Periods are a part of a monthly cycle where the menstrual lining of the uterus sheds. The average cycle lasts 28 days, but there is a lot of variation.
Periods normally last between 3 and 8 days, but it is most common for them to last for 5.
Crucial: Some things can change how often you have periods, like being ill, or using some kinds of contraception.
Starting your periods
About a year after your body starts puberty, your periods will start. The normal range for starting your period is anywhere between the age of 8 and 14, and the average age is 11. If it hasn’t started by the time you turn 16, you can speak with your GP or School Health Nurse.
Instant Expert: Read all about puberty and your periods on the NHS website.
It is a good idea to carry sanitary protection if it is near the time when your period is due. If your period comes on and you’re not prepared, don’t panic! It is always okay to ask friends, a member of staff at school, or if you're out and about to nip into a shop for supplies. If you're not sure about the best sanitary protection for you, you can speak to your school health nurse. They’ll be glad to help you out.
Crucial: Lots of women use a period app to track when their period is due. This provides reminders so you won't be caught out!
Tampons, pads, cups and more
There are lots of different kinds of sanitary protection.
Many people start with pads, which have absorbent material. They come in different sizes and shapes, including smaller sizes for teenagers. Other solutions like period pants are available.
You can start using tampons as soon as you like. They can be helpful if you have a heavy period, or if you are doing sport like swimming. Make sure to change a tampon every four hours or sooner.
There are other options including menstrual cups.
Crucial: Your period can also make you feel ill, tired, or stressed. Some people may get cramps, or feel irritable. Find out more from The Mix.
I had regular periods and then they stopped!
If your periods have started and suddenly stopped, it’s important to talk to a health professional.
There are different reasons why your period can stop:
- If you are having sex, you could be pregnant
- If you are ill or have lost a lot of weight for another reason
- Stress and some other health conditions can also sometimes stop periods
Some types of contraception can also stop or change your period.
Crucial: You can get pregnant at any point in your cycle, even when you have your period. Always use contraception.
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