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A Young Woman's Gyn Health Glossary

Translation, Please!

You might not find it easy to talk about your "equipment," the stuff that makes you female. But if you hold back on asking questions, you can't get answers.

This guide matches up street slang with correct names and straight facts about your body.

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Menstruation Facts and Terms

Formal: Menstruation, of course.

Slang: Time of the month, the crimson tide, on the rag, riding the cotton pony, Aunt Flo (as in "My Aunt Flo is visiting.")

Most common: Your period

Basics: The menstrual cycle is a month-long series of events that prepares your body for pregnancy. If there's no fertilized egg growing in your uterus (womb), it sheds the inner lining. You lose blood for five to seven days.

Periods usually start around age 11 or 12. For most girls and women, they cause only a few days of hassle, maybe mild cramping.

Your choices for absorbing flow have colorful nicknames, too.

Formal: Sanitary pad

Slang: Cotton airplane, mattress, napkins, hammock

Basics: Pads can be made of cotton or other absorbent materials. Sticky tape on one side holds them in your panties to soak up menstrual blood. They can be thin or very thick. "Wings" on the sides help stop the pad from bunching.

Formal: Tampon

Slang: Cork, plug, wick, pen (as in ''My Aunt Flo needs a pen.'')

Basics: Tampons are plugs of cotton or other materials that you slide into your vagina with a cardboard or plastic tube to guide it into place. Once inside, your vagina hugs it so it stays put. You shouldn’t be able to feel it. Sizes range from light to super-absorbent.

Tampons have a string, or wick, that you gently pull to remove them. You should change a tampon every four hours or so to prevent leakage and infection.

PMS and Ovulation

Formal: Premenstrual Syndrome

Slang: Part Monster Syndrome, Pass My Sweatpants, Perpetual Munching Spree

Most common: PMS

Basics: PMS refers to unusual feelings you may have for one to two weeks before your period starts. Your hormones shift during this time. This may cause mood swings, bloating, tender breasts, headaches, or symptoms of depression. Some women have a lot of symptoms, and others don't have much trouble at all.

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