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What’s a period? & Why do we get periods?

Let’s learn about our periods!


Luna teaches periods on the blackboard

You’ve probably heard your older sister or friends talk about “getting their periods” and using “pads and tampons”.

And you’re probably asking yourself what is a period?

Asking questions is a great place to start! The more you learn about your body, the more you will be prepared for your period!

By the end of this post, you will know what it means to start puberty, what a period is, why we get periods, why we bleed, and whether or not you’ll have your period forever.

Starting Puberty

Puberty is a phase of change your body goes through where your body reaches sexual maturity. In other words, you become capable of reproduction, or having babies. Having a period is a big part of being able to do this.

When you reach around ages 8 to 12, your body starts to change and you go through puberty.

For girls, puberty includes developing boobs (breasts), a growth spurt (increase in height, widening of hips), growing armpit and pubic hair, secreting vaginal discharge (a clear whitish fluid), and getting your period.

What’s a period & Why do we get periods?

Your body works in an amazing way. Every month, your body goes through a complex cycle called the menstrual cycle (or period cycle). This cycle happens so that you can have a baby one day if you want to.

Your period, the days that you bleed, are only one part of this cycle.

On average a menstrual cycle is about 28 days. But not every girl in the world has a 28 day cycle. Some girls will have shorter cycles, some girls will have longer cycles and this is completely normal.

Your period cycle is driven by hormonal changes in your body. You don’t have to fully understand hormonesto understand your period. Just know that there are hormonal changes happening in your body throughout the period cycle.

This cycle is complex but luckily for us, it is a self regulating cycle. You don’t really have to do anything. Your body goes through this cycle by itself month after month after month!

Why do girls bleed during their period?

Every cycle, your ovaries release an egg. This process of releasing an egg is called ovulation.

It’s not a giant egg like the chicken eggs we see in supermarkets. It’s actually called an ovum and it is super tiny, only about the size of the tip of your pencil!

Uterus

In this diagram, the endometrial lining is shown in dark red lining the uterus.
The ovum then travels down the fallopian tube towards the uterus. If you have sexual intercourse around this time, the ovum may be fertilized by the man’s sperm and you may become pregnant.

Every cycle your body prepares a special lining in your uterus just in case you become pregnant. This lining is called the endometrial lining and it is a soft spongy lining of tissue and blood to nourish and protect a growing baby.

If you do not become pregnant, your body sheds the endometrial lining and it leaves through your vagina. This is your period!

Your period is a mixture of the endometrial lining and blood. Remember the endometrial lining is soft tissue. That’s why sometimes your period looks clumpy and this is completely normal.

Your period doesn’t come out all at once. It leaves your body through the course of 5-7 days. Some days the period flow will be heavier and some days it will be lighter.

After your period is over, the cycle starts all over again. Your body releases and egg, your body prepares a new lining, and if you don’t become pregnant, then you shed the lining and get your period…. and this goes on and on and on every month!

Will I have my period forever?

The good news is no….but most women have their periods from puberty until they are about 50 years old. At around this age your body will go through another change called menopause. This is when your ovaries stop releasing eggs.

But don’t worry about menopause! After all, you just started your period!

Got questions? Leave a comment below!

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About Dedy Wong

Dedy lives in Vancouver, BC and is a 2014 graduate of the University of British Columbia with a B.A. in Psychology. She is the blogger, writer, photographer, and tester for all the reviews and articles on the blog.Her menstrual cycle is around 35 to 40 days long and she has tried just about everything from menstrual cups to reusable pads.

20 comments

  1. My period started on 5th september and i had unprotected sex on 8th september, the period ended on 10th September. Is it possible for me to get pregnant?

  2. I’m too scared to put a tampon! HELP

  3. Hi! I started puberty at about age 9. I am 12 now. I have read that girls usually get their period about 2 years after they start puberty. I still don’t have my period yet, and I have had vaginal discharge for quite a long time. I am a bit concerned. I have also read, though, that sometimes thinner and highly athletic girls who have a lot of stress form sports on their bodies can delay them getting their first period. I am a competitive swimmer and I swim/workout very hard for 2 hours and 15 minutes pretty much every day. Why have I not gotten my period yet?

  4. so my second period just started and im wearing pads. but pads feel really uncomfortable i feel like everyone can see them and i can always feel it gushing whenever i stand up. do you think im ready for tampons or something that is more comfortable. also i get discharge every day so do you think i should wear a pantiliner for that. how often should you change your pad? do you change it when it starts to smell? my school day takes 8 hours and i dont have a lot of time in between classes to change pads so do you think i can go through the day without changing my pad. how long will it take for my period to become regular. also last question if i stain my pants will it wash off if i just put it in the washing machine with everything else or does it need special treatment. thanks for you blog it’s really helpful.

    • Hi Anne,

      Thanks for writing in!

      1. Tampons – That is up to you to decide whether or not you are ready. It is a personal decision for you to make :). Check out my tampon guide for more info: The Period Blog’s Guide to Tampons

      2. Discharge – yes you can wear panty liners to protect your panties and to feel fresher throughout the day. It’s up to you :).

