What's Going on Down There? Answers to Your Period Questions

Laura Doss/Fitness Magazine
Laura Doss/Fitness Magazine

By Brittany Vickers

What do you really know about your period? Turns out it may not be all that much. Here, Dr. Lauren Streicher, Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Northwestern University's medical school, debunks the most common myths and questions about that time of the month. Because who can really remember all the way back to that uncomfortable PE class?

Q. I have very heavy periods. Could the blood loss from my period actually cause fainting?
A. Fainting is rare, but those who have especially heavy flows should talk to their gynecologist to make sure they are not anemic, a blood disorder where you don't have enough hemoglobin to carry oxygen from your lungs through your body. During a normal period, you should be able to wear a tampon for three to four hours comfortably and not experience any blood clots. If you think your flow is too heavy and often feel fatigued, talk to you doc to rule out anemia.

Related: What to Eat for an Easier Period

Q. Can your tampon really get lost?
A. Not lost, but it can become difficult to retrieve if it turns sideways or is at the very back of the vagina. If this happens, the most important thing is not to panic. Retrieve it by lying on your back and elevating your hips with a pillow. Insert two fingers into your vagina, creating a hook to bring the tampon forward. If you forgot you put a tampon in to begin with and insert another one or have sex, you'll notice an unpleasant odor and discharge. It's not an infection -- your tampon has just been pushed back. If you're still having trouble finding it, take a trip to your gynecologist. This kind of visit happens more often than you think!

Q. Is PMS real, or just an excuse to be bitchy?
A. It is real, but if someone is moody all month long as opposed to just before a period, PMS is not the culprit. PMS happens when you start ovulating and you experience things like weight gain, breast sensitivity, and mood changes. Those symptoms are brief, and disappear once you start your period. It's impossible to PMS all month long, so ditch that excuse when picking a fight with your boyfriend.

Related: The Best Natural Remedies to Treat PMS

Q. Does using birth control to skip a period have any consequences?
A. Not usually. If your doctor gives you the green light to take birth control, is typically safe to use them to bypass a period. By doing so, you skip all the negatives that come with your monthly cycle, which includes possible headaches, cramps and bloating. You may notice slight spotting as your body adjusts to a new cycle, but this will decrease over time.

Q. Is it possible to be pregnant and still have a period?
A. No. Many women have light bleeding in the early stages of pregnancy, which they interpret as a period, but it's not. Here's a good rule of thumb for knowing the difference: The irregular spotting you have when pregnant is typically dark brown or very light, and not heavy enough to use a pad or tampon.

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