Normal Menstrual Cycle in Teens: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Menstrual flow

The menstrual cycle is the series of changes a woman's body goes through to prepare for a possible pregnancy. About once a month, the uterus grows a new, thick lining. This lining is then ready to receive a fertilized egg. The egg becomes fertilized if it joins with a man's sperm and implants in the lining of the uterus. This is how pregnancy starts. When there is no fertilized egg, the uterus sheds its lining. This is the monthly menstrual bleeding, or period. Women have periods from their early teen years until menopause, around age 50.

A normal cycle lasts from 21 to 35 days. Count from the first day of one menstrual period until the first day of your next period to find the number of days in your cycle.

Some women have no discomfort during their menstrual cycles. But others have mild to severe symptoms. If you have problems, ask your doctor about over-the-counter medicine. It may help relieve pain and bleeding.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Write down the day you start your menstrual period each month. Also note how long your period lasts. If your cycle is regular, it can help you predict when you will have your next period.
  • To help with symptoms, get regular exercise and eat healthy foods. Also try to limit caffeine and reduce stress.

To relieve menstrual cramps

  • Put a warm water bottle or a warm cloth on your belly. Or use a heating pad set on low. Heat improves blood flow and may relieve pain.
  • To relieve back pressure, lie down and put a pillow under your knees. Or lie on your side and bring your knees up to your chest.
  • Get regular exercise. It improves blood flow, which may decrease pain.
  • Use pads instead of tampons if you have pain in your vagina.
  • Take anti-inflammatory medicines to reduce pain. These include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve). Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label. Start taking the recommended dose when symptoms begin or one day before your menstrual period starts.

To manage menstrual bleeding

  • Tampons range from small to large, for light to heavy flow. You can place a tampon in your vagina by using the slender tube packaged with the tampon. Or you can tuck it in with a finger. Change the tampon at least every 4 to 8 hours. This helps prevent leakage and infection.
  • Pads range from thin and light to thick and super absorbent. They protect your clothing, with or without using a tampon.
  • Menstrual cups are inserted in the vagina to collect menstrual flow. You remove the menstrual cup to empty it. Some are disposable and some can be washed and used again.
  • Whatever you use, be sure to change it regularly. Tampons are ideal for activities that pads are not practical for, such as swimming.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have sudden, severe pain in your belly or pelvis.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have severe vaginal bleeding. This means that you are soaking through your usual pads every hour for 2 or more hours.
  • You are dizzy or light-headed, or you feel like you may faint.
  • You have new belly or pelvic pain.
  • You develop a sudden fever during your period.
  • You have flu-like symptoms, such as muscle aches and pain, stomach cramps, a headache, or a sore throat, at the same time as your period.
  • You develop a rash like a sunburn during your period.
  • You have diarrhea and are vomiting during your period.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Current as of: October 13, 2016