      3. It’s better to change you pad at least once or twice during your day at school. Change it whenever it starts to get full or when you need to freshen up. I would recommend you change it before it starts to smell.

      4. How long does it take to become regular? It’s a little different for every girl but usually within 2 years you should start noticing a regular pattern.

      5. You can check out my stain removal guide here: The Period Blog’s Guide to Period STain Removal

      I hope that helps! Don’t hesitate to ask if you are confused or have more questions :).

      Your friend,
      -Dedy
      The Period Blog

  5. I start my period at 10 and now I’m 11 but how do I tell my mom and when I tell her to how do I know she’ll not be mad at me or happy for me what if I’m uncomfortable about telling her?? I need a little help

    • Hi Tory,

      I know it sounds scary to tell your mom that you got your period but believe it or not, your mom was your age once too! I don’t think she will get mad because she knows what it feels liek to get your period for the first time. Since you are 11, your mom is already expecting you to get your first period so it won’t come as a surprise to her.

      You can tell your mom by saying: Hi mom, I got my period. Can we talk about it (later)?

      Or if you’re not comfortable saying it to her face to face, you can text her too. If you have an older sibling, they can also tell your mom for you.

      I hope that helps Tory. Let me know how it goes!

      Good luck!

      Your friend,
      -Dedy
      The Period Blog

    • I am 10 and I have not started my period. I am a little scared. my mom tells me not to. I need a little help. Last question when does my period start?

  6. how many days are there between the last day of period and ovulation?

    • Hi Marcus,

      It depends on how long your cycle is and a bit different for every girl. Usually, ovulation occurs 2 weeks before the start of your period so you can use that to calculate the days for your period.

      I hope that helps.

      Your friend,
      -Dedy
      The Period Blog

  7. August 24th last year
    I’m now 11

  8. Hi again
    I’m a friend
    Well here’s another of my story
    It’s not when I got my period
    I mean I got my period but it was late
    So I wrote a letter to my male teacher Mr Hunter and told him my belly hurts so if I could go check if it came he agreed
    When I was going outside but I walked slowly he asked aloud if I wanted to take someone I was like in my mind what! Why ask! I said no and continued walking
    After I reached to the girls room I saw it didn’t come (it was the 26 of may this year I started August 24 last any way what am I gonna do it didn’t come and it was a male teacher in class today I sat there about a minute then went to my class)
    I reached and sat down (was quiet so he didn’t notice)
    After about 10 minutes I had my head on the desk he asked aloud if everything was okay everyone looked at me
    I shocked my head and continued with my head on the desk
    Now people kept asking what was sir talking about why did you go outside but I replied nothing
    I told my friend Gernila what happened she said she wouldn’t have told him but just ask to use the restroom
    The thing is he wouldn’t have let me go cause someone was outside already

    It came the next 3 days

    Guess what?
    Maybe the wetness was just vaginal discharge

    I should just have waited

  9. I started at 10 but everyone develops at different times

  10. Hi ! I got my first period when I was nine years old is that normal ? & I am twenty now but I was wondering when my periods are over I get really dry down there & should that be a cause of concern ?

    • Hi Kriggs,

      Yes, 9 years old is normal! Girls can get their period as early as 8 years old. On average, girls get their periods at 10-12 and some girls as late as 14. Fact is – every body is different and your body will get it when it is ready!

      When you say dry, do you mean your skin is dry? Is your skin chafing?

      Sometimes the vagina can feel very wet from vaginal discharge or when we are turned on so it may feel dry during the times you are not. If it is very dry (so much that it is bothersome) then I would recommend you see your doctor about it. It’s better to get it checked out and catch something early than later :).

      I hope taht helps Kriggs! If you have any more questions, you can post them here in the comments section.

      Your friend,
      -Dedy
      The Period Blog

    • You are normal
      cause I started puberty at 6 and my period at 10 but it was 3 months and 8 days after my birthday

  11. I am 12 and I got my first period when i was 11, since then my period has “tamed” itself, and between you and my mom, i pretty much fully understand what is going on with myself. And your posts help me understand even more, and I now think that females are more fastinating the unlucky now.
    So thanks,
    Madi

  12. Hi, I’m 14, turning 15 in a few months. I am scared something is wrong with me. I still haven’t started my period. I know my age is in the range to start, but I’ve had breast development, pubic hair, and discharge since I was 11, maybe even pubic hair at 10. I am already 5’8″, and was only predicted to be 5’5″… And obviously I could still grow a lot since I haven’t started, right? Ugh. Is it possible something could be wrong? I am hoping it is just taking longer than usual for me, because everyone else has already started and makes fun of me for having not.

    • Hi Olivia,

      Everyone develops differently. Some girls get their periods at an early age and some when they are older and that’s completely normal. Ignore the girls making fun of you because one day you will realize how lucky you are to have started late. All your friends have to worry about white pants and you don’t ;P!

      I wouldn’t worry too much about not getting your period yet. But it never hurts to get your doctor’s opinion when you go for a check up :)!

      I hope that helps Olivia!

      xoxo,
      -Dedy

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