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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Overview of periods

A period is part of the menstrual cycle and refers to the shredding of the lining, called endometrium, of your uterus (womb). This blood and tissue leaves your body through your vagina. Most people call this bleeding a period.

Periods can start any time but it usually happens between the ages of 9 and 15. Some people start their periods earlier and some later. This is not usually a cause for concern. You keep getting periods until menopause.

A period happens approximately every 28 days though this can range from 21 to 40 days. Day 1 is the first day of bleeding. A period usually lasts between 3 and 8 days.

Sanitary products are used to collect the blood. The most common types are:

Many people, especially teenagers and young adults, get period pain. It's also quite common to experience a mix of physical and emotional symptoms in the week or two that lead up to your period. This is called premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

If you're sexually active and your period is late, you might be pregnant. This can happen even if you're using contraception, as sometimes it can fail.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed September 2021.

See also:

Overview of the female reproductive system


Period problems

Page reference: 53354

Review key: HIPER-53354