Confused? Common period terms
Menstrual cycle, Shark Week, TOM, oestrogen, uterine lining - what does it all mean?
There are a lot of new terms to learn when you first start your period.
Confused? We don't blame you. We've broken down the most frequently used terms for ya!
Applicator tampon - tampons that come in an application device that helps insert the tampon into your vagina. These types of tampons are recommended for first time users. Tampons are safe if you follow best practice guidelines.
Blood clots – these can look quite scary, but it's nothing to worry about. They're just jelly-like blobs of blood and tissue, and often follow a bout of period cramps, period pain.
Cervix – your cervix sits up at top of your vagina and in between your vagina and your uterus. During your period, your cervix opens slightly to allow the lining of your uterus to pass through to your vagina. Your cervix is the reason a tampon can never get “lost”. This is because tampons can’t go through the cervix. Learn about your vagina.
Cervical mucus - a slimy substance produced during ovulation, which looks similar to egg white. It's clear, translucent and has a stretchy texture. It indicates the most fertile time of the menstrual cycle.
Discharge – before your period starts for the first time, you’ll start producing discharge. This is a bit strange at first, but totally normal. It's your body's way of keeping your vagina clean. Healthy discharge is clear and white - discharge should never smell, if it does go see your GP.
Oestrogen – is the primary female sex hormone. It does a lot of things, in period terms it's responsible for the growth of the uterine lining, what comes away as period blood.
Fallopian tube/s – these are tubes on either side of your uterus, the egg (ovum) travels from the ovaries through the fallopian tubes and to the uterus. If an egg isn't fertilised and doesn't implant into the uterine lining, your hormones will drop and the lining will come away, i.e. your period.
Hormones – female sex hormones, such as oestrogen and progesterone, control physical characteristics (boobs, pubic hair, uterine lining growth) and sexual development through puberty and into womanhood, including the menstrual cycle.
Menarche – this is the start of your first period taken from the Greek words “month” and “beginning”. This is the peak of puberty.
Menopause – this is when your period stops, generally between the ages of 45 – 50. Your period stops because your childbearing years are over.
Menstrual blood – same as period blood.
Menstrual cups – reusable cups that are inserted inside the vagina to collect period blood. Cups sit under the cervix when you have your period. There are careful hygiene instructions you need to follow to clean cups, such as boiling them every day to prevent Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS).
Menstrual hygiene – this can refer to two things;
- The products you use to collect period blood,
- Ensuring you maintain high levels of personal hygiene during your periods, showering, wearing clean underwear and remembering to change your tampon every 4 – 8 hours.
Menstruation – this is your period, just the official term.
Menstruation cycle – this is the 28-day cycle your body follows from the end of one period to the start of the next period. During this time the uterine lining grows back and an egg will be released from the ovaries.
Ovaries – the size of an almond nut, ovaries sit to the left and right of your uterus and are are connected to your uterus via the fallopian tubes. Your eggs live in your ovaries.
Ovulation – the process of an egg being released by the ovaries into the fallopian tubes, happens (roughly) every month.
Ovum – the official name for a human egg.
Panty liners – these are used at the beginning and end of your period when your flow is light.
Period – this is when you bleed out the uterine lining through your vagina. Most periods last anywhere from 2 - 7 days.
Period blood – the blood that exits your body via your vagina each month. Period blood is the same as normal blood, is does also contain mucosal tissue from the uterine lining.
Period cramps – cramps suck, there is no two ways about it. The pain is felt in the lower abdomen before and, or during your period and can range from a dull ache to severe pain that has been compared to early labour pains.
Period cycle – same as menstrual cycle.
Period names - Aunt Flo, surfing the crimson tide, TOM, Shark Week, on the rag, got the painters in, ladies week, riding the cotton pony, monthlies.
Period pad – pads used to collect period blood, worn outside your body in your underwear.
Period pain – pain caused by the uterus shedding it’s lining, the uterus spasms to get rid of the blood, which also causes pain.
Period signs - for first timers, signs could include discharge, feeling bloated or tired. For girls who have regular periods, signs could be a brownish discharge, which is left over blood from your previously period mixed in with normal discharge. Other signs could include skin breakouts, cravings for sweet foods such as chocolate and period cramps.
Period symptoms – PMS, mood swings, tiredness, constipation, skin breakouts and, or period pain.
Progesterone – another female sex hormone that is involved in periods and the menstruation cycle.
Puberty – this is when your body (in both girls and boys) develops to reach sexual maturity. In girls this means developing breasts, growing pubic hair, gaining weight and hips widening.
Pubic hair – hair that grows under your armpits, and also around the genital area.
Tampons – cotton sticks with strings that are inserted into your vagina using your fingers.
Applicator tampons are the alternative if you don't want to manually insert tampons, and the recommended tampons for teens and first starters.
Tampons are used to internally collect period blood. The string is used to pull the tampon out when it needs to be replaced and thrown away.
Uterine lining – layers of tissue that grow inside your uterus and onto the uterine wall. This is what comes away each month as period blood.
Uterus – this is the organ where babies grow from a fertilised egg that implants into the uterine lining. It's also the organ that sheds its lining, which results in periods / period blood.
Vagina – internal part of the female genitalia. You can’t see your vagina. It’s where period blood comes out of, it’s also where babies are delivered from, and where sexual intercourse occurs. Learn about your vagina.
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