What Happens When You Have A Period

How Long Does A Period Typically Last

Why do women have periods?

There’s a pretty big range of normal when it comes to period length. “Usually, it can last anywhere between five to seven days,” says Jessica Shepherd, MD, a minimally invasive gynecologist in Dallas. “But there are times at which it can be a few days longer or shorter.”

Here’s a little Menstrual Cycle 101: During each cycle, your body’s sending hormones to thicken the lining of the uterus to make it a nice little home for a potentially fertilized egg. About midway through your cycle, one of your ovaries releases an egg, which then travels down the fallopian tubes to this newly plush uterus where, if it’s not fertilized by a sperm, it flows out of the body, along with the uterine lining that built up.

While this process is the same for nearly every woman, the length of their periods might differ depending on their specific hormonal shifts over the course of their cycle, which affects the endometrium development, and in turn, the number of days it takes for it to shed, Dr. Shepherd explains.

So, if your period is a day or two longer or shorter than your usual period length and you don’t notice any other symptoms or issues that seem unusual for you , it’s probably not a reason to be concerned.

Additional Ways To Relieve Menstrual Cramps

  • Apply heat to your abdomen with a heating pad or hot water bottle, or take a warm bath. Heat improves blood flow and may decrease pelvic pain.
  • Lie down and elevate your legs by putting a pillow under your knees.
  • Lie on your side and bring your knees up toward your chest. This will help relieve back pressure.
  • Get regular exercise. This improves blood flow, produces pain-fighting endorphins, and may reduce pain.
  • If you have vaginal pain with cramps, try using pads instead of tampons.

For more information on managing menstrual cramps, see:

Menarche And The Teenage Menstrual Cycle

Menarche is a girl’s first menstrual period. A first period usually happens after breasts, pubic hair, and underarm hair have begun to grow. Menarche is a sign of growing up and becoming a woman. It can happen as early as about age 9 or up to age 15. The first few periods are usually light and irregular. About 2 out of 3 girls have a regular pattern of menstrual periods within 2 years of menarche.footnote 1 During the teen years, periods may become longer and heavier. For more information, see Menarche.

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What Happens When You Get Your Period In Space

It may be a long trip. Don’t forget to pack the tampons. NASAhide caption

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It may be a long trip. Don’t forget to pack the tampons.

Hundreds of you sent in questions for Skunk Bear’s live conversation with three astronauts and NASA’s chief scientist on Tuesday. Thanks! The most common question was: “What happens when you get your period in space?”

I didn’t end up asking them this question because:

a) The question itself has a lot of historical baggage b) The answer is pretty boring.

But since people were genuinely curious, I decided to answer it here.

First, a little history. In the early days of space flight, menstruation was part of the argument for why women shouldn’t become astronauts.

NPR’s Adam Cole posed listeners’ questions to European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, NASA astronaut Serena Auñón, NASA astronaut Cady Coleman and NASA Chief Scientist Ellen Stofan on Tuesday at NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C. Joel Kowsky/NASAhide caption

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NPR’s Adam Cole posed listeners’ questions to European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, NASA astronaut Serena Auñón, NASA astronaut Cady Coleman and NASA Chief Scientist Ellen Stofan on Tuesday at NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Some claimed that menstruation would affect a woman’s ability and blamed several plane crashes on menstruating women. Studies in the 1940s showed this was not the case. Female pilots weren’t impaired by their periods. But the idea wouldn’t die.

Extreme Weight Loss And Eating Disorders

When You Have Your Period, This Is What Happens To You

Excessive or rapid weight loss can cause your period to stop. Not consuming enough calories can interfere with the production of the hormones needed for ovulation.

Youre considered underweight if you have a body mass index lower than 18.5. Along with stopped periods, you may also experience fatigue, headaches, and hair loss.

See your doctor if:

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Pads And Panty Liners

Sanitary pads are rectangular pieces of absorbent material that you stick inside your underwear.

All pads have a sticky strip on the bottom. Thats what attaches the pad to your underwear.

Some have extra material on the sides, known as wings, that you fold over the edges of your underwear. This helps keep the pad in place.

Pads typically need to be changed every four to eight hours, but there isnt a set rule. Simply change it if the material feels sticky or wet.

They come in different sizes. Each size is made to accommodate a different level of bleeding.

