Sure, it’s that little dot at the end of a sentence, but a period is also another word for menstruation: when blood and tissue are released from your uterus through your cervix and out of your vagina.
In many cultures, talking about your period openly is considered taboo, but remember: periods are *nothing* to be embarrassed or ashamed about. Equipping yourself with knowledge will help you navigate this new phase.
Your period = 1 phase of your menstrual cycle
Your period is one phase of your menstrual cycle, which typically lasts 21 - 45 days. The ~flow~ of blood and tissue you experience (your period!) happens about halfway through that cycle, roughly once a month and lasting, on average, 3 to 7 days (but it’s important to remember that first and early periods often vary, so you may see blood more or less often).
Why you have a period
Sooo, why do periods happen? Because your body is preparing for one of its eggs to be fertilized. If you remember from health class, once a month an egg travels from your ovaries down into your uterus (this phase is called ovulation).
During this time, the lining of your uterus thickens around the egg, creating what’s basically a cozy li’l home in preparation for the egg to be fertilized. When you don’t become pregnant, your body sheds the lining and releases the unfertilized egg — then, the cycle starts all over again!
What Will My Period Feel Like?
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Every Person and every Period is Different
We've already mentioned that first and early periods can be especially irregular, but to be honest, getting to know your ~flow~ isn't always straightforward. Just like how every person is unique, so are periods — over time, you'll learn what your body's *normal* looks like.
Recording when your cycle starts, ends, and some of the symptoms you experience in an app on your phone, or the old-fashioned way in a notebook, can make figuring that out a little easier. (And while you do, your THINX (BTWN) undies will help you avoid any surprise leaks!)
All the Period Colors of the Rainbow
You might notice a few different colors in your undies during your period — don't worry, this is pretty normal.
Think about the last time you got a paper cut (ouch!). It's initially bright red, but deepens to almost brown as it heals. That's because blood changes color when it's exposed to oxygen — the same thing happens to your period. Newer blood flowing from your uterus will be brighter, while dark red or brown blood indicates that it's taking some extra time to leave your body. If you notice an unfamiliar color, especially if it's paired with any funky *smells*, reach out to one of your parents, or another trusted adult.
You may have already visited a gynecologist for the first time, but especially once you get your first period, you should start visiting an OB-GYN at least once a year. These visits might seem uncomfortable at first, but your doctor can help you navigate any unfamiliar territory.
Dealing with new changes to your body can feel stressful, and even a little scary sometimes, and there's no one better to walk you through what's going on down there than your gynecologist! (Trust — there's no such thing as a *wrong* or *weird* question in your doctor's office.)