Everything you wanted to know about periods, pads and tampons
A girl’s first period typically happens between age 9 and 16. Periods can be irregular during the first few months or years; this is normal. Once your body adjusts, the cycle can be between 21 and 35 days. Not every woman has a period once a month.
Most periods last from three to seven days, but anywhere from one to eight days may still be normal. It may look like a lot of blood, but there are usually only four to six tablespoons in the whole flow. The rest is uterine lining and other fluids.
Some young women don’t have any clue their period is coming and are surprised when they find blood on their underwear. So they should maintain a calendar not to surprised.
Again, everyone is different. Some young women also feel a little sick to their stomach or get a headache or even diarrhea at the time of their period.
Many women have pain during their period. Medical professionals call this dysmenorrhea, but it’s more commonly known as cramps. Cramps may be accompanied by: nausea and/or vomiting; dizziness; feeling flushed; diarrhea; fatigue; headaches; and back and leg pain.
The amount of menstrual flow varies from woman to woman.
Some signs of menorrhagia include:
- menstrual flow that soaks through at least one sanitary pad or tampon per hour
- having to change pads or tampons overnight
- a period that lasts longer than seven days
- menstrual flow that includes blood clots
- menstrual flow that interferes with your routine
Usually menorrhagia is a symptom of a hormonal imbalance or uterine fibroids. Consult a doctor or a health care provider to help you out.
What are tampons?
Tampons, like pads, are products used to absorb your menstrual flow. They are made of soft cotton pressed together to form a cylinder-like shape, so that they can be easily inserted into the opening of the vagina. A tampon absorbs your menstrual flow, or blood, before it has a chance to leave the body. Tampons come in all different sizes and absorbencies and can be purchased at most convenience stores or supermarkets.
If you think tampons aren’t always successful in preventing leaks, you can use both a tampon and a sanitary pad. Mothers fear that inserting a tampon might damage the hymen. The hymen is not normally damaged by playing sports, using tampons, pelvic examinations or even straddles injuries.
What are Pads?
Pads of various sizes can give you extra protection as back-up for tampons. You can even use thicker, longer pads that are specifically designed for heavy flow days. Also, pads with wings help deter the flow from dripping over the sides.
If you prefer an environmentally friendly alternative, there are washable, reusable pads available called “Glad Rags” (some are even sewn into underwear and sold as a package). Another option is the menstrual cup, a small, washable, and reusable cup-like pouch, similar to a diaphragm that is inserted into the vagina to collect menstrual flow. The cup holds about an ounce of liquid and can be left in for up to 12 hours. Menstrual cups cost around 40 dollars, but they are reusable and can last between 5 and 10 years (making them an affordable, and more environmentally friendly, alternative to disposable products over the long run).
Young women miss their periods for lots of reasons. Some girls who participate in lots of sports or exercise may actually stop menstruating regularly. Stress could be another reason why someone might miss periods. Certain eating disorders, especially when a girl is eating very little and getting thinner and thinner can cause amenorrhea (the medical term for no periods). An imbalance in some hormone levels can also lead to missed periods or irregular bleeding. Unprotected intercourse can also lead to pregnancy which is usually first noticed by not getting your period.
Discussing the issue with a health care provider will also help you become more knowledgeable about and more comfortable with your body.