For girls...
What is menstruation?
Menstruation is a flow of blood that occurs regularly (about once a month) from puberty to menopause. Each month, the uterus prepares to receive a fertilized egg, i.e. it prepares for pregnancy. If the egg is not fertilized, the body discards both the egg and the lining of the uterus through the vagina and resumes the cycle of preparing to receive a fertilized egg.

Onset. Girls may begin to menstruate between the ages of 9 and 18.

Duration. Generally, menstruation lasts three to seven days.

Daily activities? During menstruation, you can continue your regular activities (sports, swimming, etc.) without any problems.

Menstrual flow
Menstrual flow varies from one woman to another and sometimes from one period to the next.

Hygiene during menstruation
1.    Proper hygiene
Personal hygiene is especially important during menstruation. It’s important to bathe or shower each day.
2.    Sanitary pads or tampons
While you are menstruating, you can either use sanitary pads that you place inside your underwear, or tampons, which you insert into your vagina. Opt for the method that best suits you and your activities, but whatever you choose, both must be changed regularly.

Menstrual pain

A lot of girls experience cramps during the first few days of their period. The intensity or duration of this discomfort can vary from person to person and from one year to the next.

How to alleviate menstrual cramps
•    Engaging in physical activity (aerobic exercise, cycling, jogging, swimming, etc.) as this releases endorphins which are a natural analgesic
•    Eating three balanced meals a day
•    Consuming less caffeine and salt as these may magnify the symptoms
•    Minimizing stress and increasing relaxation (e.g. yoga)
•    Applying hot compresses to your abdomen or taking a hot bath may alleviate the pain
•    Taking analgesics or over-the-counter anti-inflammatories can help relieve cramps; consult your pharmacist for an appropriate medication
•    If you are unable to alleviate your cramps with the suggestions listed above, and if they continue to be very painful, consult your doctor

Premenstrual syndrome
Some girls have symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (also called PMS) a few days before they menstruate.
These symptoms include:
•    irritability, anger, frayed nerves
•    sad or depressed mood
•    anxiety
•    difficulty focusing
•    fatigue
•    headache
•    swollen breasts or bloating
•    nausea
•    muscle pain in the lower back or sore breasts
•    acne outbreak
•    a sudden urge for sweet or salty food

Menstrual cycle
The length of the menstrual cycle is calculated from the first day of menstruation until the day before your next menstruation. It generally varies from 23 to 35 days, however many women have irregular periods, especially during adolescence.

Menstruation occurs 14 days after ovulation, regardless of the length of cycle. It’s the period of time before ovulation that varies.

Ovulation is the release of an egg from an ovary. This occurs 14 days prior to menstruation. As the menstrual cycle varies from woman to woman, and often from month to month, ovulation does not necessarily occur on the 14th day of your cycle, contrary to popular opinion.

High-risk period for pregnancy: The period during which women are most susceptible to becoming pregnant. This period involves several days, not only the day of ovulation.

Important: Calculating the high-risk period for pregnancy is not a reliable method for preventing pregnancy. It is used mainly by women who want to become pregnant. It is also referred to as the calendar method.

There is a risk of pregnancy in any unprotected sexual relationship, even during menstruation. There is no one day that you can remain absolutely sure you won’t become pregnant if no contraception is used. And did you know that a sperm cell can live for up to five days in your uterus?

Menstrual cycle regularity can be influenced by several psychological factors, including:
•    grief
•    heartbreak
•    fear of pregnancy
•    stress and fatigue
•    sports (intense activity levels)
•    eating disorders

Falsehoods and truths
•    Sexual relations cannot provoke menstruation in a girl who has not had her period yet.
TRUE. The body will initiate menstruation upon puberty.

•    A girl cannot become pregnant after having sex in water.
FALSE.  A girl can become pregnant or contract STIs (STDs) after any unprotected sex.

•    It is not possible to menstruate if you are pregnant.
TRUE. Some bleeding may occur during pregnancy but this is not considered menstruation.

•    Girls cannot play sports or swim during menstruation.
FALSE. Girls can enjoy their usual activities and hobbies.

•    A girl may become pregnant if she has intercourse during menstruation.
TRUE. This can occur if the girl has an irregular 14-day cycle whereby ovulation occurs during her period.
When should you consult a health professional?
Certain situations call for consulting a doctor:
•    If you have abnormally heavy periods
•    If you have stopped having periods but you have had them in the past
•    If you have serious abdominal pain, headaches, back pain or nausea before or during your period.
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