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Here Are Your Most-Searched Period Questions—Answered
No matter how in-tune you are with your body, your period can throw you for a loop. It doesn’t help that your friends’ periods are probably wildly different from yours, and typing your questions into a search bar just leads you down a black hole of information you're not sure you can really trust. Your best bet for solid advice is your gyno. Rebecca Brightman, MD, an ob-gyn based in New York City, compiled the questions her patients ask her over and over again—here's how she answers them each time.
A: First, don’t expect your period to come exactly every 28 days. "Anywhere from 21 to 35 days is considered a normal cycle," says Brightman. If yours varies more than that, you may have underlying hormonal problems, such as a thyroid abnormality or PCOS. Talk to you doctor to find out what’s up.
A: Yep—as long as you change your tampon before bed and put in a new one as soon as you wake up, you’re good, Brightman says. But if you happen to bleed through your tampon on a particularly heavy night, Clorox2Totally Spot-Less can help. It's formulated to remove feminine stains, so rogue leaks on your underwear and sheets are no big deal.
A: You can thank your hormones. In the days leading up to your period, your body produces more progesterone, which slows down the movements of your digestive system—and can lead to constipation, Brightman explains. But then, when your period actually comes, your body releases more hormone-like compounds called prostaglandins, which may lead to cramps—and can cause you to poop more than usual.
A: That extra progesterone that your body produces before your period might be the culprit. "Progesterone may also stimulate the production of other hormones, like ghrelin, which is your hunger hormone," Brightman says, though she is also quick to point out that the research is inconclusive. "It’s different for everyone, because some people are simply much more sensitive to hormones than others."
A: At the beginning of your period, your blood may be bright red, because that's when the blood is freshest. "But at the end of your cycle, your blood may become darker, because it’s older blood that’s been sitting inside of you for longer and has had a chance to oxidize," Brightman explains. No matter the color, it’s still a drag if you bleed through your clothes. If that happens, pretreat the area with Clorox2Totally Spot-Less, which will help stains disappear in the wash.
A: Generally speaking, it’s normal to bleed for about seven days, though it still varies person to person. If you’re bleeding for much longer than seven days, check in with your physician to see if there are any issues you may need to address, suggests Brightman.
A: If you’re changing your tampon or pad more than every three hours, or passing large clots on a consistent basis, that’s generally heavier than normal, Brightman explains. It could also indicate larger hormonal issues, so talk to your doctor if you think something’s up. In the meantime, if you’re bleeding through tampons frequently, stock up on Clorox2Totally Spot-Less to pretreat and remove those stains in the wash.
A: This one is hard to quantify, because people react to hormones so differently. It could be because you are simply a person who has a really strong reaction to hormonal changes, explains Brightman. But it could also be indicative of endometriosis, so you may want to check in with your gyno just in case.
A: Your boobs usually get bigger before your period, when your body produces more progesterone. "And then, as you progress toward your period, your body produces both progesterone and estrogen, which often cause breast tenderness," Brightman says.
A: Yep. "As long as you don’t have an underlying endocrine problem, you don’t need to have a period when you’re on a method of birth control that allows it—like a certain IUD or the birth control pill," says Brightman. However, if you’re nervous about getting pregnant and breathe a huge sigh of relief when your period comes each month, you may want to consider keeping it around for your mental health.
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