Breasts can be mysterious creatures. Like supporting characters from Alice in Wonderland, one day they can feel tiny, the next they feel huge. One day they look like twins, the next they barely feel like friends. Sometimes they’re like your own personal set of cushions – and sometimes, they hurt.

Curiouser and curiouser.

Why is this happening?

A lot of people find that their boobs are a bit sore, achy or tender in the lead up to their period. It can be a warm-up act before the main event, like the other symptoms of PMS.

While the exact cause is unknown (helpful, science) it’s thought be due to the changing levels of your hormones at that point in your cycle. Just before your period, your progesterone production peaks and your breast lobules (milk ducts, although ‘lobules’ is much more fun to say) might expand. As they swell, your nerves may have to stretch themselves a bit longer than normal, which could make your breasts feel a little on the tender side.

If you haven’t started your period yet, don’t panic if you have a tingling sensation or an aching in your chest, this is probably just your breast buds developing. Woo-hoo!

How long will it last?

Most women find that their breasts start feeling a little sore one to three days before their period starts, and generally go back to normal by the time they finish riding the crimson wave.

TL;DR? Here's the important stuff:
  • Breathe, it’s actually super common. More common than perfectly symmetrical breasts, in fact.
  • During puberty, it’s likely that one will develop faster than the other. They’ll probably continue to grow at different speeds throughout your teenage years, and most adult women still have one that is bigger than the other.
  • This shouldn’t affect your life in any way other than making bras shopping a bit more of a puzzle. But always buy the size that fits your bigger side, as a general rule of thumb. Or boob.

Is there anything I can do to ease the ache?

Some people find that cutting back on salt, sugar, caffeine and dairy helps, so you could give that a go if your boobs are being a real pain in the… er, chest. Comfort-wise, you may find that wearing a good supportive bra, such as a sports bra, helps to minimise the aching, and it will stop things jiggling about any more than is strictly necessary.

Lots of women say that regular exercise helps to fight their menstrual aches and pains. If you find running is a sore-boob nightmare (bounce factor), why not try cycling or walking? After all, you’re already wearing a sports bra.

If your boobs are super painful and playing on your mind, don’t panic. But do step away from Google. Over-the-counter painkillers might help (ask an adult and always follow the packet instructions), or just try giving your boobs a few days while your period finishes.

If they’re still feeling really sore, or if you just want to check what’s what, maybe head to your GP for a chat.

So I’m not dying?

Almost definitely not. You’re just going through the rabbit-hole of puberty. But hey, at least there’s cake.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Ok, everyone knows your period is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s a perfectly natural – if sometimes irritating – part of life.

However, as natural and wonderful and empowering as your period might be, very few of us want to bellow “HIYA I’M MENSTRUATING” at our friends when we’re walking down the road. So in case you find them useful, we asked 38 women for their favourite period euphemisms. You are welcome.

1. Aunt Flo

2. Surfing the crimson wave

3. Ladies’ week

4. Mr P

5. Nature’s mess

6. Menzies

7. Josie’s visiting – ”My Mum always said Josie’s visiting. Then it became just Josie. Never managed to make friends with any women called Josie – too many associations”

8. On the blob

9. Shark week

10. The moon sickness

11.Me and my friends have long referred to it as our ‘pez’. ‘Can’t go swimming today I’m on my pez’ or sometimes ‘pezza’, or ‘the ol’ pezza’.”

12. A Leona situation (ie. bleeding love)

13. Happy-fun-lady-time!

14. “I liked it when Tina Fey referred to it as ‘Aunt Blood'”

15. Having the painters in

16. Falling to the communists

17. Pez dispenser

18. “At my school girls say they’re ‘flying’. Because of the wraparound wings.”

