Text reads Your guide to all things Menstruation!

Welcome to your one-stop guide to what's happening to your body, how to handle it, and how to talk about it. 

We're here to help you understand everything you need to know about periods, scientifically known as ‘menstruation,’ and the menstrual cycle. Why is this important? Because whether you're a boy or a girl, neither or both, young or old, this is something we'll all encounter, directly or indirectly. It's all about being informed and supportive, so let's break the stigma and get the facts straight. We're here to make it easy and approachable for everyone!

What's a Period, Anyway?

Aunt Flo, Shark Week, the Crimson Tide. Periods. This monthly visitor comes by many names, but what exactly is it?

When people who menstruate undergo the changes of puberty, hormones are released which signal the body to prepare for potential pregnancy. This triggers the ovaries to release an egg to be fertilised, a process known as ‘ovulation.’ When an egg goes unfertilised within the few days following ovulation it begins to break down, and the lining of the uterus, which had thickened in preparation of pregnancy, starts to shed. This shedding of the uterine lining kicks off the process of menstruation, where the disintegrated tissue passes through the cervix and exits the body through the vagina.

It's essentially the body's way of saying,
"Hey, you're not pregnant!"

Embrace Period Talk

We believe that talking about periods openly and without embarrassment is essential. After all, this natural process affects about half of the population, and it's something we should all be comfortable talking about. Everyone can benefit from understanding it better.

So, there's no need to be shy about periods. They're a normal part of life, and without them, none of us would be here!
A group of people sit on a couch holding period products while tampons are thrown around them like confetti

Looking for Something Specific?

Maybe you're here because you just got your first period (yay!), or perhaps just to learn a little more about what's happening to your body each month. The information on this page has been lovingly adapted from our period education program, Period Talk by Talk Revolution, and covers everything you'll need to know to get through your period - or to support a loved one who menstruates. 

So let's start with the easy stuff! What info are you looking for? 

Your First Period

When to Expect Your First Period & What to do When it Arrives

On average, most people with a uterus will have their first period between the ages of 12 and 13, however, some people get it as early as 8, and others might have to wait until they're 16. Interestingly, a few may not get it at all! When it does arrive, it can be a bit surprising. You might notice some tummy cramps and see brownish blood in your underwear. But don't worry, it's all part of growing up! It's essential to feel comfortable talking to people you trust, like your closest friends and family, about it. They can help you navigate this new phase in life.

Your Period Toolkit: What you NEED to Know

Let's talk about the essentials for handling your period. We've got you covered:

Pads: Cotton-filled pads come in various sizes for different flows. Some even have wings that secure them to your underwear. Remember to change them regularly, and opt for unscented ones for comfort.

Liners: Similar to pads, these are great for light flows or vaginal discharge.

Reusable Cloth Pads: Eco-friendly and cost-effective, these washable cloth pads are
made from natural, unbleached cotton. They come in different sizes and can last for up to 2-3 years.

Tampons: For active days, tampons are your go-to. They're made of soft cotton and come with a handy string for easy removal. Remember to change them every 4-6 hours.

Applicator Tampons: These tampons come with a plastic or cardboard applicator for smoother insertion. Cardboard applicators are environmentally friendly, so give them a try.

Menstrual Cups: Made of silicone, these cups fit inside your vagina to collect menstrual flow.
They can stay in for up to 8 hours and are perfect for sports, including swimming. Some are reusable if you take good care of them.

Period Undies: These genius undies have a built-in liner that absorbs blood, so no need for pads, tampons, or cups. Super convenient!

Oh and chocolate, a heat pack, some pain killers (or a natural alternative), some comfy clothes
and a good book/film also go a long way to helping you through this time of the month!

With these options, you can choose what works best for you and your lifestyle. Periods won't hold you back!

Period Products: Your Period, Your Choice

During your period, you have various options to stay comfortable and protected. These include pads, tampons, cups, and even period underwear. The choice depends on your preference and activities.

  • For swimming, tampons or cups are your go-to options. There’s also period swimwear now too if you fancy giving them a crack.
  • Pads come in different types and are suitable for various situations.
  • Some prefer cups for their ease and practicality.
  • Period underwear is eco-friendly and offers comfort and leak protection.
  • Organic tampons and pads are always a good option, but are a bit more expensive.
  • Cloth pads are also a good choice for those seeking a reusable option.

The key is to explore these choices and find what works best for you. It's your period, and you have the freedom to choose what suits your body.
People holding period care options including pads, tampons and menstrual cups

Period 101: Staying Fresh and Clean

Alright, time for some period hygiene 101! We're here to make sure you feel your best during that time of the month. Here's what you need to know:

A woman disposing of a used tampon in the bin

Dispose Right

Pads and tampons should never take a plunge in the toilet. Wrap them in toilet paper and pop them in a rubbish bin instead – it's safer for your plumbing.

