Your period is the part of your monthly cycle when you bleed. It’s just one part of your monthly cycle and happens every 3-4 weeks.
Your cycle starts each month when your womb creates a fresh layer of blood-rich membrane known as the endometrial lining. This is your body preparing for pregnancy.
The next stage is ovulation, when an egg is released from one of your ovaries and travels to your womb.
If the egg meets a sperm cell on its way to your womb and fertilisation takes place, you can become pregnant. If it doesn’t, your body will remove the unused blood-rich membrane lining your womb. This is your period.
Your period starts and you bleed for 3-7 days. This is repeated every month unless you fall pregnant.
Everybody is different, but periods start any time from the age of 10 and about 50% of girls will have started their period by the age of 12. Every girl is different and you might start your period earlier than other girls or be the last one of your friends to start. It’s not a competition though and your body will start when it’s ready to.
Most girls and women find that periods last for about 5-7 days. When you first start your periods though, it can all be a bit unpredictable and you might find you only bleed for a couple of days. After a couple of years though, your body will settle into a pattern that is unique to you and you’ll get to know how many days of bleeding to expect.
It may seem like you bleed a lot during your period, but most girls normally lose between 4 and 12 teaspoons of blood during an average period. Change your pad at least every 4 hours, but at the start of your period, you may bleed more heavily and need to change it every 2-3 hours.
Discharge is perfectly normal and is your body’s way of keeping your vagina clean and healthy. It tends to change in both colour and appearance during the month and normal discharge ranges in colour from colourless or milky white to yellow and has no smell. If you think your discharge looks different from normal or starts to smell unpleasant, talk to a nurse, pharmacist or doctor just to check everything is ok and you don’t have an infection.
A warm bath and a hot water bottle are great for easing period pain, while staying active and eating healthily can help with that bloated feeling many girls get. You can also ask your pharmacist to suggest painkillers if your period pain is affecting your schoolwork or ability to enjoy spending time with your friends.
It’s normal for girls to wonder about their breasts and the size of them. Whether you think yours are too big or too small and will never grow. The thing you must remember is that every woman is different in the shape and size of their breasts. It is also normal for one breast to be bigger than the other, especially when they first start growing. When they first start growing they may feel a little achy or itchy. When you have your period your breasts may feel a little sensitive or sore, this is normal. Let your doctor know if you find a lump or have a pain you really are not sure about.
Because your body is going through a big change you might feel a little uncomfortable and shyer about it. You might also feel more moody. This is completely normal; all girls go through this. Each young woman grows and changes at her own pace. Remember you are beautiful and everything will happen in due time.
How you feel during your period depends on a lot of things. Some girls find they hardly notice it at all, while other girls have a lot of period pain such as cramps and generally feel a bit tired, bloated and more emotional. Your hormones, how much exercise you do and how healthy your diet is can all affect how you feel. There’s not much you can do about your hormones, but healthy eating and exercise can help you feel better no matter where you are in your monthly cycle.
If you’re worried about any smell, changing your pad often and keeping up good hygiene especially when you have your period will help with this. You should check to see if your pad needs to be changed every few hours and don’t wait until it is soaked with blood.
That dull ache are the muscles of the uterus or womb contracting to get rid of the inner lining of the womb, which is no longer needed if fertilisation did not occur. It’s amazing that the body prepares for this every single month. If only it wasn’t such a pain.
We would suggest seeing a doctor if the pain is so severe, it’s holding you back from normal day-to-day activities. Your period shouldn’t prevent you from attending school or work, or even socialising with friends.
This is mainly caused by hormonal changes during your cycle which impacts the sebaceous, or - less of a tongue twister - the oil glands. But look, it’s not fully understood why some people get it worse than others. It could be genetic, or because of an unhealthy lifestyle. The usual suspects are an unbalanced diet, smoking and of course, stress doesn’t help.
Apart from eating those veggies and practicing self-care to reduce stress, a daily skincare routine is essential. This consists of 3 basic steps: cleanse, tone and moisturise to unclog those pores and keep your skin nice and healthy.
Just as every one of us is different, so are our periods. This is mainly genetic, but other factors can affect the menstrual flow and cycle for example stress and also some medical conditions (like endometriosis). We would definitely encourage you to chat to your doctor or clinic nurse if you experience the following irregularities:
-Bleeding between periods
-Excessively prolonged heavy flow, that saturates the pad in 1 or 2hrs
-Excessive blood clots
-If menstruation doesn’t start by the age of 17
-Periods which are consistently irregular after more than 2 years of menstruation
-Absence of period for several months after menses is established
Correct. Menstrual flow comes in an array of colours and normally depends on the day of your cycle. During the heavy flow days it can be bright red because it’s fresh and then it can become light pinkish - or light brownish - in the beginning, and/or end of your period, as the flow becomes less and less. This is sometimes referred to as spotting. Don’t be afraid of darker shades too, this just means your blood is a little old.
Discharge, yay! We're glad we’re chatting about this. It’s a natural mucous liquid produced by your body that passes through the vagina. Every woman experiences vaginal discharge of some kind. It really isn’t a big deal.
Discharge can be a lot of things. It can be clear and colourless, yellowy or white. It can be thin and watery, thickish or even slightly sticky. And it has quite a specific smell, but it doesn’t smell bad. It can also change in appearance during the month.
PMS is usually related to emotional changes or upheaval caused by hormonal changes around your period. Many girls and women struggle with this and it can be hard, not only on them but also on family and friends around them, especially if they don’t understand what’s going on. Common feelings are sensitivity, teariness, irritability, tiredness, and bad moods. What often goes hand in hand with these emotional changes are some physical discomforts too:
-Breasts may swell slightly and become tender
-Abdomen may feel bloated
-Weight gain because of fluid retention in the uterus
-Lower back pain
-Feelings of mild fatigue
-Pimples and acne conditions may flare up because the oil glands become more active during this time
-Increased perspiration due to the sweat glands being more active during menstruation
You’ve got to find ways to manage your PMS so it doesn't get the better of you every month. Good nutrition, rest and exercise all help. And then try to be open about how you’re feeling with those close to you, so they can understand what you’re going through and can bring you tea, or tell you you look amazing while you’re feeling a little bloated.
Start by speaking to somebody you trust and feel comfortable talking to. If that’s an older female figure, remember they have gone through this too and will have some great advice to give. I would suggest telling them you want to talk about something personal and then find a nice comfortable spot to chat.
Of course! Guys should be included in these conversations. My advice is not to overthink it and trust that they’ll be understanding - it’s a natural thing after all. If they do seem uncomfortable that’s fine too, it’s all part of the learning process and you should never feel ashamed.