19. Molly has come to visit

20. “My four-year-old sister calls it ‘nappy week'”

21. Rag week

22. Code red

23. Arsenal are playing at home

24. “My boyfriend and I refer to it as ‘my curse’ as a tongue-in-cheek reference to what men called it in the olden days”

25. The Red Sea is flowing

26. “My boyfriend calls it ‘Hanna time’”

27. Lunar flow

28. Ordering ‘l’omelette rouge’

29. Aunt Irma’s in town

30. Bloody Mary

31. Flowers

32. Dracula’s teabag

33. Lucifer’s waterfall

34. Reboot

35. Having your fairies

36. Hiding from Joffrey

37. Bernard

And my absolute, absolute favourite.

38. My Dolmio Day.

Mmm.

@orbyn

Image: Hailey Hamilton

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Despite using calendars and tracking apps, I’m not always absolutely sure when my menses is on the way. Sometimes it takes me by surprise. I’ll be out minding my own business and suddenly be aware of a… dampening.

You know, the curious, sticky sensation that makes you worry that not only has your period turned up by surprise, but it’s also making the sort of entrance that RuPaul might deem too flamboyant for Drag Race.

When that happens, here’s what’s going through my mind. And your mind. Probably.

1. Gosh, my bum feels sweaty! Maybe it’s these tights…

2. Or…

3. Oh no, oh no, oh no!

4. There must be PINTS of blood down there already. Enough to fill a milk bottle! Or a Coke bottle! How can I sneak out and deal with this?

5. Just going to check on the App store to see if there’s anything in teleportation.

6. They have an app that tells you, TO THE SECOND, when it’s going to stop raining, but not one that will magic me from my chair to the toilet. MODERN TECHNOLOGY IS POINTLESS.

7. When I get up, the force of the blood is going to lift me straight to the ceiling. Like I’m sitting on a bust fire hydrant. As if I’m starring in a remake of Do The Right Thing meets Carrie.

8. I’m wearing white pants. Why would I ever wear white pants? Why do I even own white pants?

9. I bet it’s all over my jeans.

10. I bet it’s over the chair.

11. How can I get period blood off a chair without anyone noticing? Will I have to break into the building at night with a tub of Vanish, and tights over my head?

12. I wonder if I can slide my hand under my bum and check how bad the damage is.

13. It’s got through! It’s happened! It’s… oh, it’s a bit of pink felt tip.

14. Maybe I could drop to my knees and silently roll across the floor, like an unseen ninja, and the force of my propelling body would stop the blood from gushing everywhere.

15. Or I’ll get stuck with my rear end in the air and give everyone a prolonged view of my blood-soaked crotch.

16. Can I slowly, slowly edge to the side of the room, and then scuttle out sideways like a crab? I think I can.

17. I don’t have any tampons on me. Or change for the machine. I could message someone when I’m there… but my phone has 8 per cent battery.

18. I guess I’ll just have to live in the toilet.

19. Right, up and clench, and clench. Channel the crab, the menstrual icon of the sea. You’re on a mission to the other side of the seabed, defending your pearls…. ah, no, that might be oysters.

20. This must be good for my bum, all the clenching. Maybe I’ll patent this technique as an exercise movement. I could be Instagram famous! The Period Power Workout!

21. Phew. Safe in the toilet. Now to face the mess, clean up, and… oh.

Just a sweaty bum after all, then.

Kermit the Frog screaming gif

@NotRollergirl

Image: Kate Forster

I was nine when I started my first period. Nine.

I was so young I was still making up dance routines in the playground and absent-mindedly picking my nose in public, but then one day the puberty gods decided I would be plucked from my innocent childhood and made to menstruate.

It was a weekend. I was sat on the upstairs loo while my mum hung out washing on the landing. I wiped after doing my business and there it was on the tissue: blood.

It wasn’t bright red like the normal blood I’d seen when I’d fallen over and grazed my knees. This was darker and definitely not wee, so it had to be my period. I pulled up my knickers, flushed the chain and walked out of the bathroom. “Mum, I think I’ve started my period,” I announced.