A teen girl with a towel wrapped around her hair looking in the mirror after showering

Stay Fresh

A shower or bath during your period is your BFF. Clean clothes and regularly changing your period product of choice helps keep you feeling fresh.

An image of a woman washing her hands


Remember to wash your hands before and after changing your period product. It's a simple step that makes a big difference in keeping things hygienic.

See, taking care of yourself during your period is all about feeling your best. So, keep these tips in mind, and you'll breeze through it like a pro!

Decoding a 'Normal' Period

What does a 'normal' period look like?

 It's not just blood; it's a unique mix of blood and tissue that's been camping out in your uterus during your menstrual cycle. So, when it finally makes its grand entrance, don't be shocked to see some 'clots' in the mix – those are just bits of tissue doing their thing. Here's the inside scoop:
Icon of a blood Stain

Clots Happen

Some jelly-like bits? Totally normal. It's just your body keeping things interesting.
Icon of three blood drops

Spotting is OK

Sometimes, you might only spot a tiny bit of blood – that's called spotting, and it's A-OK.
icon of a menstrual pad

Light and Easy

Your period can start and end on a lighter note – this is nothing to worry about!
Now, let's talk about what to look for in a 'normal' period:

  • The blood should be a bright, cranberry-red colour, like unset jelly (not too thin, not too thick).
  • Your period should swing by every 28-30 days and hang around for about 5-7 days.
  • The amount of blood can vary, but it's typically somewhere around 2-3 tablespoons.

Keep in mind, we're all unique, so what's 'normal'  for you might not be the same for someone else. Your body's got its rhythm, and that's what makes you, well, you! But if something seems unusual, or you are not too sure something is right, it is always best to see a health professional. 

How Do Periods Affect Us Physically and Emotionally?

Think of your menstrual cycle as a hormonal rollercoaster ride. Three main hormones oestrogen, testosterone, and progesterone, have their ups and downs in a specific pattern. These hormonal shifts don't just impact your period; they influence your mood, energy levels, love life, spending habits, sleep quality, food cravings, and overall health.

Knowing this is like having a heads-up on how you'll feel and behave during your cycle. It's pretty awesome because you can plan your days, weeks, and months accordingly, taking advantage of high-energy days and embracing the chill ones. It's like having your body's secret calendar!

Hormones and the Menstrual Cycle

There’s a lot more to a menstrual cycle than just a period.

A menstrual cycle is
a roughly four-week span of time when three key hormones - oestrogen, testosterone, and progesterone - rise and fall in a specific pattern.
icon of a woman with abdominal pain beside a calendar representing the start of her menstrual cycle

Phase One - Menstruation

Day 1 to Day 7
Oestrogen levels are at their lowest during menstruation. As the week goes on they start to rise making you more energised. This often means your verbal
skills and memory improve.
icon of a woman who is dressed up and smiling to represent high energy and confidence

Phase Two - Follicular

Day 8 to Day 14
Oestrogen and testosterone levels rise until they peak. Your mood, energy and patience will ordinarily continue to increase. This is often when you feel the most extroverted.
Icon of a woman holding a bouquet of love hearts to represent self-care and self-love

Phase Three - Ovulation

Day 15 to Day 22
Initially, oestrogen and testosterone levels drop which may leave you feeling low. In the second half of the week, oestrogen rises again and lifts you back up.
an icon of a woman with crossed arms and a squiggle in a thought bubble to represent irritability and anxiousness

Phase Four - Luteal

Final 6 Days of Cycle
Oestrogen and progesterone plunge. Low progesterone makes you hungrier and the lower oestrogen goes, the more likely you are to feel sad, irritable or anxious.
However—and this is a big “however”—not all women have bad moods during their premenstrual weeks.

Getting a good sleep, eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly and de-stressing can sometimes help you have just a little or no premenstrual grumpiness at all!

And that folks, is the menstrual cycle!

Meet the Hormones

Ever wondered about those hormones that rule the show in our bodies?
Let's break them down:
Illustration of the chemical structure of Estrogen


This powerhouse hormone is like your body's multitasker. It's the one behind the changes during puberty, like breast growth, and it even affects your skin and bone health. Oestrogen also keeps your menstrual cycle in check. When it's at its peak, it triggers the release of an egg, a key part of the cycle. If oestrogen levels drop, ovulation might not happen. Your ovaries are the champions producing this hormone, and it naturally decreases after menopause.
Illustration of the chemical structure of Progesterone


Another player produced by your ovaries and adrenal glands. It's a pregnancy supporter, helping maintain it. During your monthly cycle, it encourages the endometrium (the lining of your uterus) to prepare for a fertilised egg. But if that egg doesn't show up, progesterone levels dip, leading to your period. Sometimes, high progesterone levels are the culprits behind PMS symptoms like breast tenderness and mood swings. It's also the hormone which has you craving favourite comfort foods that are high in fat and calories because your body thinks it may have gotten pregnant during ovulation. 

