5 Questions about Your Period You’ve Always Wanted to Ask
If you’re embarrassed to ask your OB/GYN a question about your period or how it works, you’re not alone. But we shouldn’t be shy when it comes to getting the clarity we need from our doctors. We may know a lot about how our bodies function, but that doesn’t mean we know everything. Here are some topline answers to period-related questions you may have wanted to ask.
1) When is period blood too much? Though it may look like you bleed a lot, the average amount of blood during an entire period is only about 2 to 3 tablespoons.1 If you’re concerned that you may have abnormal bleeding, which is heavy bleeding that lasts for more than seven days, there are some signs to look for. Contact your doctor if you’re experiencing the following2:
- More than one or two days of heavier than average flow
- Need to change your tampon or pad every hour or less
- Need to change pads or tampons during the night
- Passing blood clots the size of a quarter or larger
2.Why do I get blood clots? Finding large, dark clumps of blood on your pad or tampon can be a little alarming. But don’t worry, getting blood clots during your period is normal. When the uterus sheds its lining, blood and clots of tissue leave the body.3 But if you notice large or frequent clots, talk to your health care provider.
3. Can my tampon get stuck? Actually, no. Your tampon can’t get lost because there’s only one way out—through the vagina. If it ever feels stuck, it’s only temporary. Take a few deep breaths, relax and wait a few minutes. You should be able to get the tampon out.4
4. How often do I have to change my tampon? To lessen the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), a rare but serious infection, it’s recommended that you change your tampons at least every 4 to 6 hours. Although tampons themselves don’t cause TSS, it is caused by bacteria, usually called Staphylococcus aureus, that tends to flourish in a moist environment.5
5. Can I get pregnant if I have unprotected sex during my period? Yes, there’s a chance it can happen. Women are more likely to get pregnant from sex before ovulation—when the egg is released. This happens during the middle of the menstrual cycle, which is about two weeks before your period starts. But for women who have a shorter menstrual cycle (21 – 24 days) and have unprotected sex at the end of their period, pregnancy is possible, particularly since sperm can last in the vagina for up to five days. Overall, the probability is low, but it’s still possible.6
It’s important to remember that each woman’s body is different, and if you do have specific questions or concerns about your period, it’s always best to talk with your doctor.
- Mayo Clinic. Menorrhagia (heavy menstrual bleeding. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menorrhagia/symptoms-causes/syc-20352829. Accessed April 24, 2018.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Division of Blood Disorders, National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. Heavy Menstrual Bleeding. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/blooddisorders/women/menorrhagia.html. Updated August 28, 2015. Accessed May 1, 2018.
- TeensHealth. Is it Normal for Period Blood to Come Out in Clumps? https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/clumps.html?view=ptr&WT.ac=t-ptr. Published January 2015.
- Five Things Girls Want to Know About Periods. https://kidshealth.org/en/kids/five-period.html?view=ptr&WT.ac=k-ptr. Accessed April 25, 2018.
- Mayo Clinic. Toxic Shock Syndrome. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/toxic-shock-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20355384. Accessed April 25, 2018.
- American Pregnancy Association. Can You Get Pregnant on Your Period? http://americanpregnancy.org/getting-pregnant/can-get-pregnant-period/. Accessed April 25, 2018.