Menstruation (also known as having your period) is when blood from your uterus drips out of your vagina for a few days every month. You start getting your period during puberty, usually when you’re around 12-15 years old but some people get them earlier or later than that. There’s no way to know exactly when you’ll get it, but you may feel some Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) symptoms a few days before it happens.
If you don’t get your period by the time you’re 16, it’s a good idea to visit a doctor.
Most people stop getting their period when they’re between 45 and 55 years old – this is called menopause.
Your period may start and stop around the time it did for other people you’re related to, like your mom or sisters.
Most people get their period every 21-35 days – around once a month (that’s why periods are sometimes called “that time of the month”). The bleeding lasts for 2-7 days – it’s different for everyone. Your period might not always come at the same time each month, especially when you first start getting it. It can take a few years for your period to settle into its natural rhythm, and some people never get regular periods throughout their lives.
There are lots of ways to deal with the blood that comes out of your vagina when you have your period. You can use pads, tampons, or a menstrual cup.
How do I know if my period is coming?
Some people get signs that their periods are coming – like bloating, pimples, sore breasts, and feeling emotional. Many people get cramps in their stomach, lower back, or legs before their period. These symptoms are called PMS. Not everybody has signs that their periods are about to start. And sometimes the signs change month-to-month. As you get older, it usually gets easier to tell when your period is coming.
Many people mark the days they have their period on their calendar or on an app. Keeping track of your periods will help you know when your next period is coming. It can also tell you if your period is late or early. It’s really common to have periods that don’t come at the exact same time every month – especially when you’re a teenager.
Keeping a pad in your bag can help you be prepared for your period, no matter when it shows up. If you start your period and don’t have a pad, you can ask a parent, friend, teacher, or the school nurse for one. Some bathrooms also have vending machines where you can buy a pad. If you’re REALLY stuck somewhere without a pad, you can fold up a bunch of toilet paper or a clean sock or washcloth and put it in your underwear to soak up the blood.
If your clothes accidentally get stained, you can wrap a sweater around your waist or ask to go home. You can also keep a change of clothes in your locker / car.
What’s a normal period?
Normal periods are different from person to person. They can also change over your lifetime. During your period, it’s normal to bleed anywhere from 2 to 7 days. It may seem like a lot of blood comes out, but most people only lose about 1-6 tablespoons of blood and tissue during each period. Period blood can be red, brown, or pink. It’s also normal for it to be kind of clumpy at times. If your period is so heavy that you have to change maxi pads every hour, it’s best to see a doctor.
During the first few years of your period, it might not always come at the same time every month. You may bleed more or less, or have different PMS symptoms month-to-month. As you get older, periods usually get more regular and it’ll be easier to know what’s “normal” for you.
Even though it’s normal to have periods that aren’t always regular, missing a period can be a sign of pregnancy.
How do I know if my period has ended?
- You might get a white discharge which comes from the womb to show that the period is over, or
- You are completely dry.