Menstrual Health Centre

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Body safe

10 warning signs to see your GP

For most of us, periods are a sign that we are healthy. But, sometimes, we need a little help to get back into balance. So, just to be safe, look out for these 10 signs that you may need a doctor’s check-up.

If you experience any of them, or you’re unsure, talk to your GP. They’re there to help, and they won’t mind answering your questions. If you’re in your early teens, talk to someone you trust like a relative, carer or teacher.

Most problems are easy to treat, and a check-up can help you to spot illnesses that might have gone unnoticed. So you’ll have peace of mind, and your body will feel better, too.

Speak to your doctor if1:
  1. You reach the age of 15 without ever having a period2
  2. Your normal cycle stops for 3 months or more
  3. Your regular pattern turns irregular, or you bleed between periods
  4. Your period comes within 21 days, or after 35
  5. You bleed for 7 days or more
  6. You have unusually heavy blood flow - especially if it needs a tampon or pad change every 2 hours
  7. You see unusual blood or liquid - it might be a strange colour, very dark, or smell bad
  8. You experience very bad pain - especially with a fever
  9. You bleed after sex
  10. You bleed after menopause

If pain or blood loss is severe, seek medical attention or contact NHS Direct.

Learn more

There’s a confidence that comes from knowing the facts. From understanding that if something was ever to go wrong - well, actually, you’d spot it. And you’d know just what to do.

Beat toxic shock

10 symptoms to spot - and save a life

With periods come sanitary towels or tampons. And with tampons - just sometimes - comes toxic shock. What is it? ‘Toxic shock syndrome’ is a severe reaction some women can get from using tampons. It can be a life threatening illness, but thankfully it’s very rare.

Toxic shock is actually caused by bacteria, ‘hitching a ride’ into the body when a tampon is inserted. And like other illnesses that bacteria trigger, it can be caused by infection from other sources, too - like medical operations, infected cuts, and even giving birth3.

So, knowing these warning signs can come in handy even if you don’t use tampons. If someone is really ill, they need help whatever the cause.

If you use a tampon and get any of these symptoms, take the tampon out, and contact your doctor straight away4:

If symptoms
are severe or the
sick person is unresponsive, call

  1. Sudden high fever
  2. Muscle aches
  3. Diarrhea
  4. Feeling sick or throwing up
  5. Seizures
  6. Feeling dizzy
  7. Fainting
  8. A rash that looks like sunburn
  9. Sore throat
  10. Bloodshot eyes

Don’t worry about bleeding a little bit when you take the tampon out - the only thing that matters is your health. If you really have to, just pad a few tissues around your knickers.

And remember: if a friend shows any of the symptoms, don’t be embarrassed to ask her if it could be Toxic Shock - you might just save her life. If it isn’t toxic shock, at least she’ll know you’re a real friend.5

Learn more

There’s a confidence that comes from knowing the facts. From understanding that if something was ever to go wrong - well, actually, you’d spot it. And you’d know just what to do.

How often should I change my pad or tampon?

Knowing what’s right for your body

As you get used to your period, you learn more and more about the best ways to deal with it. That includes the best types of tampons or sanitary towels for your body.

Young adults and mums of three, athletes and bookworms - we all bleed at different rates because we all have different bodies. We can produce different amounts as we age, too - a little when our first period comes, more when we get into our 20s.

So the only real rules are: always change a pad before it becomes soaked, and never leave a tampon in for more than 8 hours6.

If you get the chance, it’s a good idea to use the lowest absorbency tampon for your flow, too7. That’s because smaller tampons cause less irritation. For example, use junior or regular tampons on the lightest day of your period. They’re even a handier fit in your purse or pocket, so they’re easier to carry.

5 tips for tampons
  1. Always follow the instructions on the packet
  2. Choose the lowest absorbency for your flow
  3. Never leave the same tampon in for more than 8 hours
  4. Know the warning signs of toxic shock syndrome
  5. Don't use tampons between periods

Learn more

There’s a confidence that comes from knowing the facts. From understanding that if something was ever to go wrong - well, actually, you’d spot it. And you’d know just what to do.

What’s in your Period Kit?

Making your own Period Survival Kit

Preparing means you can stop worrying. So put together your own period kit, and see how much of a difference it makes. It’s valuable at any age. It’s handy if your flow has become irregular or stopped. And it’s a big help for young women experiencing their first periods.

You can keep your own kit close at hand. In your handbag, your car, your desk or your wardrobe. Just remember it’s there...

  1. Find a container! Pencil cases are a good choice, whether you’re studying or not. If you’re working in an office, try an old sandwich tub. Or a decorative tin, or a cool box - use whatever feels best.
  2. Buy chocolate. Science says so. Because, wonderful as this sounds, a little chocolate helps to perk you up when you’re a little low. It’s not just the sugar. It’s also natural plant chemicals like Theobromine and Phenylethylamine, from the cocoa, that make you feel good . (And all in a package that you can take anywhere.)
  3. If you experience the symptoms of period pain, ask an adult for advice and find a pain killer that works best for you.
  4. Have a rummage! Find the bits and pieces that help with those pesky problems. Some spare tampons or pads. A wet wipe or two, or a back-up pair of knickers if your period is irregular. You can even slip in a spare travel card, travel pass or taxi money - if you get unexpectedly bad cramps, they can help to see you home.
  5. Keep your kit where you need it. Office. Gym. School. In your bag or car. Just know where it is when nature calls. And if you really want, spice it up with some stickers of your favourite boy band.
    Especially if you’re over thirty, because you already know their lovely faces will see you through anything. (The sensitive one most of all.)

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The menstrual cycle, ovulation and fertility

What is the Menopause image

Why we have periods. As we grow, our bodies change so that we can have children - if the time is right, and if we want to. We see some of these changes all the time...

Menstrual Health Centre

Go to the Menstrual health centre

symptoms to spot
– and save a life

Read more

Your period is as individual
as your body...

When a woman is born, her complete potential egg supply is born with her, at birth she carries approximately
2 million eggs, by puberty she has approximately 40,000 reamining of which fewer than 500 are actually released.

Daniels, Patricia, et al. 2007. Body: The Complete Human. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society.