The dilemmas and confusions associated with periods are a known affair for women. As soon as we are on our menarche, puberty hits our body and mind, and things start changing all of a sudden. A lot of girls wish to talk to their mother or someone who will understand them, but shy away or hesitate to openly talk about the issue.
Getting the first period is a cue that you are stepping into womanhood. Let me start by saying that it is nothing to be afraid of and you need not stay quiet about it as menstruation is a natural process every woman goes through.
Recently, we conducted a survey amongst some teenage girls and came out with 13 common questions that linger in their minds. The questions were listed out and sent across to experts for the right advice.
Take a look at the queries and what the experts have to say about it.
- Anna asks: I am 13, and I started menstruating 5 months ago, but it has returned only once. Is it ok to have irregular periods? Was it periods or was I bleeding due to a different reason?
Expert says: It is absolutely fine to get irregular periods in the first 2 years. Your system is picking up with the menstrual cycle and would slowly become normal with time.
From what you have said I reckon that it is just a glitch in the body and nothing else. If you find any abnormal symptoms, visit a Gynecologist.
- Rebecca asks: I’ve been menstruating for a couple of years now. My periods usually last for more than a week and starts again within the next 20-25 days after the onset. But it doesn’t cause me any pain or discomforts. Will it affect my body at a later stage?
Expert says: Ideally 3-5 days of menstrual bleeding is considered normal. If you bleed profusely more than a week, it could be an underlying condition which may harm you later if ignored for long. So, attend this concern as soon as possible.
28 days are considered to be the standard break between periods. But, it is normal to have a gap of 21-35 days and varies from person to person.
- Eryn asks: I feel bloated during periods and usually get pain on the first two days. Why does that happen?
Expert says: Bloating during periods is a common phenomenon. It happens due to hormonal changes that triggers excess water retention. You can avoid bloating by drinking a lot of water and sweating it out.
Muscle contractions in the uterus cause period cramps. It is induced by the hormone – prostaglandin, which aids in shedding of uterine lining.
Two to three days of pain before or during periods is fine unless it is too severe to bear.
- Maya asks: I find a buttery fluid in my panties. Is it some sort of infection?
Expert says: The fluid is called cervical mucus. It could be dry, sticky or moist and vary with your menstrual cycle.
An indication of infection is when cervical mucus becomes smelly or turns green or gray in color. Maintain vaginal hygiene to avoid infection.
- Pearl asks: My menstrual blood is dark brown in color and not red. Is that normal?
Expert says: Period blood fluctuates in color and flow throughout periods. Generally at the beginning, period blood might appear bright or dark red and as you are nearing the end of your cycle, it will become brown, dark brown or even black.
It is absolutely normal as long as you have regular and normal cycle.
- Priya asks: What should I use, tampons or pads? Does tampon hurt?
Expert says: Either tampons or sanitary pads/napkins are fine as long as you are comfortable using them.
Pads absorb period blood from outside and tampons are inserted in the vagina to absorb the flow. They are available in different sizes meant for heavy and light periods.
If you are using pads, it is hygienic to change it within 3-4 hours and tampons need to be changed within 4-6 hours. Or else, it could cause irritation or rashes to sensitive skin.
Choose tampons if you are going for a swim or vigorous physical activities during periods. But do not force it in if your vaginal opening is too tight to hold a tampon. Relax and be gentle while inserting the tampon if you are trying it for the first time. Also, pick a day when your flow is less (by the end of periods usually) and go for a smaller-sized tampon.
You would have definitely heard about Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) linked with the usage of superabsorbent tampons. It is a perilous condition leading to a shock-state, caused by toxin-producing bacteria. Well, it is very rare, therefore, pay attention to TSS symptoms and change your tampons time to time to prevent it.
- Katalin asks: I am part of the soccer team in my school and we have coaching on alternate days. Should I be taking rest during periods?
Rachel asks: Can I work out or practice yoga during periods?
Expert says: Yes absolutely, carry on with your practice and wok out sessions as long as it doesn’t tire your body or cause unusual pain.
In fact, you can avoid period cramps by being active and doing some light physical activities.
Skip moves that strain your abdomen and inversions, as it may disrupt the normalcy of period flow.
- Chloe asks: I take contraceptive pills to delay my periods. Will it have adverse effects on my body?
Expert says: To be honest, this is a tricky question. Researches and studies have proven it either ways and have not arrived at a unanimous conclusion.
A few studies say that women can totally avoid periods by consistently depending on these pills. It is much helpful for women who go through traumatic periods every month.
There are acceptable side effects of using contraceptives such as irregular periods, mood changes, headache, nausea, dizziness, breast tenderness and mild blood clots. It is acceptable only when they are low in intensity.
Certain studies have showcased that there are high risks involved in using contraceptives including cancer and heart stroke. The risks can be aggravated by other factors like smoking, unhealthy lifestyle, age, obesity and past or present medical conditions.
Hence, don’t jump into choosing any pill. Fix an appointment with your doctor, have a detailed discussion about your body and which pill you should take. Also read through the entire package leaflet before taking the pills.
Natalie asks: I am 14 years old. All my friends have periods and I have not started yet. My mother and sister had it at the age of 12. Could there be a problem with me?
Expert says: Hi Natalie. You are not late for menarche.
Though the average age of menarche is 12, it is perfectly fine if you get it between 10 and 15. If it occurs before or after the mentioned age, you need to consult a gynecologist as it might occur due to some medical conditions.
The onset of your first period is not only genetic but also depends on factors like diet, lifestyle, weight, health and more.
So let your body work as per its schedule while you get prepared for the first period.
- Ellie asks: Can I have sexual intercourse during periods?
Expert says: The long-prevailing myth that sexual intercourse during periods is unhygienic is absolutely discarded. It is safe and natural to have sex during periods.
Sex while menstruating could take away cramps and other distressing symptoms allied with periods. Women tend to bleed out faster and get done with periods sooner.
But know that you can get pregnant during periods as well. So use birth control even while periods.
The risk that accompanies sexual intercourse during menstruation can be getting prone to Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and other vaginal infections. Hence take the right precautionary measures like condom to prevent the possibility of such conditions.
Ashley asks: Why do I get acne during periods and my friends don’t? What can I do to stop the outbreaks?
Expert says: These acne breakouts are called menstrual or hormonal acne. They are produced as a result of hormonal fluctuations that your body goes through before and during periods.
First thing you can do is keep your face clean and nourished, and follow a good diet. Avoid stress, smoking and skin dehydration.
If acne flare-ups go unruly and you are unable to treat it with regular methods, visit a dermatologist for proper guidance and treatment.
Noah asks: Isn’t bleeding unhealthy? How much blood am I supposed to lose during my period?
Expert says: Period bleeding is absolutely healthy when normal; it is just a natural process of a woman’s reproductive system.
What makes it unhealthy is when some amount of nutrients is passed out through the bleeding, which has to be compensated through your diet.
If you are feeling tired and worn out during periods, consult your doctor. Most probably you are in need of some supplements.
Aaliyah asks: Can you tell me how to identify when periods are not normal and when to consult a doctor?
When your system doesn’t function properly it usually gives you hints and symptoms to detect some sort of abnormalities.
Following is the checklist that you need to keep in mind:
Bleeding between periods
Bleeding after intercourse
Bleeding after menopause
Spotting between periods
Heavier and/or longer days of bleeding
Severe pelvic pain
If you experience the above symptoms, consult a doctor immediately.
I suppose most of your queries are answered here. If you have anything else to know, get in touch with us to talk to specialists and find answers to your queries.