Answers to Your Top Period Questions

It's normal to skip a period from time to time.

What If I Skip a Period?

Relax. It's normal for your period not to be normal -- especially in the first few years after starting your period . Stress, exercise, and sickness can all cause you to miss one. It can happen if you gain or lose a lot of weight. Of course, it can also happen if you're pregnant. If you skip more than two in a row, see your doctor.

It is rare to develop toxic shock syndrome from using tampons.

Do Tampons Cause Toxic Shock Syndrome?

Tampons rarely cause infections leading to TSS. To lower your chances of getting the infection, change your tampon every 4 hours or so. Wear a thinner tampon, too. If you have fever, chills, diarrhea, nausea, or a rash 2-3 days after your period starts, see your doctor.

If you use more than 10 pads or tampons per day, your period may be too heavy.

Is My Period Too Heavy?

It's probably not as much as it seems. Most women lose about 3-4 tablespoons of blood each period. If you use more than 10 pads or tampons a day, or are soaking through a tampon or pad every hour, talk to your doctor.

Most women have periods that last between 3 and 5 days.

How Long Should My Period Last?

For most women, it goes on for 3 to 5 days. If that's not you, don't worry. One can last as few as 2 days of as many as 7. If you're bleeding more than 7 days in a row, talk to your doctor.

Pick your tampon or pad based on how much you're bleeding.

Why the Different Tampon Sizes?

Ranging from light or slender to regular, super, and super plus, different tampons can absorb different amounts. Choose yours based on how much you're bleeding. Don't use a heavier tampon than you need. Remember to change your pads and tampons every 4 hours or so. Use a pad at night to lessen the growth of bacteria on your tampon.

You can get pregnant while you have your period.

Can I Get Pregnant During My Period?

You can get pregnant at any time, even when you're bleeding. If you don't want that, talk to your doctor about using some type of birth control, no matter what time of the month it is. It's also important to protect yourself against STDs, so check with your doctor to make sure you're practicing safe sex.

OTC pain meds, heating pads, hydration, and avoiding caffeine can help alleviate menstrual cramps.

How Do I Get Rid of Cramps?

Try a pain reliever like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen. You can also use a heating pad on your lower back or stomach. Increasing hydration and avoiding caffeine can help. And a warm bath might help you feel better, too.

Cut back on your sodium intake to decrease bloating.

Why Do I Feel So Full During My Period?

When it comes, your body can hold in water and make you feel bloated. When your jeans feel a little tight, cut the salt in your diet and skip the caffeine. It can also help to stay active.

Using a tampon should not hurt.

Does Using a Tampon Hurt?

Not for most women. Remember, your vagina is made to stretch (think childbirth). There should be plenty of room for a tampon to fit. If it hurts, don't force it, especially if it's your first time using one. A lighter absorbency tampon may work better.

Many women crave sugary or salty foods during their period.

Why Do I Crave Junk Food?

We're not sure what exactly causes cravings and other PMS symptoms, but it seems like hormones are involved. Some women really want foods like ice cream, chocolate, and potato chips when their period comes. Need something sweet? Reach for fruits instead. Want fatty, fried, or greasy foods? Choose healthier fatty foods like salmon, nuts, or avocado.

Exercise, avoid salty foods, and cut back on caffeine the week before your period to decrease PMS symptoms.

How Can I Control PMS Symptoms?

You may want to exercise, skip salty foods, and cut back on caffeine the week before your period. If your mood is still tricky, talk to your doctor. They may suggest you take medication.

You can still bleed early in a pregnancy, so it may be hard to tell the difference between a regular period and pregnancy.

A Period Means I'm Not Pregnant, Right?

Not always. Sometimes women can still bleed early in their pregnancy. If the bleeding doesn't seem like a regular period, or if you're nauseated or tired, you may want to see your doctor or take a pregnancy test.

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REFERENCES:

  • American Academy of Family Physicians: "What is PMS?"
  • American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: "Menstruation." Center for Young Women's Health: "A Guide to Using Your First Tampon," "Menstrual Cramps."
  • Children’s Hospital Boston Center for Young Women's Health: "A Guide to Using Your First Tampon." HealthyChildren: "Tampon Safety and Toxic Shock Syndrome."
  • Medscape Reference: "Menorrhagia Clinical Presentation."
  • TeensHealth: "All About Menstruation."
  • The National Women's Health Information Center: "Menstruation and the Menstrual Cycle."
  • The Nemours Center for Children's Health Media: "Toxic Shock Syndrome," "Period Cramps," "Do Tampons Hurt?"
  • UptoDate: "Physiology of the normal menstrual cycle," "Treatment of premenstrual syndrome and premenstrual dysphoric disorder."
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration: "Tampons and Asbestos, Dioxin, & Toxic Shock Syndrome." American Academy of Family Physicians: "What is PMS?"
  • American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: "Menstruation." Center for Young Women's Health: "A Guide to Using Your First Tampon," "Menstrual Cramps."
  • Children’s Hospital Boston Center for Young Women's Health: "A Guide to Using Your First Tampon." HealthyChildren: "Tampon Safety and Toxic Shock Syndrome."
  • Medscape Reference: "Menorrhagia Clinical Presentation."
  • TeensHealth: "All About Menstruation."
  • The National Women's Health Information Center: "Menstruation and the Menstrual Cycle."
  • The Nemours Center for Children's Health Media: "Toxic Shock Syndrome," "Period Cramps," "Do Tampons Hurt?"
  • UptoDate: "Physiology of the normal menstrual cycle," "Treatment of premenstrual syndrome and premenstrual dysphoric disorder."
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration: "Tampons and Asbestos, Dioxin, & Toxic Shock Syndrome."
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