My mum did what any normal mum would do when a nine-year-old announces she’s bleeding from her vagina: she freaked out. Dropping the bed sheet she was folding, she hopped from one foot to another, spluttering, “OK… um… right… OK… um”. I shrugged, walked past coolly and reassured: “It’s alright, mum. I know what to do.”

I was too young to have had sex education at school, but luckily my mum had been spotting signs that my period was on the hormonal horizon. While she may have been useless on the day (bless her), she’d been super organised beforehand and prepared me for aunt Flo’s imminent arrival.

She later told me she’d noticed a white discharge appearing in my knickers when she did the washing, which is a sure sign your first period is about to start. (BTW: regular discharge is totally normal and part of a woman’s monthly cycle. It’s not gross and is nothing to be ashamed of. Find out more about it here.)

So when my period came, my mum had already given me “the talk”. She had put sanitary towels in my knicker drawer and performed an extremely detailed demonstration of how to stick a white-winged sanitary pad into the gusset of my age 9-10 knickers.

By the time I went back to school on Monday, I was a period pro. I skipped into the school playground with a packet of Always tucked away inside my backpack and that was that. The world kept turning and nothing really changed.

After a phone call from my mum, the school made a few changes to accommodate the “more mature” girls in my class (which is code for “those with boobs”). We got changed in the toilets for PE instead of the classroom, we could go to the loo in the middle of a lesson and we knew where the secret stash of sanitary products were.

People feel sorry for me for having “grown up so fast”, but in reality I was remarkably unfazed by the arrival of aunt Flo.

Puberty is a slow and steady experience for girls, unlike boys who seem to sprout overnight and get reaaaaally deeeeeep vooooooices all of a sudden. So I was used to “growing up”. I had boobs – not budding nipples but actual breasts that needed a bra – and had discovered my first pubes a year before.

Maybe I was too young to feel that shame and embarrassment that a lot of girls feel when they start their period. I was more interested in cartoons than how I looked, what boys thought of me or what was happening to my body. If anything I’m happy that I started so young, it meant that when my friends started I was a dab hand and could help them out.

Periods aren’t always easy, of course: sometimes you leak blood onto bed sheets or your pants (which is really easy to wash with cold water), the pain can be excruciating (hot water bottles are your friend) and it makes swimming awkward (you can still go, just wear a tampon and change it when you get out – you don’t want a wet string dripping in your undies).

I’d recommend using a period tracker app to log pain, flow and moods, so you know what is normal for your body. That way if you are worried or notice anything unusual speak to an adult you trust. The most powerful thing you can do for your health as a woman is get to know yourself.

But for the most part, you, like the other half of the population who menstruate, will be just fine. And if a nine-year-old can do it, I’m sure you can too.

@Brogan_Driscoll

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Ladies, you can do anything you want. Want to be an astronaut? You got this. Want to be a DJ? Sure thing. Want to breed puppies so that you have a constant stream of puppies to cuddle? THAT SOUNDS LIKE THE BEST JOB IN THE WORLD.

Want to go for a swim when you’re on your period? Dive right on in.

Seriously?

Seriously. If you feel comfortable going for a dip when you’re on your period, there’s no reason why you can’t.

It’s actually an awesome idea, because exercise releases endorphins, which can help reduce the fatigue and cramps that sometimes come as an unwanted side order to your monthly visit from the uterus unicorn.

What if I TURN THE WHOLE POOL RED?

Ok, this is where tampons come in handy. Lots of people try them for the first time in order to go swimming, because they’re really the easiest way to prevent leaks. Just swap it for a new, dry one in once you’re out of the water. Bombs away!  

TLDR? Here’s the important stuff:
  • You can abso-freakin-loutely go swimming when you’re on your period. You might actually find that it helps reduce aches, pains and argghs.
  • Your best bet is to use a tampon while swimming, to keep leaks at bay.
  • If tampons are a no-go, try a menstrual cup – but pads aren’t your pal at the pool. Sorry!

