Why do I menstruate?
Every 21-35 days the lining of your uterus builds up to prepare for a fertilized egg to implant. This rich area is where a baby will develop if you fall pregnant. If a fertilized egg does not attach itself to the lining of your uterus because you did not have sex or you used contraception, your body will expel this lining during your period.
What do I do about the blood?
Your period will last for a 3-7 days and you will need to wear something in your panties that will catch the blood so you can protect your clothes. Your choices are:
- Sanitary pads: some are thin, some are thick and they are made of cotton wool which holds the blood. Pads should be changed every few hours. You can buy pads at pharmacies and most grocery shops.
- A cloth: make sure it’s clean and able to soak up the blood. Fold it to fit comfortably in your panties. Change the cloth when it’s full and remember to wash it with soap and water. You could use an old T-shirt.
- Tampons: a small tube of compressed cotton wool that you insert inside your vagina to soak up the blood. Tampons look tricky to use at first, but they’re actually very easy. You can only use one tampon at a time. When you insert a tampon, keep the little string hanging out of your vagina – so you can pull out the tampon when you need to change it. You can buy tampons at pharmacies and grocery shops.
How much menstrual blood?
Some girls bleed more heavily on the first days of menstruation with the flow becoming lighter towards the end. Some girls start menstruation with a few days of light flow, followed by two or three days of heavy flow that goes down slowly. Some girls have a more or less equal amount of flow on each day. In all cases, it doesn't come out very quickly. You lose about 2–6 tablespoons of menstrual fluid during your period, but only about half of it (1-3 tablespoons) is blood. Even during heavy flow, you should not soak more than one sanitary pad an hour. Most often you will change them every 4-6 hours.
What’s that smell?
Menstrual blood doesn’t smell but if you don’t change your pad or cloth regularly, it will start to smell.
But I didn’t get my period?
If you haven’t had your period by the time you are 15 or if you don’t have a period for more than 3 months, there might be a health problem or, if you have had unprotected sex, you could be pregnant. It’s a good idea to see a nurse or doctor for a check-up.
Having a period is normal. There is no need to feel ashamed of it. You are part of the cycle of life! Find ways to make menstruation more comfortable for yourself.