Generally speaking, the smaller the pad, the less blood it can hold.

Youll probably use a more absorbent pad at the beginning of your period then switch to something lighter once the bleeding slows down.

You may also find it helpful to wear a heavier pad overnight so you dont have to worry about leakage.

Even the largest pads are still quite thin, so you shouldnt be able to see it through your clothes. If youre worried that people might be able to tell, stick to looser-fit bottoms.

Panty liners are smaller, thinner versions of a sanitary pad.

You may find it helpful to use them a couple of days before your period is supposed to start to prevent accidentally bleeding on your underwear.

You may also want to use panty liners toward the end of your period, as the bleeding may be spotty and unpredictable.

Acne Is A Common Symptom Associated With Pcos

“About 70 percent of patients with PCOS will suffer from some form of acne,” Dr. Amelie Seghers, consultant dermatologist at the Cadogan Clinic in the UK, revealed to Popsugar. Like abnormal hair growth, this is due to the testosterone excess. As GP skin specialist Dr. Ross Perry, also based in the UK, added, “An excess of male hormone can trigger the excess sebum in the skin and dead skin cells that get trapped in the hair follicles, causing breakouts.” Sadly, it’s also more likely that acne caused by PCOS is actually harder to combat than regular acne.

Like most medical syndromes, everyone suffers differently. While one PCOS sufferer may experience hair growth and missed menstrual cycles, others may only experience mild acne and a little weight gain. If you’re yet to be diagnosed but think you may have PCOS, continue to listen to your body and consult your doctor.

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What If I Bleed Through My Clothes Are They Ruined

Not necessarily! Before we get into the nitty-gritty, know that leaks happen to everyone.

When you first start your period, youre learning about how much you bleed, how much your menstrual product can hold, and when your flow is heaviest.

If you can, keep a couple of stain wipes in your bag. They can help get the worst of the stain out and hold things over until youre able to clean the fabric properly.

You can also tie a jacket or sweatshirt around your waist to help cover the stain until youre able to change.

When you get home, try this method to get blood stains off:

  • Soak the stained fabric in cold water as soon as possible. Warm or hot water will cause the stain to set into the fabric, so make sure the water is cold.
  • If you have stain remover handy, nows the time to spray it on. Make sure the affected area is completely soaked. Allow it to sit for as long as the products label recommends.
  • If you dont have a stain remover or you want to double up on your technique rub bar soap or dab liquid soap into the affected area. You should get a small lather, where little bubbles appear on your pants.
  • Rinse and repeat the soap scrub until the stain lifts.
  • If the stain doesnt remove all the way, you can wash the clothing in the washing machine. Just make sure you use cold water instead of warm or hot.
  • Allow the clothing to air-dry. The heat from the dryer can make the stain set permanently.
  • You May Break Out A Lot More When You Have Your Period

    What Is A Period Really Like?

    Though getting a pimple or two isn’t the end of the world and it certainly isn’t as painful as cramps or back pain acne due to your period can still suck. For starters, it’s hard to control period-related acne, and it doesn’t really matter how old you are, either. When you get your period, it’s common to break out.

    Dermatologist Audrey Kunin, MD, of DERMAdoctor.com told WebMD, “As levels of progesterone increase, skin swells and pores are compressed shut.” However, when your pores are shut, it can cause “sebum to build up beneath the skin’s surface,” which then leads to acne, as Kunin added.

    Additionally, breaking out when you have your period is hard to avoid, and you can’t just put on a face mask and wish it away. OB-GYN Elizabeth Gutrecht Lyster, MD, told WebMD that “menstrual-related acne is not a matter of hygiene it is an internal effect.” That said, you should continue to wash your face and stick to your regular skin care regimen to help prevent acne from potentially getting worse.

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    Can I Get Pregnant

    The short answer? Yes. Pregnancy is possible anytime semen comes into contact with the vagina.

    Although the onset of menstruation is widely regarded as the start of your reproductive years, its possible to become pregnant before youve had a period.

    It all comes down to your hormones. In some cases, your body may begin to release ovulation-causing hormones long before it triggers the start of menstruation.

    And when you do begin menstruation, its possible to get pregnant if you have sex during your period. It ultimately comes down to where you are in your menstrual cycle.

