I've been getting a lot of questions about periods - mostly from girls wondering if what's going on with their bodies is normal, and if there are any cures for their worst period woes. The answers to your most pressing questions are below. If I missed any, feel free to ask the community - anonymously, if you want - in the Teen Advice Forum
What Age Do People Get Their First Periods?
Most girls get their first periods between the ages of 11 and 14, but you might be younger or older than that when you get yours - there's no "right" age to get it. Ask your mother when she got her first period. It's a good indication of when yours might come.
What are the Signs That My Period is Coming?
The signs are a little different for everyone, and as you get older, you'll get really good at reading your body. Some things to look for, though, are sore breasts, back pain, cranky moods, constipation, a bloated belly, depression, a big appetite and a breakout of a couple zits. You won't experience all
of these symptoms before your period every month, but you might experience some.
My Period is Brown Instead of Blood-Colored. Is That Bad?
It's totally normal, especially at the beginning and end of your period. All it means is that your menstrual fluid is leaving your body more slowly. (It's brown because it has a longer time to oxidize, the same way that blood from the rest of your body turns brown after it's been exposed to air for a while.)
What Can I Do About the Pain I Feel During My Periods?
When you've got your period, sometimes the best thing you can do is take a bath, put on some sweats and relax. To lessen the pain, you can try over-the-counter pain relievers, herbal tea, meditation or placing a hot water bottle on your belly. You might also want to stay away from greasy or spicy foods.
What's a "Normal" Amount to Menstruate?
Most women's periods last about two to six days. That includes one or two days of heavy flow at the beginning (meaning you're changing your pad or tampon every hour or two), followed by a couple of lighter flow days. The amount you menstruate can vary from month to month, and that's totally normal. But if your period is so heavy that you have to change your pad or tampon more than once an hour, or if the menstrual blood is coming out in a steady stream that won't stop, or if your period lasts longer than seven days, you need to go to your doctor.
Can You Delay Your Period From Coming, Or Stop It Once It's Started?
There's no natural way to change the day of your period or make it end more quickly. There are some birth control pills out there that can make your period only come a couple of times a year, but those aren't safe for everyone, and they come with some side effects
that you might think are worse than getting your period once a month. Talk to your doctor if you're thinking about trying birth control pills.
What Does It Mean if You Have Irregular Periods?
Most women's cycles are around 28 days, but different women might have different cycles - and your own schedule might change from month to month due to stress, sickness or a change in your weight. The first two years after you get your first period, your period can be especially irregular - you might even skip whole months. As long as you get your period eventually, it's not a big deal.
Can You Get Pregnant While On Your Period?
Yes - if you have unsafe vaginal sex
, you can get pregnant during any part of your menstrual cycle, including when you're on your period. To make sure that doesn't happen, you need to practice safe sex
and use a condom every single time you have sex.
My Period is Late. What Does It Mean, and What Should I Do?
Don't freak out. Not everyone's periods come exactly 28 days after the last one, especially in your first two years of "being a woman." If you've got any reason to believe you're pregnant, though, get yourself to a drug store and take a home pregnancy test
right away. (Remember: the only way to get pregnant is by having vaginal sex
Can You Have Your Period and Still Be Pregnant?
No. You can't be pregnant and have your period at the same time. Sometimes pregnant women experience vaginal bleeding, which they might confuse for their period, but it's not the same thing.
What is "Spotting" and Why Does It Happen?
Spotting means a light blood flow in between your periods. Not everyone gets it, and while it's not harmful, it might be annoying. If you're a spotter, you might want to get into the habit of wearing panty liners every day (or at least around the times of your cycle that you've noticed spotting).
Which Should I Use - Tampons or Pads?
A lot of women prefer tampons because they're more discreet and you can swim with them, but it can take some practice to learn how to insert them. Also, using tampons comes with a small risk of toxic shock syndrome
. So if you want to stick with pads, that's fine. It's all a matter of what you're comfortable with.