Adulting 101 – Periods

One of my favourite YouTubers at the moment is Kalyn Nicholson who is a lifestyle YouTuber that has a series titled ‘How to Adult 101’ in which she addresses various topics associated with becoming an adult. This got me thinking about how little I actually know about being an adult and so I thought it would be a good idea to do some research and share my findings in the form of a blog post.

For my first post of the series, I decided to concentrate on periods. I know this isn’t strictly an adult thing, in that most girls get their periods before they turn 18, but it’s one of the first steps of puberty which is the transition to becoming an adult.

Firstly, what exactly is a period? A period is when the womb sheds its lining, which occurs approximately every 28 days. Every month or so, the lining of the uterus gets thicker in preparation for a fertilised egg. If the woman does not get pregnant, this extra lining has to be disposed of, which is done via blood through the vagina, alternatively known as a period.

How often should I get my period? The average number of days between the first day of your period is 28 days but it can vary from 21 to 40 days.

I haven’t started my period yet, am I normal? The average age to start your period is 12, but some girls can start as early as 8 years old or as late as 16 years old. If you haven’t started your period by the time you are 16, you are advised to see your GP. However, there are a number of reasons why you might not have started, including being underweight, doing lots of exercise or a hormone imbalance.

How much blood is ‘normal’ to be losing? Between 3-5 tablespoons.

Should I be using pads or tampons? This is purely personal preference. Pads are easier to use whilst tampons are more discrete and can be worn swimming.

How often should I change my pad/tampon? Tampons and pads should be changed every 4-8 hours and tampons should never be left in for longer than 8 hours.

What is Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS)? Toxic Shock Syndrome is caused by the release of a poisonous substance from an overgrowth of bacteria found in women’s bodies. It affects menstruating women due to the fact that a tampon saturated with blood is a good place for rapid growth of bacteria. Symptoms tend to appear after 2 days following infection and can include a fever, headache, rash, vomiting, kidney problems and respiratory problems. This is why it is important to change your tampon regularly to prevent the build-up of bacteria.

What is the incidence rate of TSS? A study carried out in 2000-2006 found an incidence rate of 0.52 people per 100,000.

Can I use the toilet whilst using a tampon? Yes – urine comes out of a separate hole to your vagina so you can use the toilet whilst wearing a tampon. You might want to move the string of your tampon to the side to avoid getting it wet though!

How can I reduce period pain? There are many different ways to reduce your period pain and different things work for different ways. Common methods include eating more vitamin E which is found in nuts and leafy greens, placing a hot water bottle over your lower stomach, massaging your lower stomach or lower back, participating in light exercise, taking painkillers, taking the contraceptive pill and orgasming, either by masturbation or having sex (as long as you are over the legal age in your country).

Ibuprofen or Paracetemol for pain relief? Ibuprofen and NSAIDs in general are thought to be more effective in relieving period pains than paracetemol and codeine.

How can I reduce bloating? The two main ways to reduce bloating are to eat less salt and drink more water.

What foods are best to eat on my period? Different foods help with different aspects of your period. For fatigue management, you should eat oats, dark chocolate and red meat. For a mood-boost, berries, oily fish, avocados and greek yogurt are thought to work best. For pain relief it’s best to eat avocados, pineapple, hummus and green vegetables.

Can I have sex whilst on my period? Yes, just be prepared that it might get a bit messy! It is probably best to put down a towel if you’re period is quite heavy. There is no reason other than personal preference (and being underage) not to have sex on your period if you want to.

Will using a tampon take my virginity? Short answer: no. Virginity is traditionally thought of as the stretching of the hymen, which is a piece of tissue located at the opening of the vagina which, most of the time, have a hole big enough for period blood to come out and for tampons to fit through. However, even if it does stretch the hymen, this could have occurred through several other non-sexual activities including riding a bike or playing sports.

Why do my friends get their period the same time as me? This is not a coincidence, it happens for a reason. It’s part of evolution to prevent women on their periods from being singled out and targeted by men. (Editor’s Note: This is kinda cool!)

Disclaimer: Although this post was written by myself, it is based off information from various sites including Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire and NHS Choices.

Comment below whether you would like to see more blog posts in this series and any suggestions for upcoming posts.

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