But if you’re strictly a pad person, things can be a bit tricker. Pads are designed to absorb fluids, so wearing one in the water means it’ll become soggy pretty quickly, and won’t be able to do its job properly – or stay stuck to your bikini bottoms either.

So it’s tampons or nothing?

Keep your cossie on for the moment, because there are some other options.

If you don’t fancy tampons you could try a menstrual cup, which is inserted in the vagina and captures the blood rather than absorbing it. You just empty it out in the loo every few hours, and pop it back up.  

Or if your period is light and you’re happy to go with the flow, you could try wearing a dark coloured swimming costume to hide any small leaks or stains. Don’t believe people who tell you your period stops in water – that’s a big ol’ myth – but it’s true that many people find they can have a quick dip with no disasters.

BUT WHAT ABOUT SHARKS?

Nope, total lie. They can’t smell your period, we promise. (And especially not in a leisure centre in the Midlands).

So in conclusion: just because you’re riding the crimson wave, doesn’t mean you can’t play in the actual waves too. Pool party, anyone?

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Tampons. Perfectly practical items, with mysteriously magical properties. No matter how organised, tidy or careful you are, they have a tendency to escape their packaging and turn up under sofa cushions, in forgotten pockets and for me, once, in a vintage gilt lipstick case that had belonged to my Nan.

We can’t stop it from happening, so we must find the beauty and wonder in the unexpected – it’s like Blue Planet, if it all took place in a suburban high street chemist. Here are 11 times when we’ve all wondered “How did that get THERE?”

In the pockets of the slightly musty fleecy anorak you were about to take to the charity shop

You’re pretty sure you weren’t even having periods, last time you wore this. There is a photo of you taken in 2005 where you’ve accessorised it with a Bratz lunchbox and a grazed knee.

In the carrier bag that has been wrapped around another carrier bag that contains the exploding Thermos full of soup that you hoped to eat for lunch.

Urghh, it’s as if the universe wants you to eat sandwiches forever. On the plus side, having a random absorbency aid in the mix probably limited the damage you’ve done to your schoolbag.

In your bra

It’s a good idea in an emergency, and then a terrible idea when you forget until you get ready for bed and discover that the scratchy lace you’ve been moaning all day about is actually pointy cellophane.

In your trainers

Tampons are secret fitness fiends, and have a mysterious ability to roll into the toe of any sports shoe. We think it’s their passive-aggressive way of reminding us that a little exercise will ease the cramps.

In the book you’d put down somewhere and forgotten about

“This book is brilliant! I mustn’t lose my place. I just need a bookmark – but there are no receipts in my pocket. Not even a bit of tissue… oh, wait! I can use this tampon that’s been in my bra!”

In the middle of the floor of the bus

Everyone is looking at it. No-one is going to take responsibility for it. Someone is trying to edge it out of the way with their foot before a naughty boy spots it and yells “IS THAT YOURS? ARE YOU ON YOUR PERIOD?”

In the drawer where your family keeps old keys, screwdriver heads, bits of string and manuals for things that were thrown out three years ago

This drawer never, ever contains what you’re looking for, but it always has at least two tampons at the bottom, no matter how often you take them out and throw them away. It also contains an instruction manual for the tampons.

In the bag you ‘borrowed’ (without asking) from your sister

The only thing to do is to take a dignified breath, compose yourself and say “What do you mean, I stole your bag? I think what actually happened is that you stole my tampons.”

In your pencil case

But only when someone you fancy or are keen to befriend asks to borrow a highlighter. “Help yourself!” you say cheerfully, before spotting it and praying they assume it’s a novelty rubber.

In your wallet

“And will you be paying by cash, card or menstrual hygiene product?”

Under your heel

You’re pottering about in your bedroom, doing some relaxed admin, sighing at your floordrobe and putting socks in the washing basket to be productive. Suddenly there’s a twinge in your ankle and an unwelcome pressure on your sole, as you’re forced to grab the wall so that you don’t fall over. Less than two inches of cotton can, under the right circumstances, floor an entire human being.

