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Teen Girls' Health

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All About Menstruation

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.

It is possible to skip a month, especially if you have been ill or under stress. (Tell your health care provider at once, however, if you miss a period and are having sexual intercourse. Even if you are using effective birth control, pregnancy is a possibility!) But skipping for more than one month once your periods have become regular is another reason for a doctor visit.

When your period becomes regular, mark the date on your calendar for several months ahead. This will remind you to have tampons or pads on hand and help prevent accidents.

What Is Ovulation?

Ovulation is the release of a mature egg from a woman's ovary. It usually happens around mid cycle (about 14 days from the start of your last period).

Some might feel abdominal discomfort at the time of ovulation, but it’s usually very brief. This discomfort, medically called by its German name mittelschmerz (pain in the middle), can usually be relieved by the same medication used for cramps.

What About PMS?

Premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, happens to many teens right before their periods start. With PMS, you might feel:

  • Mild breast tenderness
  • Fluid retention
  • Anxiety
  • Dietary cravings
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty sleeping or excessive sleeping

When menstruation begins, PMS symptoms decrease.

Some young women find that they cry easily and are more emotional during this time. Understanding the feelings that come with PMS may help you cope with the emotions. If your symptoms are serious and interfere with your life, discuss them with your health care practitioner.

Should I Use Tampons or Pads?

Teens can use tampons, pads, or both during their period. Tampons are worn inside the vagina and come in a variety of sizes (small to large) with different absorbencies (light to super heavy).  It’s important to change a tampon at least every four hours to avoid leakage and serious bacterial infections.

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