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How Long Will Your Period Last?

“Every woman’s menstrual cycle is a little different,” says Bergquist. “But the typical menstrual cycle lasts three to five days, although a few days shorter or longer can still be normal."

Will You Get Cramps With Your Period?

Cramps can happen when your uterus contracts to help the shedded uterine lining move out of your body. Not all girls have cramps, but if you do, Bergquist says it helps to take anti-inflammatory pain relievers like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin) or naproxen (Aleve, Feminax, Midol). You can buy them at any drugstore or supermarket. It also helps to place a heating pad on the area that hurts, she says.

If you have bad cramps that don't get better with the pain relievers and heating pad, talk to your doctor. Doctors can prescribe stronger or different medicines that help ease cramps.

Will Your Period Affect Your Emotions?

You may have heard that girls and women can get grouchy, weepy, and generally moody around the time of their periods. This is called PMS, and it's caused by the same hormones that bring on menstruation. Some girls do feel emotional changes around the time of their periods, but others don't.

“PMS can take on a variety of primarily psychological symptoms, such as mood irritability and unhappiness, as well as physical symptoms, such as bloating, breast tenderness, or constipation,” says Bergquist. 

If you have PMS, Bergquist says it's important to get adequate sleep, avoid caffeine, and try to eat low-sodium foods. Salt can make you bloat more. If a healthy lifestyle doesn't help, talk to your doctor about medicines that can help ease PMS symptoms.

Are You Prepared?

It’s a good idea to have a couple of tampons and sanitary pads stashed in your locker or book bag in case your period starts when you don't expect it. Bergquist also encourages girls to carry anti-inflammatory pain medicine for cramps, and even a change of panties in case of an accident.

Once you’ve had your period for a while, you’ll see there's nothing mysterious or embarrassing about it. It's part of the natural wonder of how a woman's body works.

Girl to Woman: Your Changing Body

Teen girls: See how your body changes during puberty.
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