Go With the Flow

My period doesn’t come at the same time every month. What’s wrong with me?
For the first two years, an irregular cycle is totally normal. Think of it as your body “warming up.” Stress plays a part in regularity, too. School pressure, parental probs, guy issues -- all of it affects your cycle. Excessive exercisers or girls with eating disorders can also experience interruptions in menstruation, so if this is you, talk to your doc about it.

I’m bloated! Is there a way to reduce the puffiness in my paunch?
It's a total bummer of menstruation to retain fluid. It’s actually caused by hormones, not because of what you're drinking. Your best defense is to down six to eight glasses of water a day to flush out the fluids. And avoid food that's processed or made with tons of salt, which adds to water retention.

What's the best plan of attack for killer cramps?
Cramps happen because your uterus is contracting before and during menstruation. You could try taking a steamy bath or drinking hot tea to warm your insides. Heating pads feel really good, too. Exercise is a good remedy for some girls, so take a yoga class or go for a stroll. And ibuprofen is an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory med that works magic.

Do periods have an odor?
Once you get your period, there’s a lot going on…and a lot coming out of you. Menstruation does produce a slight smell, but it's natural, and it's not bad or offensive. If you wear a pad, the smell might be a little more noticeable because the blood is collecting outside your body -- so remember to change it often. Tampons are inserted inside your body, which reduces the smell.

Is using a tampon tricky at all?
Inserting tampons isn't as tricky as you might think. Inside the box of tampons, you’ll find step-by-step instructions with pictures -- give it a quick read. Then trust yourself. And take it slow. No need to rush, right? Gently insert the tampon, angling it toward the small of your back (your vagina is not straight up and down). If you feel like you can't get it in, take a breath, relax and try again. You’ll be a pro before you know it.

by Ramona Platt