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Period Health

What are periods?

A period is part of the menstrual cycle when a woman bleeds from her womb, though her vagina for a few days and. For girls, it is a sign that she is getting close to the end of puberty. Everyone is different but mostly this will happen around age 12 but anytime between age 10 and 15 years old is normal.

If a girl has sex, she could get pregnant as soon as periods start.


Why do periods happen?

Periods happen due to hormonal changes which cause the lining of the womb to build up in order for a fertilized egg to attach and develop into a baby.  If an egg isn’t fertilized, the lining breaks down and causes a bleed – a period.

How often does a woman have a period?

Periods usually happen once a month but in the early years, they can be irregular but should settle within 2-3 years. The bleed lasts around 5 days but this could be shorter or longer for some girls and women.

Periods don’t happen during pregnancy and stop when a woman becomes menopausal, when aged 45 to 55 years old.

Painful periods

Some girls and women have painful periods and/or experience pre-menstrual tension, where they experience emotional and physical symptoms around the time that their period is due. These symptoms may only last a couple of days and could include moodiness, sadness, anxiety, bloating and cramps and acne.   

How much blood and what problems to look out for?

The amount of blood loss is usually only around a teaspoon full of blood for the whole period. Some girls and women loose more which can be problematic. If a pad or tampon needs to be changed within an hour, if pain relief doesn’t help with cramps, lasts for more than one week, bleeding in between periods or they don’t regulate after 2 years of starting periods, then it is advisable to see a GP.

Which products to use?

Pads, tampons or menstrual cups are all available and finding a product which is suitable is part of understanding periods.

Most girls use pads when they first start having periods.

Some girls and women use tampons as they can be more convenient than pads for playing sport, exercising and whilst at school or work.

Some women use a small silicone cup which is inserted into the vagina to collect blood. This is called a menstrual cup and stays inside the vagina until it it removed and emptied.

Support and more information

More information can be found on


Bloody Brilliant, Mislif Fi, is a resource set up by the Women’s Health Implementation Group and is a resource for young girls to help them understand about and break the taboo around periods.