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Period 101

Periods can be confusing, and sometimes we need to brush up on what’s going on down there. Here are some basic questions and answers to help you stay ahead of your period.

WHY DO WE GET IT?

Between the ages of 9-13 (usually), all girls go through that life stage known as puberty. Basically, it starts with a rapid growth spurt - so you grow a few inches, your breasts bud, and then gasp - hair in new places. Finally a sticky white discharge is spotted on your underwear. It’s ok! This is just your body prepping for its first period. Once that happens, you are officially done with puberty.

CYCLE OR PERIOD?

This can get confusing. Basically, the first day of your period is the beginning of your menstrual cycle. Your hormones get all out of whack (which is why you may find a stray zit or that you’re acting kind of strange and irritable). This happens every month and signals your body to prepare an egg and the uterus for pregnancy. If your egg isn’t fertilized by a sperm, then the unfertilized egg is shed and you get your period. Thus, your menstrual cycle is over when your next period begins.

HOW DOES THIS ALL HAPPEN?

Both of your ovaries contain all of the eggs you will produce in a lifetime. Once a month, you ovulate, which is when one egg matures and takes a little trip out of the ovary, through the fallopian tube and to the uterus. Your "flow" or period then goes from the uterus through the opening of the cervix, through the vagina and out of your body.

QUICK FACTS:
  • Most periods last 3 to 8 days. The average duration is 6 days.
  • On average, girls get their period between 12 and 13 years old.
  • It usually takes one to three years after your first period to settle into a regular cycle.
  • It seems like so much more, but typically we lose less than 4 tablespoons (60ml) of blood during our period
  • Your period is the first phase of your monthly cycle. Called the follicular phase, it signals that a mature egg is released from the ovary.
  • Before your period, it’s common to experience breast tenderness, bloating, headache, swelling of the extremities and cramping.

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