When you first saw the title of this post, you might have imagined a simple guide to periods for girls experiencing them for the first time. However, a quick (and *very* scientific) poll on your Instagram might soon shatter this impression. A friend who has been having periods for years now might ask why period blood is sometimes brown (it’s older blood that has oxidised); another might ask whether orgasms help period cramps (short answer: yes). Even a boyfriend might ask how the pill affects periods (there is no short answer, so here’s a whole blog post). Clearly, anyone can have FAQs about periods, and this blog post is to educate boys on periods, girls on periods, and everyone in between, to help break the taboo.
How Many Different Period Products Are There? Are there Different Jobs For Them?
Pads, tampons, menstrual cups, menstrual discs, and period pants are the five main products you will find on the current market and they all do the same job - collecting blood - differently.
Pads sit in your underwear and absorb any blood as it comes out. They are there for anyone who doesn’t feel comfortable inserting something into their vagina, and you can think of period pants as their reusable (and more cost effective!) older sister. Period pants do exactly the same job, but they are washable and reusable! Like pads, tampons are also disposable, but they absorb the blood internally once placed inside the vaginal canal. Once inserted correctly, a tampon is held in place by the vagina and as it soaks up the menstrual blood, it will expand. Menstrual cups or discs on the other hand, are often made of silicone, and are inserted into the vaginal canal where they act as reservoirs for blood.
On a Scale of 1-10, How Bad is Period Pain Really?
Pain differs for everyone - on a scale of 1-10, it could be as low as 1 for some people, as high as 10 for others. The best thing you can do is to acknowledge your period pain, because it’s one of the most prevalent taboos about periods. If you need painkillers, take some ibuprofen; if you feel like you need the day off school or work, tell someone; if your period pain is debilitating or worse than usual, go to a doctor. For more on how to break the taboo surrounding periods, see our top six period taboos.
Can You Feel a Tampon When You Put It In?
No, you shouldn’t be able to feel a tampon when you put it in. If you can - there may be a reason why! Common reasons for being able to feel them are either that it’s not been inserted far enough, or that it’s too big. If you still feel uncomfortable about tampons, don’t hesitate to use a different method of collection - whether you can feel them physically or not, how you feel about them psychologically is the most important thing!
How Much Do You Bleed During Your Period?
Bleeding typically lasts between three and eight days, and you’ll lose five to twelve teaspoons of blood. That’s it! With everything we now have at our disposal (pun intended!), we don’t have to miss out on school, work, our favourite sports, or even socialising because of our periods. Losing blood doesn’t have to mean losing out on anything else or suffering from FOMO (fear of missing out), as long as we know how to deal with it - remember, education is always the answer.
Why Do We Have So Many Mood Swings During Our Cycle?
“Must be someone’s time of the month!” We’ve all heard someone (let’s be honest, often from a male) mutter this when they think we’re being difficult. Really, the phrase is just a casual excuse for sexism. If men behave similarly, there would be a legitimate reason why, but for women it’s just “that time of the month”. How to explain periods to boys shouldn’t be hard. The legitimate reason for “mood swings” is this: after our egg is released, oestrogen and progesterone levels drop, potentially causing irritability, anxiety, depression, or social withdrawal.
Can You Go Swimming During Your Period? If So, How Is This Possible?
Yes! Just use an internal collection method. As discussed above, we recommend a tampon or a menstrual cup. If your flow is slightly lighter, then why not try wearing an absorbent, dark swimming costume? When shopping around for swimwear, you will be see that most of the time, there is a hidden leak-proof lining that will help absorb any menstrual blood that your internal product doesn’t catch. A period is no reason to not enjoy your favourite sport!
When Does Perimenopause Start? What is it?
Perimenopause is the period we go through before menstruation stops. It generally starts in your 40s,however, for some, it can begin in your 30s. Some of the most common symptoms include
- Menstrual irregularity
- Hot flushes
- Sleeping problems,
- Vaginal dryness.
Do Period Pads And Tampons Come in Different Sizes? How Do You Know Which Size To Use?
Pads and tampons come with different levels of absorbency. You can use a higher level at night, or when you know you won’t get a chance to change it for a while. Lighter levels are great for the beginning and end of your period. It’s important to get to know your body and what you may need during your period. If you are someone with a heavier flow, then a higher level absorbency tampon plus a panty liner may be the best option for you. It has been reported that women who have just had a baby, or who have given birth in the past have much heavier period than before. In this instance, doubling up on period products (one internal and one external), as well as having an effective period disposal method to hand is a must.
How Do You Dispose Of Period Products?
There are two types of people: Flushers, and Binners. If you choose to use disposable period products, it’s important that you think about the environement before flushing it down the nearest toilet. You can use a Fab Little Bag to store it until you do get access to a bin. Their seal means you can hold onto your used products without fear of mess or odour, whilst their sustainable make-up means you can dispose of them without fear of damaging the environment. How could anyone say no, even a flusher? It’s just as convenient, and more environmentally friendly.
How Do You Stop The Blood From Going Everywhere?
So long as you are using an appropriate collection method at the appropriate absorbency level, there should be no risk of blood going everywhere.
If you found this post useful, share it with *anyone* else who you think might too - boys, girls, annoying friends, clueless boyfriends… We all have questions about periods, and we all deserve answers!
A massive thank you to Helen Edwards for guest writing this piece!