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Periods are also known as "being on", "time of the month", "the blob", "the painters", "jam week", or "the bastards". In the past periods were seen as something bad and many myths were talked about such as you couldn"t wash your hair or stand next to milk because it would curdle. Periods are natural for girls and women between certain ages. A period is bleeding through a girl or woman"s vagina that lasts for a few days.

It can take some time to get used to having periods and dealing with them. But periods are a sign that your body is working, and they are a normal, healthy, special part of being female.

When do periods start?

Periods usually start when a girl is around 12 or 13, but could be as young as eight or as old as 17.

Why do women have periods?

Girls are born with thousands of eggs inside their ovaries. When you reach puberty, an egg is released every month. The egg moves along the fallopian tube to your womb. The womb is where a baby would grow if the egg was fertilised by sperm from a man.

Your womb gets ready for a possible pregnancy each month and its lining becomes thick and soft. When your body knows that no baby is growing, the lining and the egg pass out of your body through the vagina. This is your period. You wont be able to see the egg as its much too tiny.

The time between one period and the next is called the menstrual cycle. This can be 28 days, but many girls have a cycle thats longer or shorter than that.

How long will I have periods for?

Until you are about 50. Women who are pregnant stop having periods.

Will I know when a period is about to start?

Your breasts may become a bit sore or a bit larger. You may get spots on your face or feel a bit moody the week before your period starts and some women get stomach cramps just before it starts. Your period can often start when you dont expect it, especially in the first year or so.

How much blood will I lose during a period?

It may look like a lot, but its only about 4-6 tablespoons.

How long will my period last?

Some girls may bleed for two days, others for eight days. Periods come about once every month, but your body needs practice to get this right. So, for the first year or more, the time between your periods may be different, but after a while they should become regular.

When can a girl become pregnant?

When she reaches puberty and starts having periods and has unprotected sexual intercourse

Can a girl get pregnant during her periods?

Yes, if she has unprotected sex. The time when your body releases an egg can vary and a boy’s sperm can live in your body for several days.

What to use

You can use either sanitary towels or tampons to soak up the blood. Towels soak up the blood as it leaves your body and are usually worn in your knickers. Tampons fit inside the vagina and absorb the blood before it leaves the body. It may take a little practice before you get used to inserting tampons.

Towels and tampons come in different sizes, according to how heavily you bleed. You should change a towel or tampon several times a day every four hours or sooner and remember to wash your hands before and after you do this. Always check that youve taken out your last tampon at the end of your period.

Some times, girls can have problems with tampons. If you have two or more of the following - being sick, a rash, sore throat, sudden fever, diarrhoea - stop using tampons and see your doctor straight away

You should dispose of both in sanitary bins, rather than flushing them down the toilet.

Further Information

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