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All About Menstruation

What Does a Menstrual Period Feel Like? continued...

Simple but effective non-prescription pain relieving medications can ease symptoms. These include acetaminophen (Tylenol) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs include medications like ibuprofen (such as Motrin and Advil) and naproxen (such as Aleve). These drugs block the effects of prostaglandin hormones.

Discuss symptoms with your primary health care practitioner, so you can find the best medications and dosage.

Talk to your primary health care provider or your gynecologist if:

  • Your cramps are severe
  • Your bleeding is excessive, lasts longer than 7 days, occurs often or at the wrong time of your cycle
  • If you have not had your first period by age 16
  • If it has been 3 months since your last period
  • You think you might be pregnant
  • You develop fever and feel sick after tampon use

Cramps are normally worst during the first two to three days of your period, then ease as prostaglandin levels in the body return to normal. If cramps stay about the same throughout your period, or if over-the-counter painkillers don't really work, see a doctor.

Always ask your primary health care provider any questions you have about your period, making sure you clearly and completely describe any concerns.

How Long Does a Period Last?

Your first period may last from two to seven days. Then, there might be 21 to 40 days or even longer before you have another period. Your next period might be heavier or lighter than the first.

Don't worry if your early periods have longer cycles or don't follow a schedule. This irregularity is normal for at least the first 2 years.

Your periods should become more regular within two years after you start menstruating. Some teens have a 28-day cycle; some have a 24-day cycle; others have a 30- to 34-day cycle. All of these are normal. For young teens, cycles can range from 21 to 45 days. For adults, it can be 21-35 days. If your period is much shorter or longer, or if your period does not become regular after two years, see your primary health care provider.

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