We answer frequently asked questions about your period.
For most girls an entire period consists of anywhere from a few spoonfuls to less than 1/2 cup of blood — it just looks like a lot!
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 doctor for reassurance.
To work out approximately when your next period will begin, you need to count forward 28 days from the first day of your period. That said, some girls will find that their menstrual cycle lasts 28 days, whereas others might have a 24-day cycle, a 30-day cycle, or even a 35-day cycle.
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 cramp. You may get pains a day or two before your period starts. You can ease the pain by taking a painkiller, exercising or by placing a hot water bottle on your stomach.
Basically, whatever you feel is right for you and whatever you feel most comfortable with. The choices you have are:
Tampons: Tampons are rolls of cotton with a string attached to one end. They are inserted into the vagina with an applicator or by using your finger and have a string to remove them. Once in place, tampons cannot be felt. Any girl having a period can use tampons; it doesn't matter if she’s a virgin. The good news about tampons is you can be as active as you like with them, and even go swimming. 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.
Sanitary pads: A sanitary pad is a piece of asorbent cloth that's worn outside the body. They have adhesive strips to help them stick to your undies. Make sure you keep the adhesive strips away from pubes to avoid them tearing them... you'll never make a mistake like that twice!. Pads 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). You don't have to buy lots of different types - just experiment until you find a pad which suits you.
TSS is a very rare condition caused by bacteria multiplying rapidly and being absorbed into the bloodstream. TSS can affect men, women and children and some cases have occurred in women using tampons. It is important to remember that the bacteria are the cause of the illness - not the tampon. There’s no need to avoid tampons or worry about it. Just make sure you try to use a tampon with the lowest absorbancy suitable for your needs and change it as often as directed on the pack.
You can still get pregnant even if you have sex during your period. So make sure you always use a condom.