Menstruation or your period is a monthly bleeding from the vagina
Your period can begin anytime during puberty and a period can last between 2 and 7 days. Almost every healthy girl will get her period at some point during puberty and it is an important sign that she is becoming a woman. It is caused by the release of an egg from the ovaries and the body’s preparation for pregnancy. If the egg and its protective lining are not used, they leave the body as a period. It's normal to lose around five teaspoons of blood during your period, but this usually looks like much more.
Will you get PMS (premenstrual syndrome)?
Many girls have PMS in the days before their period so it’s possible. This is caused by hormonal changes and can make you feel bloated, with cramps (stomach pains), be irritable or have sore breasts. You may also feel tired or have a backache or a headache. A couple of days after your period you start to feel better again. Some girls find that exercise or paracetamol helps relieve PMS feelings. Or, you might not have any PMS feelings at all.
What should you do during your period?
When you get your first period, always talk to an adult for advice. You can use sanitary pads/towels or tampons to soak up the blood. Most people try both and decide which they are more comfortable with. Pads are worn inside your underwear and should be changed several times a day.
Tampons are worn inside the body and need to be changed every four hours to prevent the risk of TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome), a very rare infection. Make sure to read the full instructions in the tampon box before using them. Also, eco-friendly alternatives to tampons and pads are becoming more popular. Ask your local health food store if they have them.
If your period is very painful, hold a hot water bottle against your stomach and take a painkiller such as aspirin or ibuprofen. The combined pill is very good for painful periods, but there are other alternatives. Your doctor will be able to advise you of these.
Toxic Shock Syndrome
Tampons are totally safe if you use them correctly. Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) is a rare and sometimes fatal bacterial illness. It is usually associated with super-absorbent tampons that are not changed often enough.
Symptoms include headaches, being sick, rashes, muscle pain, high fever and diarrhoea. Anyone can use tampons, but it may be a good idea to start off with pads until you get to understand your periods, like how heavy or light they are, how long they last and what they feel like.
Take the following precautions to avoid TSS:
- Only use a tampon during your period.
- Change tampons frequently, at least every four hours.
- Use the least absorbent one you can.
- Don't sleep while wearing a tampon.
- Wash your hands before and after inserting a tampon.
What happens if your period stops?
A missed period could mean that you are pregnant. But periods may stop altogether if you lose a lot of weight or if you're exercising to extreme or training hard. Being worried or stressed about something in your life can also cause periods to be late. If any of these occur, consult your doctor for advice.
Sex during your period
You are most likely to get pregnant when you're ovulating, but the time you ovulate can vary from month to month. Also, sperm can live in the body for around five or six days so pregnancy is possible at virtually any time in your cycle. Boys produce around 300 million sperm when they ejaculate and it takes only ONE to make you pregnant! Always use contraception!