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Getting your period is a normal part of growing up. During your period, a little bit of blood comes out of your vagina for a few days. Here’s the deal on periods, cramps, and PMS.

What do I need to know about my period?

Menstruation (also known as having your period) is when blood from your uterus drips out of your vagina for a few days every month. You start getting your period during puberty, usually when you’re around 12-15 years old.

Your menstrual cycle is what makes your period come every month. It’s controlled by hormones in your body. The purpose of the menstrual cycle is to help your body get ready for pregnancy. Your menstrual cycle = the time from the 1st day of your period to the 1st day of your next period.  Learn more about how your menstrual cycle works

Most people get their period every 21-35 days — around once a month (that’s why periods are sometimes called “that time of the month”). The bleeding lasts for 2-7 days — it’s different for everyone. Your period might not always come at the same time each month, especially when you first start getting it. It can take a few years for your period to settle into it’s natural rhythm, and some people never get regular periods throughout their lives.

Missing your period can be a sign of pregnancy if you’ve had penis-in-vagina sex without using birth control. But there are other reasons your period might be late, too. Learn more about what to do if you miss your period.

There are lots of ways to deal with the blood that comes out of your vagina when you have your period. You can use pads, tampons, or a menstrual cup to collect the blood, so it doesn’t get on your clothes. Learn more about using tampons, pads, and cups.

Some people get cramps or other symptoms before and/or during their period — this is called PMS. Luckily, there are things you can do to feel better if your period is painful or uncomfortable.

Getting your period is a healthy part of growing up. Periods don’t have to stop you from going to school, doing sports, swimming, or hanging out with your friends — you can do all your normal activities during your period. And you’re the only person who’ll know that you’re having your period.

How do I deal with PMS and cramps?

PMS stands for Premenstrual Syndrome. It’s when the hormones that control your menstrual cycle cause changes in your body and emotions around the time of your period.

Some of the most common PMS symptoms are:

  • Cramps (pain in your lower belly or lower back)

  • Bloating (when your belly feels puffy)

  • Breakouts (getting pimples)

  • Sore breasts

  • Feeling tired

  • Mood swings (when your emotions change quickly or you feel sad, angry, or anxious)

Some people get PMS every time they have their periods. Others only get PMS every once in awhile. You may have all or just some PMS symptoms. And some people don't get PMS at all. Learn more about PMS.

Cramps are one of the most common symptoms to have before/during your period. They can be super painful, or just a little annoying. You can calm cramps by taking pain medicine (like ibuprofen). Putting a heating pad where it hurts, taking a hot bath, exercising, or stretching your body can also help. Learn more about how to deal with cramps.

Certain types of birth control — like the pill, shot, implant, and IUD — can help with PMS and other period problems. If your PMS is so bad that it’s hard to do normal activities during your period, talk to an adult you trust or your family doctor. You can also call your local Planned Parenthood health center. You shouldn’t have to suffer every month, and they can help you find the cause and get treatment.

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