This really should be used in a Bond film as a plot device.

@NotRollergirl

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Cartwheels, leotards, THE SPLITS – gymnastics might sound like the most terrifying activity you could ever attempt on your period, but for those of us who love it and don’t want our bodies to hold us back (like, evereverever) you can totally still participate in gym. Yep, even if you’re bleeding.

How, you shriek? What if my pad looks massive and slides out of place, how the heck do I even attach it because I can’t use wings, or what if my tampon string hangs out in the middle of a backbend? The period terror is real.

Well don’t fret, back-flipping dreamers. One of team betty actually used to be a fancy pants gymnast and has a few helpful tips for you…

Double up

If you’re a bit of a pro, you’re probably used to whipping off all your underwear before you slip into your leotard – after all, knickers on show underneath your super glitzy competition outfit is not the one. But if you’re on your period, an extra layer between your vagina and your costume could be the difference between a flawless floor routine and one that’s accessorised with blood. Just try high-cut knickers if you’re worried about flashing and go for a pair that’s the same colour as your leotard.

Prep your pants

If you think you might-maybe-possibly-a-tiny-bit be about to come on your period, prep those knickers! Use those high-cut undies to the max and make sure you stick in a panty liner – even if the chances of you coming on are literally 1%. You can’t be too careful, especially if your feet are going behind your head at any point.

Try tampons

Never tried using tampons before? Well, this might be the perfect time to give them a go. Ask your mum to pick some up from the supermarket or pop to the shops after school then block out some bathroom time to perfect your technique. Chances are you probably won’t nail it the first time, the second, probably even the third time, but if you stay super relaxed you might be able to slide it in just fine. All you need to think about come competition time is tucking in your string and smiling!

You do you

No matter how much you want to compete or take part in your fave weekend club, if you’re not feeling up to it just stay at home! There’s absolutely no shame in looking after yourself and giving your body what it needs to get through your time of the month, whether you’re suffering from cramps, headaches or you’re just tired out. Period.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

1. Like a tiny man is busking in your uterus and has fashioned your fallopian tubes into guitar strings, so he can gently pluck them… constantly. Day and night. The same tunes, again and again.

2. Like someone’s replacing the cheese on their spag bol for your uterus and is ferociously grating it with all the strength they have because WHY NOT, EH.

3. Like some douchebag has snuck up on you and punched your uterus hard square in the face, then run away with plans to come back in approx. 10 minutes and do it again.

4. Like your P.E. teacher has decided that today’s dodgeball session will take place in your uterus and the whole school is playing.

5. Like an overenthusiastic orchestra conductor has mistaken your uterus for the Royal Albert Hall, is waving his arms incredibly dramatically, causing an absolute ruckus and EVERYTHING IS JUST A BIT TOO MUCH.

6. Like your uterus has gained actual sentience and is trying to claw its way out of your body for the great escape to freedom.

7. Like the douchebag from earlier has come back and given your fanny a bruised black eye. THROBBING. WHY THE THROBBING FANNY?!

8. Like it’s raining and the kids next door have decided to play Swingball in your uterus (instead of spending hours on YouTube like normal kids).

9. Like someone’s wringing out your uterus like a flannel.

10. Like your nan’s tied your fallopian tubes into a pretty little bow for her cat.

11. Like a Brownie group are camping in your uterus but have had too much sugar on their first night away from their families and are screaming, ‘KOOKABURRA SITS IN THE OLD GUM TREE’ while running around playing Tag and you’re just weeping.

12. Like your uterus is about to do a bungee jump and is shaking with nerves so much it might actually fall out.

13. Like someone is using your ovaries as stress balls.

14. Like you’ve got those really weird pins and needles in your foot where it’s super numb but if you try and move it a fraction then it suddenly vibrates and feels SO WEIRD.

No?? Just me?

Oh. 

