FAQs.

Menstruation

 

What is PMS?

PMS stands for Pre-Menstrual Syndrome and includes, both, physical and emotional symptoms. A few days before your period, you may start feeling some soreness or heaviness in your breasts, your stomach may feel bloated and you may get a few pimples. Similarly, you may get headaches, backaches, nausea and food cravings. Additionally, thanks to the fluctuating hormone levels, you may also feel more moody, sad or emotional than usual. That's PMS!

The good news is for most women it's not that big a deal - some women get some of these symptoms and some women have no problems at all. For those that may be experiencing these, exercise and hot baths can help level out the mood swings and some natural health types swear by vitamin B, herb teas and massage.

Just try to remember that these symptoms tend to disappear when your period begins and your hormone levels even out! Also, once you get to know your own cycle, you begin to be able to predict when PMS symptoms will hit; knowing where they're coming from and when to expect them will help you handle them better.

If your various symptoms seem to be particularly intense and getting in the way of your enjoyment of life, ask your doctor for treatment options.

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My breasts always hurt right before my period. Why? How can I prevent this?

Right before your period your oestrogen and progesterone (the hormones coursing through your system that are responsible for the womanly changes) levels are fluctuating, causing fluid to build up in your breasts, making them sore and heavy-feeling. Though the degree of soreness varies this is totally normal. You can't really prevent this but you can try over-the-counter PMS medicine, avoid salt and caffeine and maybe wear a nice supportive jog bra if your breasts really bother you.

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How much blood do I lose during a period?

It varies a lot from woman to woman, but it tends to be from around four tablespoons to as much as a cup. If you're bleeding more than that, soaking tampon after tampon or pad after pad all day long you should see your doctor.

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The colour and consistency of my bleeding changes. Is this normal?

Sometimes the blood will be red, sometimes it may be brown. Sometimes it may be streaky and sometimes it's got some darker bits in it. There is nothing to worry about, these variances are completely normal.

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I heard I can actually get pregnant during my period?

You heard correctly! Women with very short (21 days or so) or irregular cycles may well be ovulating while they're still bleeding, which means they could still get pregnant even during their period. If you have more questions regarding fertility and your period, we recommend you talk to your doctor.

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What can I do about menstrual cramps during my period?

Menstrual cramps vary a lot in intensity, from woman to woman and, even, from cycle to cycle. You can take aspirin or other non-prescription painkillers, do mild exercise (stretches are good), or try to distract yourself with a book or video. Warmth is often helpful as well so you can try taking a hot bath or putting a hot water bottle on your stomach or lower back. If your cramps are really bad, talk to a health-care professional about prescription treatment options.

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What if my flow is really heavy and I have to use lots of pads?

A heavy flow is normal for some women, especially during the first day or two of your period. However, if you have a prolonged heavy flow, you should check with your doctor.

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Will I have to stop all activities such as sports when I have my period?

Absolutely not! Believe it or not, the more active you are, the less likely you are to have cramps. Check out the Our Product section to see all the products Kotex® has to offer you to allow you to go about doing your normal activities - that is, if you feel like it!

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How often will I get my period?

Though every 28 days is average, your cycle can range anywhere between 21 and 45 days. At first, your period will probably be irregular; the time between when you get it, the length of time you have it and the amount of flow will all vary. Within a year or two of the start of menstruation, most women's bodies adjust and periods tend to settle into a regular pattern. If you need a bit of extra help following your cycle try marking your periods on a calendar.

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Can I go swimming when I have my period?

Absolutely. However, make sure you do not wear a pad, as it will just soak up the water. If you do go swimming, you should wear a tampon, but you should talk this over with your parent or other responsible adult before trying this.

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Will other people know I'm having my period?

There's no reason for others to know when you're having your period. Unless you want to tell them!

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Can I take a bath when I have my period?

Definitely. In fact, a bath or a shower is really important at this time to keep you clean and to fight off any odours that may occur. Also, women tend to sweat more during their period so taking a bath or a shower will also help you feel more fresh.

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What is menstruation, anyway?

Biologically speaking, menstruation is a woman's monthly opportunity to create a baby. When a woman's body first becomes able to produce a child, usually between the ages of 9 and 16, (a time known as menarche ("muh-NAR-key")) it begins preparation once a month for possible motherhood. A tiny egg matures in one of the ovaries and then travels down a fallopian tube toward the uterus. Meanwhile, the uterus has been preparing for the egg's arrival, and its lining has gotten thick and velvety. If the arriving egg is fertilized by a sperm, the uterus will be able to protect and nourish it for the next nine months. If the egg doesn't get fertilized, then there is no use for that thick, spongy lining, which is then shed and flushed out (along with the disintegrated egg). For 3 to 6 days each month, all this stuff is what flows out of your body as menstrual flow. After the onset of menstruation, you'll usually have a menstrual period about every 28 days (except during pregnancy), although your cycle may vary anywhere from 21 to 45 days. This cyclic process stops when your ovaries stop producing eggs and periods stop, which happens when your body enters menopause (about 35-40 years after it's started!).

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What does it mean if my period is late or irregular?

After the first year or two, when your period tends to be irregular, you should've begun to menstruate regularly, though some women don't. Missing a period may be a sign of pregnancy if you've been sexually active. However, other causes of irregularity may be stress, a change in your diet or an increase in exercise, or drug use. If none of these apply to you, or if you're still concerned, make sure you check with your doctor.

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Why do I feel irritable and sad just before my period starts?

Some women feel moody, anxious or depressed for several days before their period. These feelings are part of a group of physical and emotional symptoms known as Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS). Some women don't experience PMS at all; others experience it in varying degrees and, for those, these symptoms are very real. These emotional and physical changes are due to the hormonal changes that take place prior to menstruation, but that fortunately disappear when your period begins and your hormone levels even out again. The emotions and problems that seemed overwhelming suddenly feel manageable. When you get to know your own cycle, you begin to be able to predict when PMS symptoms will hit; knowing where they're coming from and when to expect them will help you handle them better. If, however, you're having particular bad PMS, you might want to talk to your doctor about options.

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Why do I feel fat during my period?

Just before and during your period, your body may tend to retain more water. This added fluid might make you feel fat or make your breasts feel tender. It is also normal to gain a couple of pounds during this time of the month -- and lose them right after your period. Avoiding salt immediately before and during your period is a good idea as salt increases water retention.

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What if I bleed through my clothes?

Well, it happens to almost all of us at one time or another, so don't panic. Just tie a sweater or jacket around your waist or untuck your shirt to cover any possible stain. (If you don't have a sweater on you, ask a girlfriend to borrow hers. This is what sisterhood is all about!) Then get yourself a tampon or pad and head to the bathroom. If possible, try to scrub out any noticeable spot. For future reference, you might want to stash an extra pair of knickers in your handbag and wear darker clothes on days when you're expecting your period or when your flow is at its heaviest. Similarly, make sure you wear the right product for your flow and plan on changing on a regular basis - not waiting until it's too late!

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Please note that the contents of this section are for informational purposes only, and are not intended as medical advice or as a substitute to your doctor's advice. For medical care and advice, you should consult your doctor on a regular basis. If you have any problem which concerns you, consult your doctor immediately.