Periods: your monthly reminder from Mother Nature that your body is a miracle of engineering, and that you are a superhuman with a body that shows up for you every minute of every day… Period talk can be a little awkward, but it really shouldn’t be. Sometimes we feel too embarrassed to ask questions or ask for help because really, the world makes us feel like we are just expected to know everything about periods. Well, don’t you worry! We’ve chatted with some of our doctor friends and experts, and have answers to some of the period questions they get every single day, from people just like you!
Can I Wear The Same Pad/Tampon All Day?
No, it’s not a very good idea to go an entire day without changing pads, pantiliners, or tampons. No matter how light your flow is, or even if there is no flow, bacteria can build up.
Changing your pad/tampon every 3 or 4 hours (more if your period is heavy) is good hygiene and helps prevent bad odours. This is especially true if you’ll be playing sports or rushing around from class to class.
Changing pads/tampons often also helps prevent accidental leaks. If your period suddenly gets heavier when you least expect it, you’ll be wearing a fresh pad that can absorb the extra flow.
How Do You Know If Your Period Is Regular?
You’ll often hear the words “monthly cycle” to describe periods — but that can make it seem as if all periods happen like clockwork every 4 weeks! The truth is, different people have different cycles.
A cycle is the number of days from the start of your period to the start of your next one. On average, it’s 28 days. But cycle lengths vary — some have a 24-day cycle, and some have a 34-day cycle. It’s common to skip periods or have periods come at different times, especially in the first few years after beginning menstruation. Other things that affect cycles include diet, stress, exercise, and, occasionally, illness.
Try not to worry if you can’t figure out your cycle for the first couple of years after you start getting your period. Things should settle down eventually. But if your period isn’t coming regularly, if it’s very uncomfortable or heavy, or if it’s stopped, be sure to talk to your doctor.
Is It Normal Not To Have Your Period By 14/15?
A person usually gets their first periods between the ages of 8 and 15. However, some people start puberty a little earlier or later than others.
Just because you’re 14 and haven’t gotten your period yet doesn’t necessarily mean that anything’s wrong with you. Some might not be getting their first periods for other reasons. Some don’t get their periods because of hormone imbalances. People who are underweight or who have eating disorders may notice a delay in the start of their periods. Others who are very athletic might not get their periods until they stop exercising or competing so vigorously. Severe stress or some illnesses also can delay menstruation.
Of course, if you have questions or concerns about when you’ll get your period, talk to your doctor. And let your doctor know if you don’t get your period by the time you’re 15, or by 3 years after you started puberty.
Is It Normal for Period Blood to Come Out in Clumps?
Seeing clumps can be a bit of a shocker, but don’t worry. It’s perfectly normal to notice some clumps from time to time during your period. So what are they you might ask? These are blood clots that may contain tissue. As the uterus sheds its lining, this tissue leaves the body as a natural part of the menstrual cycle. So clots of tissue are usually nothing to be concerned about. But if you notice large or frequent clots, talk to your doctor to make sure your period is normal.
If you notice your periods are heavy, this might mean your period soaks through more than one pad or tampon every 1–2 hours, talk to your doctor too. They will help to reassure you or solve any issue that you might be experiencing.
Can Birth Control Help With Cramps?
Cramps are one of the most common things experienced during your period. But did you know there are lots of things you can try to reduce the pain? These include:
- Taking medicines such as ibuprofen or paracetamol.
- Exercising releases lots of natural chemicals in your body, which have been proven to reduce pain.
- Soaking in a warm bath or popping a hot water bottle on your tummy can help relax your muscles.
It may sound strange, but when these methods don’t work, birth control can actually help with cramps — and are often prescribed for this reason.
Birth control works because it decreases the amount of prostaglandins — chemicals your body produces to make the muscles of the uterus contract. With fewer contractions, there is less pain. Birth control pills also can decrease the amount of blood flow with a person’s period. Even if you don’t think you’re interested in birth control pills, if you have severe cramps that keep you home from school or from doing stuff with your friends or that seem to be worsening over time, visit your doctor for some advice.
So, has this answered some of your burning questions? Or do you have some more? We know period talk can be weird, but don’t worry, you won’t spontaneously combust is you say the word period out loud! It is a totally normal part of being human.
We encourage you to visit your GP and have a chat with them. They are the experts after all, and we promise you, they deal with a lot more unusual things every day, than periods! They are there to reassure you and educate you.
For more information on all things periods, please visit the HSE website here.
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