The beginning of the menstrual cycle starts with the menstrual phase. This phase begins when an egg from the previous cycle hasn’t been fertilised (aka a pregnancy doesn’t occur). When a pregnancy doesn’t happen, hormone levels will start to drop. The uterine lining that has spent the last month thickening is no longer needed, so it has to shed. And is this what happens during a period! Blood, uterine tissue, cells, fluid and bacteria shed by exiting the vagina.
When do periods start?
Periods typically start between the ages of 10 and 15. It can also happen earlier or later, as we all develop at different rates. You can read more about the first period here. If you haven’t started your periods by the age of 16, it is recommended you see a doctor.
Will I experience symptoms during the menstrual phase?
Yes! Most of us experience symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) in the run up to our period and during it. More info on PMS here.
How often will I get my period?
Unfortunately, the menstrual cycle does not always run like clockwork and it can change as you get older. A cycle is considered ‘regular’ when the majority of them are within the following ranges:
- Adolescents: 21 – 45 days
- Adults: 24 – 38 days
Everyone’s normal is different and it’s all about figuring out what yours is. Menstrual bleeding is considered irregular if cycles are outside of the ranges listed above, or if they vary in length by more than 7-9 days. For example, you may experience a 27 day cycle, following by 42 the next. You can find more info on irregular cycles here.
How much blood will I shed during my menstrual phase?
It often looks like more than it actually is. 5 to 80ml of blood (or, up to five tablespoons) is thought to be the average amount lost each period. Anything above 80ml is considered heavy menstrual bleeding. If you think you have heavy periods, you can find more info here.
Is there anything I need to know about period blood?
Yes! It can come in a range of different shades and hues, don’t be alarmed if it doesn’t stay the same colour throughout your period.
- Bright red: the uterine lining is shedding at a steady rate, this is the freshest blood.
- Dark red blood: the longer blood has been in the uterus, the darker it becomes. You might see this first thing in the morning or if your flow is heavier than usual.
- Brown blood: this shade is associated with blood shedding at a slower rate. It is not uncommon to see this at the beginning of a period (sometimes left over from last month) or right at the end.
It is also perfectly normal for blood to appear clumpy from time to time. Blood clots happen when the tissue cannot be broken down at the same speed at which the lining is shedding. If they are bigger than a larger coin, you should see a doctor.
What products can I use?
You find a whole list brands available here.
Bleed & Chill playlist
For when you’re menstruating, feeling sensitive & want to move a little slower.