What are periods?
A period is what happens every month to those of us that have both our ovaries and a womb. It means that you will bleed from your vagina usually every 28 days. The bleeding can last between 2-7 days.
Why does it happen?
Basically, every month your body gets ready to have a baby. This is known as the menstruation cycle.
Two things happen at this point. One, your ovaries release a miniscule egg which travels along your fallopian tubes and down to your womb. Two, the lining of your womb gets thicker as it prepares to look after this egg if it were to be fertilised (which would grow to be a baby).
If an egg hasn’t been fertilised, (AKA sperm hasn’t entered the egg your ovary released) then your body then gets rid of some of the lining it had been making in your womb, which comes out in the form of blood.
This seems like a lot!
Your body goes through a lot in the 28 day cycle, which is why you might be feeling tired leading up to and during your period! You might feel hungrier than usual during this time too - that's just because your body is using up more energy than usual and therefore is using up more calories, so make sure to keep it well-fuelled!
As well as this, your body will be producing more of the hormone called oestrogen as it prepares to look after the egg. This can mean your mood can change, you can feel bloated and your breasts may feel tender.
When will I get my first period?
Your period usually starts around age 12 – around the time you start going through puberty and your body begins to change. Don’t worry if your period doesn’t start then, some people don’t start theirs until they are much older.
How long do they last?
Every month you will usually bleed for 2-7 days. You will usually get a period monthly until you reach menopause.
Meonpause is when oestrogen levels in your body drop and you stop getting your period and at that point you wouldn’t be able to get pregnant naturally. This usually happens between the ages of 45-55.
How much blood will I lose?
On average you’ll lose around 6 to 8 teaspoons. Your blood can be red at the start of your period and get darker toward the end.
Will it hurt?
It really depends! Some people do suffer from period pain known as cramps, which you’ll usually experience in the lead up to your period starting, as well as the first few days of your period. Cramps are a dull ache below your stomach and around your lower back. But the actual bleeding part of your period doesn’t hurt.
It's not just women that get periods
Monthly periods can also be a reality for some trans men and non-binary people.
If you're a trans man or identify as non-binary, getting your period may bring up a lot of different feelings. Everyone's experience is unique and there is no 'right' way to feel about your period. LGBT Youth Scotland and LGBT Health and Wellbeing and Mermaids UK have lots of information, community meetups and people you can chat to about your experiences.
Head back to the Periods landing page to find out more.