    Talk to a trusted adult or reach out to your healthcare provider if:

    • You havent started your period by age 15.
    • Youve had your period for about two years and it isnt regular.
    • You experience bleeding between your periods.
    • You experience severe pain that prevents you from completing daily activities.
    • Your bleeding is so heavy that you have to change your pad or tampon every one to two hours.
    • Your periods last longer than seven days.

    If you call to make an appointment, tell the person whos scheduling it that youre having problems with your period.

    They may ask you to write down details about:

    • when your most recent period started
    • when your most recent period ended
    • when you first noticed your irregular bleeding or other symptoms

    When You Have Pcos This Is What Happens To Your Body

    Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a hormonal condition that impacts more women than you think. Lena Dunham, for one, has been very vocal about her struggles in the past, and according to The Office on Women’s Health, PCOS actually affects one in ten women of childbearing age. In other words, it’s more than likely that someone you personally know suffers from this painful condition. But what exactly is PCOS and when you have it, what happens to your body?

    According to Sherry Ross, M.D., an Ob/gyn and women’s health expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center, PCOS is hard to explain . In the most simple terms, it’s a syndrome caused by an imbalance of reproductive hormones, which causes difficulty with ovulation and small cysts on the ovaries. However, it’s difficult to diagnose, and more often than not it is the symptoms of PCOS and ultimately how it affects your body that are the most telling. Beyond having trouble getting pregnant, this is what happens to your body when you have PCOS.

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    Something Is Off With Your Thyroid

    This gland in your neck regulates your metabolism, produces hormones, controls your body temp, and more. You want it to be on point. When it’s over, or underactive, it may stop ovulation, prompting an irregular period, and possibly impair fertility, according to a new study in The Obstetrician & Gynaecologist. If your doctor suspects this could be the cause she’ll run a simple blood test and probably prescribe a medication. “With the right treatment, your period should go back to normal within a few months,” says Dr. Goist.

    When To Call A Doctor

    Cramping After Ovulation

    There is a broad range of “normal” among menstruating women. Unpredictable or long menstrual cycles are normal for teenagers and women in their 40s. For teens, a normal cycle can be as short as 21 days or as long as 45 daysfootnote 2. If you are a teen, you can expect cycles to even out over time. If you are nearing the age of menopause, you can expect menstrual cycles to become longer and eventually to stop. If you are not a teen and you are not older than 40 and your cycles are shorter than 21 days or longer than 35 days, there is a chance that you have a problem that needs to be checked by your doctor.

    You will need a medical check by a doctor if you have any change in your menstrual pattern or amount of bleeding that affects your daily life. This includes menstrual bleeding, for three or more menstrual cycles, that:

    • Lasts longer than 7 days.
    • Is a sudden or big change from your usual period.
    • Is very heavy. This means that you are passing large clots or soaking through your usual pads or tampons each hour for 2 or more hours.

    Other symptoms you need to have checked include:

    • Bleeding between menstrual periods.
    • Pelvic pain that is not linked to menstrual bleeding and lasts longer than a day.

    If you are a teenage girl, see your doctor if you have not started having periods by age 15.

    For more information, see the topics Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding and Abnormal Uterine Bleeding.

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    Do Transgender Guys Get A Period

    Not everybody who gets a period identifies as a girl or woman. Transgender men and genderqueer people who have uteruses, vaginas, fallopian tubes, and ovaries also get their periods.

    Having a period can be a stressful experience for some trans folks because it’s a reminder that their bodies dont match their true gender identity this discomfort and anxiety is sometimes called gender dysphoria. Other trans people might not be too bothered by their periods. Either reaction is normal and okay.

    Sometimes trans people who havent reached puberty yet take hormones to prevent all of the gendered body changes that happen during puberty, including periods. And people who already get periods can use certain types of birth control that help lighten or stop their periods. Hormone replacement therapy, like taking testosterone, may also stop your period.

    If you start taking testosterone, your period will go away. But this is reversible if you stop taking testosterone, your period will come back. There can be some changes in your menstrual cycle before it stops for good. Periods get lighter and shorter over time, or come when you dont expect it. You may have spotting or cramping every once in a while until you stop getting your period, and sometimes even after it seems to have stopped this is normal. Testosterone injections make your periods go away faster than testosterone cream.

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