@louisejonesetc

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Hailey Hamilton

Whether you’re the kind of person who faints at a papercut or can watch gory hospital shows without nightmares, the monthly drama in your pants can be daunting. For one thing, it can look (and feel) like SO. MUCH. BLOOD.

But it isn’t. Honestly, it isn’t.

The average person will pass between two and eight tablespoons of menstrual fluid during their whole period. So even at their heaviest, that’s still less than half of a small Starbucks cup size – and it could be as little as a squirt of syrup. But let’s not ruin syrup by thinking about that too much.

Will it always be like this?

Just like your favourite hot chocolate order, the heaviness of your period can vary from person to person. The bottom line is: we’re all different, and you’ll find out what’s normal for your body.

It’s common for bleeding to be heavier during the first day or two, then calm down and lighten up towards the end of your period (so better use it as an excuse to claim that last cookie now).

TL;DR? Here's the important stuff:
  • On average, you’ll only produce between two and eight tablespoons of menstrual fluid during your whole entire period (it just feels like loads more).
  • It’s common for your period to start heavier and get lighter – both through the week, and as you get older. But everybody is different.
  • If your period is so heavy that it’s making life difficult, have a chat to your GP.

Your first period will often be light, more like a sticky stain or a few reddish-brown spots (more delightful details here), but many people find their periods are heavier in the first few years, while things are settling down. Stress, diet, medication, health conditions and loads of other things can affect the amount you bleed from month to month, and also over the course of your adult life – so don’t panic if you go from a trickle to a stream to a river.

Um, it feels like a waterfall.

Still don’t panic! Remember, it’s so much less than it looks. Periods are tricksters like that.

But if you find you’re bleeding so much that you have to change your pad or tampon every hour, use both a tampon and pad at once, or get up in the middle of the night to change your pad or tampon, it’s known as ‘flooding’ – and it’s not much fun.

So don’t be a hero, tell someone! If heavy periods are making life difficult, your GP should be able to help.

And if anyone tells you to ‘just go with the flow’, you have permission to throw a cushion at them.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Katie Edmunds

You know your period? That friend that shows up every month, whether you want it to or not, and stays for about a week. It may eat you out of house and home, or occasionally make you want to curl up and die, but it isn’t unfamiliar. From the first telltale cramp to that final uncomfortable tampon, you know your period inside-out.

Or do you? Unsurprisingly, periods are complicated business, scientifically and historically speaking. So sit back and let us hit you with some AMAZING PERIOD FACTS.

Sitting comfortably? Well, just wait.

1. You can get your PERIOD in your NOSE

Okay, well, you probably won’t, but it’s called ‘vicarious menstruation‘ and it involves bleeding from somewhere that isn’t your uterus. Women have bled from their eyes, noses and even lungs during their periods, and it occurs because your blood capillaries all over your body soften during menstruation, and sometimes allow blood to come out. It’s okay, it’s very, very rare.

2. Periods are more painful in the cold

Cold weather can also make your period last longer and be heavier. Hooray for living on an island stuck between the Atlantic and the chilly North Sea! Let’s all move to Spain!

3. You sound uglier during your moon time

NB: This is not us dissing you, this is science. Researchers tested the same women’s voices at different times of the month, and participants could identify not only when the women were on their period – purely from listening to their voices – but also that they sounded ‘less attractive’ when they were.

4. Periods can make you stupidererer

Researchers at the University of Bath have found that women’s cognitive abilities actually take a slight dive during menstruation. Here’s the link to the study so you can send it to your teacher next time they say you’re less than stellar.

5. Humans, humpback whales and elephants are the only animals that go through menopause

Hey, Moby Dick and Dumbo! Menopause REPRESENT!

6. But only the macaque monkey has anything close to a human menstrual cycle, at 29 days

So remember to fistbump the next macaque monkey you see!

