Eggs, or ova, are made and released by your ovaries. At birth, you have all of your eggs stored in your ovaries. When you begin puberty, your body starts to release one egg a month. This will happen until no eggs are left. When an egg is released by your ovaries, it sits inside your fallopian tube. The body begins to prepare for possible pregnancy by thickening the lining of the uterus and the vagina. If you have sex, sperm enters your vagina and can meet the egg. We call this ‘fertilisation’. Once this happens, the fertilised egg moves into your uterus where it grows into a baby. This is how you become pregnant. For each month that the egg remains unfertilised (thatis, no sperm reaches the egg), the uterus sheds its lining. This causes blood to flow from the uterus through the vagina and outside the body. We call this ‘menstruation’. Menstruation, menses and period all mean the same thing. Once you get your period, you can become pregnant and have babies.
Things to know about menses:
- menses usually lasts 3 to 6 days, and will usually be a heavier flow in the first few days before getting light
- menses take place once a month or every 28 days, but can be irregular
- some girls have signs that their menses is about to begin, such as sore breasts, mood swings, stomach cramps or a bloated belly
- having your period is a normal healthy part of growing
- even when having menses, you can still do things that you do every day such as going to school, visiting family and friends and playing sports
- you can still swim when you have your menses if you use a tampon; contrary to popular belief, your menses will not stop when you are in the water and your menstrual blood will not attract sharks!
- if you have sex and get pregnant, you will stop menstruating; however, you may continue to have some vaginal bleeding. If you experience heavy or constant bleeding while pregnant, visit your doctor, your nearest health centre or call MSP on 5640
Some girls get stomach cramps when they get their periods. If this happens to you, then:
- stay warm and rest as much as possible
- drink plenty of water
- use a heating pad (hot water bottle) on your back or abdomen or take pain relievers
- talk to your parents or doctor if heating pads and pain relievers don’t help.