Starting at puberty, every month your body will prepare for a possible pregnancy. Hormones signal the ovaries to release an egg each month. The egg moves into one of the fallopian tubes.
At the same time, the lining of the uterus begins to grow and thicken. If the egg is not fertilised by a man’s sperm, pregnancy does not occur. The lining breaks down and flows out of the body through the vagina. This is called menstruation, the menstrual period, or just your "period."
Most girls start menstruating between the ages of 12-14 after breasts start developing.
Periods normally come every 21 to 45 days and are often not regular at first.
It can take about one to two years after your first period for your body to get on a regular cycle.
Symptoms can vary from person to person and may include cramps in the lower abdomen and back, headaches or dizziness, or even diarrhoea.
Be sure to talk with your doctor about your period if:
- You are 14 or older, have never had a period, and you have an eating disorder, exercise a lot, or have excessive body hair growth
- Your periods were regular each month and then they stopped being regular
- Your period comes more often than every 21 days or less often than every 45 days
- Your periods last more than seven days
- Your periods are so heavy that you have to change pads or tampons often (more than once every one to two hours)
- You have bad cramps that keep you from doing your regular activities and pain relievers don't help
Menstrual cramps or dysmenorrhea
Feeling pain before or during your menstrual period is very common. More than half of women and girls with periods have some pain for one to two days each month.
During your period, your uterus contracts and releases natural chemicals called prostaglandins. These chemicals can cause cramps.
No matter if your period pain is mild or severe, you can ask your obstetrician/gynaecologist (ob-gyn) or other health care professional for advice. It is especially important to get help if your pain is severe, feels worse than usual, or is making your life hard every month.
There are several ways to treat period pain, most commonly by:
- Pain relievers, such as ibuprofen
- Hormone treatment, such as birth control pills or a hormonal intrauterine device (IUD)
If medication does not relieve the pain, your doctor may suggest tests to find the cause. A different treatment may be needed if you have a medical condition such as endometriosis or fibroids.
Your doctor should review your medical history, including your symptoms and menstrual cycle. They may recommend a pelvic exam or an ultrasound exam.
Period pain also can be caused by medical conditions, including:
- Cysts in the ovaries
To ease your pain, you may:
- Exercise regularly throughout each month
- Take a warm bath or putting a heating pad or hot water bottle on your abdomen or lower back
- Get more sleep, especially right before and during your period
For more information, visit the Obstetrics and Gynaecology department at Mediclinic Al Jowhara Hospital.
For appointments, please call 800 2000 or download the MyMediclinic 24x7 app.