removed your last tampon as it's sometimes easy to forget it's there.
What is toxic shock syndrome(TSS)?
TSS is a very rare condition caused by bacteria multiplying rapidly and being
absorbed into the bloodstream. While TSS can affect men, women and children, about half of all cases have occurred in women using tampons, but don't worry, very, very few cases have occurred in the UK and as long as
you change your tampons regularly (every eight hours) you don't have to worry.
Pad/towels are now very thin, so no-one can tell if you're wearing one. They are
also hygienic, and don't leak, as long as you change them regularly. These days they also come in a variety of forms - with wings (small adhesive flaps which help the pads stay in place in your pants), ultra thin
(for day wear) and ultra absorbent (for night wear). Basically, you don't have to buy lots of different types, for different days, just experiment until you find a pad which suits you.
Can I get pregnant while having a period?
You can still get pregnant even if you have sex during your period. So make sure you always use a condom.
A quick journey through your fertility cycle
Days 1 -7
Physically: hormones are released from the brain and this kick-starts the production of the female fertility hormone - oestrogen which in turn starts your period cycle.
Emotionally: you might feel relaxed and happy as your hormone level - which affect your moods and feelings - will be low.
Days 7 -14
Physically: oestrogen will cause an egg to be released from your ovaries and at the same time, your womb lining will begin to thicken in preparation for the possible arrival of a fertilised egg.
Emotionally: thanks to oestrogen you might feel at your most attractive right now and your confidence levels will be high.
Days 14 -21
Physically: a ripe egg is released from your ovary in a process known as ovulation. This egg will then travel down the fallopian tubes awaiting possible fertilisation through sex.
Emotionally: you may feel extra sensitive to what people say and do as the ebb and flow of your hormones may give you what's known as pre-menstrual tension/syndrome (PMT) (a collection of physical and emotion symptoms such as breast tenderness, bloating, irritability and tearfulness).
Physically: if the egg is unfertilised it will naturally dissolve. This causes the thickened womb lining to be released (because there's no longer a need for it, as no egg has been fertilised) and your period will begin.
Emotionally: you'll probably feel tired but relaxed as your body gears up for a new cycle.
This usually happens somewhere between the ages of 9 -16 years (or two years after your breasts start growing). However, don't worry if you start earlier or later than your
friends. Our bodies have their own personal body clock for periods and puberty. If you're at all worried, see your GP for reassurance.
There is always a first time for everyone.... here's a check list of some things you'll need...
1. Sanitary protection (tampons/towels/pads)
2. A small bag to keep the unused towels etc. in
3. Wet wipes to clean yourself up
4. Disposal bags for used tampons/towels/pads
5. Bubble bath! Lie back and soak up some cleansing suds.
Basically, whatever you feel is right for you and whatever you feel most comfortable with. The choices you
small, compacted absorbent cloth used internally, inserted into the vagina with an applicator or using a finger and have a string to assist removal
towels: a piece of asorbent cloth that's worn outside the body. Some have adhesive strips to help stick to pants (keep away from pubes... you'll never make a mistake like that twice !!!!) or can have loops either
end to attach to a belt.
You'll get used to your heavy and light days.
Sanitary towels and tampons
will absorb different amounts of blood -look on the packet to see if the absorption rate is right for what you need....here's the kind of thing to look out for - light flow, moderate flow, heavy flow and night time.
Look out for boxes which contain a variety.
Sometimes you might leak! UGH!
But it's something that happens to all girls at some time or other! Just try to change your sanitary protection more often if you can or plan ahead for when things are tricky - like in a double lesson at school or
in bed overnight.
Periods also known as:
That time of the month
link to: sanitary towel, tampons, period cycle