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The body

Menstrual period

Mens - engelska

A menstrual period, or period, is blood that comes from the uterus and out of the vagina about once a month.

En almanacka där någon ringar in dagar med en röd penna. Illustration.

Usually there are four weeks between each period. But in the beginning when you start menstruating, there may be shorter or longer intervals between periods.

Different girls bleed different amounts of blood. When you bleed a lot, the blood is red, and it may contain lumps. At the end of your period, the blood is most often red-brown and dry. It is common to bleed from 3 to 7 days.

Most girls get their first period between the age of 12 and 14. Some girls may get their period as early as 9 and as late as 16 years old. If you haven’t started your period by the time you are 16 years of age, you should visit the school nurse or a youth guidance centre.

Menstrual cramps

It is common to have a stomach ache or back pain at the beginning of a period. Some girls experience a lot of pain. Cramps are not dangerous.

Here are some things you can try to relieve the pain:

  • Be more active in something that you enjoy, for example, go jogging, go for a walk or dance.
  • Place something warm on the area where it hurts.
  • Take over-the-counter painkillers when the cramps start.
En person ligger på sidan i en soffa och håller sig för magen. Illustration.

Feeling bad before your period

It is common to feel sad or irritated in the days before your period starts. This is called PMS. This is how PMS can feel:

  • You can be more moody or start crying easily.
  • You are tired.
  • Your breasts ache.
  • You are hungrier than usual.

Things usually feel better once your period starts. It may help if you take it easy and eat well. It is also a good idea to be active. 

You can get help if your period is difficult

Sometimes you might need help with something related to your period. In that case, you can contact  the school nurse (skolsköterskan), a youth guidance centre (ungdomsmottagning) or a health clinic. These are things you can get help with:

  • You bleed a lot. In that case, you can get help so that you bleed less.
  • Your period has stopped coming. You can get help to find out why.
  • You have a lot of pain or feel very bad when you have your period. In that case, you can get a prescription for medication that helps.
  • You want to move the time of your period or avoid it entirely. You can get help with that.
  • Your vaginal area hurts, or your period is very difficult because you have been circumcised. You can get help.
  • You have questions about your period. A midwife can answer them.

Sanitary protection

There are four types of sanitary protection that you can buy: sanitary pads, panty liners, tampons and sanitary protection cups. All of these, except for the sanitary protection cup, are available in most supermarkets, kiosks and pharmacies. Sanitary protection cups can be bought online or at certain pharmacies. 

En binda utan blod. Illustration.

Sanitary pad

A sanitary pad absorbs blood. You wear the pad in your underpants. On one side is an adhesive strip that holds the pad in place. There are different sizes. Most girls need to change pads more often during the first days of their period. A pad may begin to smell or leak if you wear it too long.

Panty liner

A panty liner is like a sanitary pad but smaller. You can use it at the end of your period when there is only a little blood. Some girls wear a panty liner when they use a tampon to avoid getting blood in their underpants if the tampon becomes full. 

Tre tamponger utanför sina förpackningar. Illustration.


You insert a tampon into the vagina. It absorbs blood so that it doesn’t leak. You can go swimming and do sports with a tampon.

There are different sizes of tampon. Choose a larger tampon if you bleed a lot. You can use a tampon even if you have never had sexual intercourse.

Snippan i genomskärning från sidan så att det syns hur tampongen sitter i slidan. Utsatt med pilar finns livmoder, slida, tampong och slidöppning. Illustration.

This is what to do

The first time you try a tampon, do so when you are bleeding heavily since it is easier to insert. Choose a small tampon. It can be easier if you squat a little with your legs spread apart.

  • Wash and dry your hands.
  • Remove the plastic around the tampon.
  • It is the end with no string that is to be inserted inside the vaginal opening.
  • Spread the labia with the hand that is not holding the tampon.
  • Find the opening to the vagina and insert the tampon.

The vagina is angled to the back, so the tampon must be inserted a little towards the back. There may be a little resistance, but there is nothing that can be harmed in any way.

The tampon is supposed to sit high up in the vagina. The string is meant to hang out. You shouldn’t be able to feel the tampon. If you can feel it, then it is too far down. Try to push it up a little more. It must not be able to come out by itself, and it must not disappear into your body.

How often should I change tampons?

Change the tampon when you think that it may be full of blood. It slides out easily when you pull the string. If it is stuck, then it is probably dry and doesn’t need to be changed.

When you pull the tampon out, roll it in toilet paper and throw it in the wastebasket. 

You can leave a tampon in at night. Insert it before you go to sleep and change it as soon as you wake up. You can swim with a tampon. Change the tampon when you are finished.

Can a tampon get stuck?

Being unable to remove a tampon is very uncommon. Squat and insert a finger. Grab the string or the tampon and pull. You can get help from a midwife at a youth guidance centre (ungdomsmottagning) if you cannot remove a tampon.

En hand som håller i en menskopp. Foto.

Sanitary protection cup

A sanitary protection cup is made of soft rubber and can last for many years.

You insert it into the vagina and the blood flows into the cup. A sanitary protection cup holds more blood than a sanitary pad or a tampon.

You can swim with a sanitary protection cup.

This is what to do

The wide end goes in first. It can be easier if you squat a little with your legs spread apart.

  • Wash your hands.
  • Spread the labia with the hand that is not holding the cup.
  • Fold the sanitary protection cup and insert it into the vagina. It unfolds so that it stays tight.

You should be able to feel the stem with your finger, but it should not stick out.

To remove it, pull the stem. You can empty the blood into the toilet. Wash the cup with soap and warm water. Empty it two to four times a day.

A video about menstruation by RFSU

This is a video by RFSU.

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