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    5 Things You Didn’t Know About Your Period

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    3. Your period changes throughout your life. continued...

    Once you get your very first period, your cycles may be longer, meaning more time may pass from when one period starts to the next. A typical cycle for a teenage girl may be 21 to 45 days. Over time, they get shorter and more predictable, averaging about 21 to 35 days.

    Hormone changes that happen during perimenopause -- the years before menopause when your body starts to make less estrogen -- can throw you for a loop. The time from one period to the next may get shorter or longer, and you may have heavier or lighter bleeding during your period. This phase can last up to 10 years before you start menopause and stop getting your period for good.

    Gradual life changes are normal, but sudden, unusual issues like very heavy bleeding or missed periods are not. Talk with your doctor if you notice that something seems off.

    4. Tampons and pads aren’t your only choices.

    The 21st-century period sure has come a long way. You have more options than ever for managing that time of the month.

    A menstrual cup is a flexible cup that fits inside your vagina and collects blood during your period. Period panties are super-absorbent, and you can wear them on their own on your lighter days or with a tampon during heavier times. Reusable cloth pads can be washed and worn again.

    These products can be cost-savers, since you can reuse them, and they also create less waste. In some cases, they give you more time between changes. For example, you need to change a tampon every 4 to 8 hours, but you may be able to go up to 12 hours with a menstrual cup before you empty it.

    There are pros and cons to these newer options, just as there are with tampons and pads. But you can find one that works best for you with some trial and error.

    5. PMS is still a mystery.

    You know the drill. It’s 1 or 2 weeks before your period starts, and here come the breakouts, sluggishness, cravings, bloating, and mood swings. When it comes to premenstrual syndrome (PMS), the struggle is real.

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