Your menstrual period is the five to seven days during the month that a small amount of bloody fluids flows from your vagina. The flow begins slowly-it doesn’t squirt or gush-and is heaviest during the first few days. The flow gradually lessens and then stops. Although it may seem as though you are losing a lot of blood, you’re really not. The total amount of the flow over an entire period is only about one-half cup.

Most women have a monthly menstrual period until they are about 50 years old. Then the periods stop. Pregnant women usually do have any bleeding. Women who are breastfeeding their babies usually do not have periods during that time. There are times, too, when a woman misses a period. This may happen if she is sick, upset, or very nervous about something, is she hasn’t been eating right; or if she has been exercising a lot.

Your Monthly Schedule

Once you start having your periods, you may see just a few spots of blood one month and then have a normal period the next month. Also, you may skip a month or have two periods in one month during the first year. Your body needs a little time to get on a set schedule. If a woman has had sex and misses a period, though, she should see a doctor as soon as she can, because she may be pregnant.

You may want to use a calendar to keep track or your periods. Put an “x” on the first day of your period. Count the first “x” as day 1, and keep counting the days until you have next period. If you do this every month, you’ll be able to tell how many days there are between you periods. For some girls, it will be every 28 days: for others, it may be anywhere from 23 to 35 days; and for others, it may change from month to month. Even when your periods start to come after the same number of days each month, you may miss a period or be a few days early or late.

How To Prepare

Once you know when to expect your next period, you can be ready. You should try to keep a supply of sanitary napkins or tampons. Napkins and pads that are worn inside your panties to catch the blood flow. They are held in place with a sticky backing. Tampons are small absorbent tubes made of cotton. They are placed inside the vagina to catch the blood flow.