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How Your Period Makes You Feel

Periods, Pain, PMS


Updated June 03, 2014

Calendar: PMS or Menstruation Cycle
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Some young women say they never get cramps with their periods, while others experience severe pain and fatigue every month. Cramps are caused by your uterus contracting as it works to shed its lining. You can try taking a warm bath or check with a parent or your school nurse to see if you can take an over the counter pain killer. Exercise may also lessen the pain of cramps.

See: How to Relieve Menstrual Cramps

You may have heard of something called premenstrual syndrome, or PMS. PMS is a collection of symptoms that some women get around the time of their periods. PMS can include headaches, back pain, irritability or moodiness, feeling sad or emotional, bloating, and breast tenderness. Some women don't have any of these symptoms, while others have all of them and perhaps a few more. There are some over the counter medications that help lessen PMS symptoms (check with a parent or your school nurse). Cutting back on salty foods and caffeine may also help. If you find that they interfere too much with your daily life, ask your doctor about other things you can do to feel better around your period.


More on PMS

Premenstrual Syndrome Forum - A great place to find support and answers to your PMS and period questions.

Pads vs. tampons:

Maybe you're wondering whether you should be using pads or tampons to absorb your menstrual flow. The choice is really up to you. Read about the Tampon Debate.

See: How to Insert A Tampon

Helpful hints for dealing with your period:

  • Pay attention to your flow so you'll get a sense of how often you need to change your pad or tampon. Using tampons labeled "extra absorbent" are not a good idea. It's better to use a tampon designed for lighter flow and change it more often. You may also wear a mini-pad while using tampons to protect your clothing in case of leakage.

  • Many types of tampons and pads (sometimes you'll see them called feminine hygiene products) are available on the market. With all the choices, it might be hard to know what is right for you. Generally, you can tell how absorbent (how much blood it can hold without leaking) a product is by how it's labeled on the box. Try to match your normal flow and your need for absorbency with the product label. Also read any special recommendations the company has for how to best use their product. After trying a few different types, you will likely find a product that works well for you.

  • Keep a personal calendar where you can mark the first day of your periods and how long they last. You'll get a sense of your cycle and can make sure you have pads or tampons with you around the time when you think your period will start.

  • Be prepared! You might want to have some pads or tampons in your backpack or purse just in case your period starts when you're not home. Even if you haven't had your first period yet, you'll feel good knowing you're ready when your period does start. And if you have a friend who needs a pad or tampon, you'll have one they can use.

Things to know about your period:

  • Your first period may be different from your other periods. It can take several months, or longer, for your period to establish a "routine." Try to be patient with your body while it's entering this new phase of your life, and ask your doctor or school nurse any questions you have. Or you can post your question on our PMS Forum.

  • It's best to use pads or tampons that are not scented with perfumes or other deodorants. The chemicals used in these products may be irritating. Normal blood flow from your period should not cause a bad odor. If you do experience an odor, try to make sure you wash regularly during your period and try changing your pad or tampon more frequently. Ask your doctor about it if it continues.

  • Some women feel shy or embarrassed about buying tampons or pads in the supermarket or drugstore. If you're one of them, try to remember that you're purchasing a product you need for a very normal, natural part of your life.

~Adapted from the Women's Health Information Center

Updated 04/29/06

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