7. You don’t bleed as much as you think you do

Yes, although on bad days it can feel like a gory horror movie in your underpants, you actually only lose about a cup of blood per period. The rest of it is bits of your uterine lining and (sorry) mucus.

8. Some women have longer cycles than others because their eggs are lazy

Well, not lazy, but some people’s cycles take 31 days because, after ovulation, their eggs take the scenic route travelling down the fallopian tubes to the uterus.

9. Those clots? They’re made by CONTRACTIONS

Yes, contractions like labour contractions. When you have period cramps, your uterus contracts. When this happens very frequently it can stop your blood from thinning out before it comes out, resulting in clots. (Don’t worry, a few 5p-sized clots a day is totally normal.)

10. In fact, your body mimics pregnancy symptoms in the run-up to your period

Cramping, nausea, tiredness, bloating, abdominal pain, bad moods, sensitive breasts and out-of-control appetites. The symptoms of PMS are astonishingly close to those of early pregnancy, so basically a) give yourself a break if your period is on its way, and b) be nice to a pregnant lady today.

11. And, talking of pregnancy, you can get pregnant during your period

Sperm can live for up to five days in the vagina, so if you ovulate soon after your period, you could technically get pregnant. Although it’s unlikely. Store away that info for if/when you need it.

12. In fact, in the Middle Ages, people thought that red-haired people were conceived during a period

Which makes a wonky sort of sense, so long as you don’t think about it too hard.

fred and george weasley

13. Girls used to start menstruating at 16

Even as relatively recently as the 1800s, girls didn’t get their periods until they were well into their teens. Today, whereas, the average age to reach puberty is 12 – better nutrition and more stress are to blame, says science.

14. Menstrual blood used to cure everything from headaches to warts

At least people thought it did in Olden Times. Menstrual blood was used as medicine for a number of conditions, including leprosy, plague, and DEMONIC POSSESSION. It was also used in love charms, but you shouldn’t probably try this at home. If only because it’d be so messy.

15. Women used to menstruate during the new moon

In really Olden Times there was no artificial lighting, and some scientists believe that women originally ovulated when the moon was full, and started menstruating when it was new.

16. Some scientists also think that artificial lights influence women’s periods

Scientists have proved that using artificial lights during the night can shorten menstrual cycles, so who knows what effect everyday lighting has had across the world.

17. There is a Disney movie about your period

In 1946, Walt Disney made an educational animated film called The Story of Menstruation. It’s not cute and it doesn’t feature any snowmen – but it is thought to be the first film to ever use the word “vagina”, so that’s nice.

18. Retail fever hits you two weeks before your period, says science

In a study at the University of Hertfordshire, scientists found that women were more likely to go shopping 10 days before their period started than at any other time of the month. So now you know when to lock up your wallet.

19. Under 18? Got irregular periods? Don’t worry, it’s normal

It’s just your body settling into its rhythm.

And finally…

20. “Tampon” is French for “plug”

Ahhh, Fronshe. Zer language of larve. So romantique.

@orbyn

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Katie Edmunds

We all know that an hour of maths homework feels longer than an hour of hanging out with your friends. It’s science or, er… something. It’s the same phenomenon that can make a day on your period feel like a week. But while it feels like forever, how long is it actually meant to last?

Can this be over already?

When you first start menstruating, there will probably be some variation in how long your period lasts, but it could be anywhere between one day and 10 days. It’s also likely that your period will be a bit irregular, stopping and starting and stopping and starting more times than Ross and Rachel in Friends.

When your cycle gets more regular, you will have a better idea of how long your period will last.

Okay, but what’s the average?

Generally, periods last for anywhere from two to seven days. Once your uterus has stopped jumping up and down with all the excitement of puberty, things should become fairly consistent. So, if you’re one of the #blessed people who have three-day periods, it’s likely they’ll stay that way for a while.

TL;DR? Here's the important stuff:
  • When you first start menstruating, there will probably be some variation in how long your period lasts, but it could be anywhere between one day and 10 days.
  • When your cycle gets more regular, you will have a better idea of how long your period will last.
  • Generally, periods last for anywhere from two to seven days.

