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When To See Your Doctor About Your Period


Updated May 28, 2014

When should I see a health care provider about my period?

You should consult your health care provider for the following:

  • If you have not started menstruating by the age of 16.
  • If your period has suddenly stopped.
  • If you are bleeding for more days than usual.
  • If you are bleeding excessively.
  • If you suddenly feel sick after using tampons.
  • If you bleed between periods (more than just a few drops).
  • If you have severe pain during your period.

    How often should I change my pad/tampon?

    Sanitary napkins (pads) should be changed as often as necessary, before the pad is soaked with menstrual flow. Each woman decides for herself what is comfortable. Tampons should be changed often (at least every 4-8 hours). Make sure that you use the lowest absorbency of tampon needed for your flow. For example, do not use super absorbency on the lightest day of your period. This can put you at risk for toxic shock syndrome (TSS). TSS is a rare but potentially deadly disease. Women under 30, especially teenagers, are at a higher risk for TSS. Using any kind of tampon - cotton or rayon of any absorbency - puts a woman at greater risk for TSS than using menstrual pads. The risk of TSS can be lessened or avoided by not using tampons, or by alternating between tampons and pads during your period.

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends the following tips to help avoid tampon problems:

  • Follow package directions for insertion.
  • Choose the lowest absorbency for your flow.
  • Change your tampon at least every 4 to 8 hours.
  • Consider alternating pads with tampons.
  • Know the warning signs of toxic shock syndrome (see below).
  • Don't use tampons between periods.

    If you experience any of the following symptoms while you are menstruating and using tampons, you should contact your health care provider immediately:

  • High fever that appears suddenly
  • Muscle aches
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness and/or fainting
  • Sunburn-like rash
  • Sore throat
  • Bloodshot eyes

    Reprinted from The National Women's Health Information Center - NWHIC
    Updated: 02/01/06

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    5. When Should I See a Health Care Provider About Period Problems? How Often Should I Change Menstrual Pads or Tampons?

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