We know it can feel like your period is going on forever, but that doesn’t mean you’ve drawn the short straw in the uterus lottery. Those who have periods for three days might find they’re more intense, like a 100m sprint. Whereas those who have a full week or more might find that their period is longer but lighter (you know where this is going), like a mile-long jog.

Either way, you’ll find out what’s the usual deal for you. And remember – sometimes 10 is better than one…

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

The only thing worse than having a little sister who adores you and constantly copies you, is having a little sister who has recently decided that you’re less cool than a school assembly about litter.

When I was 11, my 10-year-old sister Beth was my one-girl fandom. I’d dread school break times, as she’d rush towards me in the playground and wrap her arms around my waist like a rubber ring – I’d wriggle and struggle, grumbling as she slowed me down and stopped me from finding a dinner lady to complain to. She made up songs, stories and secret worlds, searching out the weirdness in everything, always spotting something magical amongst the small and unseen.

She filled our shared bedroom with ice cream cartons full of snails, which she ‘raced’ across our garden – and she treated her tiny friends with intense tenderness. When I complained about our new roommates and said it was “disgusting” to sleep with snails, she’d say “Shhhh! They can hear you!” She was passionate, she was sincere, and she always wanted to join in.

But I was horrible to her.

I didn’t want her playing with my perfume or reading my magazines, because she was a ‘baby’. I was too busy talking about boys (not to boys, let’s not be crazy) to be bothered about her snails.

Then, as we both headed towards our teens, something shifted. I guess I got what I deserved.

Beth became cooler than me – and suddenly, I became the annoying one. She found new friends. We started listening to different music. While she’d once begged to be involved when I went on about which song was number one, she started bragging about being a fan of alternative bands, and told me that I was pathetic for listening to what was in the charts. She used to say I looked like a princess when I wore a pretty dress. I was “way too girly” and “clearly had no personality or any individuality”.

I would have given anything – the £57 in my Halifax savings account, my best nail polish, the pale pink Topshop aviator jacket I’d spent months saving up for – to get babyish Beth back. I would have taken her to every single party I was invited to, and she could have held onto my waist all night long. But she’d rather wear a dreaded princess party dress in public than be seen with me.

Beth seemed so tough and together that I was stunned when I walked past her room one morning and heard muffled sobs. I thought she said my name. I must have been imagining things. Then she said it again. I gently pushed the door open.

“Don’t tell Mum,” she murmured, and my brain immediately exploded with terrifying thoughts about what might be wrong. “But I’ve started.”

My first reaction was relief that nothing horrible had happened. But when I looked at Beth’s face, I realised that to her, it was horrible. Her body was changing, and it had frightened her.

I’d started my periods over a year ago, and was starting to find the rhythm of my body quite comforting, from the familiar ache in my lower back, a couple of days before I was due, to that feeling of prickly tearfulness that disappeared the moment the period arrived.

“It’s OK.” I held my arms out to her. “At the moment, it feels like nothing in the world will ever be OK again. But this is the worst part, I promise.” She stayed stiff for a second, then hugged me back.

“You really do have to tell Mum, though. She’ll know exactly what to do.”

We weren’t exactly BFFs again – and as we grew up and got older, we became even more different, and even better at antagonising each other.

But from that moment, we were in a conspiracy of two. A slightly awkward tag team who knew exactly how to wind each other up, but who would always share hot water bottles. Even on the occasions when I was barely speaking to Beth, I’d always offer her my last two Nurofen.

Sisters are strange, and even though we’re both grown up, I’ll never stop being thrilled and bewildered by the fact that Beth can be simultaneously so similar and so different from me. When we were on the brink of our teens, those differences seemed like a huge divide. But learning that our bodies worked in the same way, even if our minds didn’t, brought us back together again.

@NotRollergirl

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: 10 Things I Hate About You