Illustration of the chemical structure of Testosterone


Mostly known as a "male" hormone, but everyone has it! It plays a role in regulating energy and mental state. Men's testosterone levels are much higher, but those who menstruate also produce it in their ovaries. It's responsible for some male characteristics and helps
with overall body function. 

So, these hormones are the MVPs behind many aspects of our lives, from puberty to pregnancy, and they're just doing their thing, even if we don't always notice.

Understanding Period Pain: What You Need to Know

Period pain, also known as dysmenorrhea, is that discomfort that often sets up shop below your belly button. Here's the lowdown:

There are two types: Primary (the usual culprit, thanks to hormonal changes) and Secondary (caused by conditions like endometriosis).

Primary dysmenorrhea can feel different for each person. It's often described as cramping or aching, but sometimes it's sharp, like a stabbing sensation, or a feeling of something dragging.

This pain might also venture into your lower back or even down into your thighs, making them feel heavy or stiff. Usually, it kicks in within a few hours after your period starts, but for some, it can start a bit earlier. It's most intense during the first one to two days of your period.

Period pain often comes and goes, sometimes getting worse at night. It's like a wave, which is due to changes in hormone levels.

If the pain starts more than a day before your period or lasts beyond the first two days, it's a good idea to chat with your doctor.

But wait, there's more!

Alongside the pain, you might experience other symptoms like fatigue, mood swings, headaches, breast tenderness, and bloating. Some of these are pretty normal, but if you find yourself bedridden with unbearable tummy pain throughout your entire period, it's time to talk to your doctor.

Remember, it's essential to listen to your body and seek help if needed. Your health matters!
A woman with period pain holds her abdomen

Premenstrual Syndrome: Those Pesky Pre-Period Symptoms

Ever heard of PMS? It's like a little mood swing party that happens in the two weeks before your period.

Here's the scoop: It's super common to experience "PMS" symptoms! About a third of people with a period deal with at least one regularly, and factors like stress tend to make PMS symptoms worse for most folks.

Let's talk about some of the most common symptoms of PMS:

Breast Tenderness Icon

Breast Tenderness

Some say it feels like their breasts are turning into lead weights—heavy, sore, and hot.

Bloating Icon


Usually sets up camp in your lower belly. 

Headache Icon


From mild annoyances to head-throbbing champions. 

Junk Food Icon

Food Cravings

Think salty chips and carbs, and, of course, chocolate! 

Mood Swing Icon

Sudden Mood Swings

Feeling like the Hulk, but without the green skin. Easily irritable, angry or sad.

Now for some good news: As soon as your period kicks in, these emotional symptoms should disappear within 24-48 hours.

What Causes PMS Symptoms?

Scientists aren't entirely sure what causes these PMS symptoms, but it might have something to do with a hormone imbalance, with too much oestrogen and too little progesterone. They reckon the hormone: prostaglandin (PGF2a)—yep, the same one responsible for period pain, gets into your bloodstream and might be the culprit behind at least some of these symptoms. Changes in brain chemicals like serotonin and genetics could also play a part.

If your PMS symptoms are mild and don't disrupt your life too much, self-care options like yoga and dietary tweaks might help take the edge off. Remember, you're not alone, and there are ways to deal with these pesky pre-period visitors. Talk to your parents, family doctor, or a local sexual health service. You can also find helpful info online from trusted sources to make those PMS days more manageable!

Nutrition & Period Pain: Finding Relief Through Food

Ever thought about using food to tackle those pesky period symptoms? Your diet can be your secret weapon against period discomfort. Give these nutritional allies a try and see if they help make your periods smoother!

Omega-3: You've probably heard of it as the "good fat." It's like your period's best friend because it helps reduce inflammation. Research says that adding enough Omega-3 to your diet, either through food or supplements, can significantly ease period pain.

Eating salmon 2-3 times a week should get you enough Omega-3 to ease period pain. But if you're not a fan of fish, no worries! You can go for fish oil or krill oil supplements (if you eat animal products) or try walnuts or flaxseed oil if you're going the vegetarian route. 

Vitamin B1: This B vitamin is a period pain fighter too, and you can find it in nuts, fish, and legumes. Research suggests that a relatively high dose (100mg/day) can work similarly to Fish Oils in reducing period pain. Getting 100mg from food alone would be a challenge, but you can try increasing your intake of Vitamin B1 through your meals, especially from nuts (macadamia and pistachio) and fish (tuna and salmon). If you're already eating fish regularly, you're in for a double win with both Omega-3 and Vitamin B1.

A fish bowl with fresh salmon, fruit, and veggies

The Uglier Side to the Menstrual Cycle

Sad to say that for some, periods can make their life a misery if left untreated. Here’s a few common period-related health issues and conditions that can affect individuals with female reproductive anatomy.

Endometriosis: This condition occurs when tissue similar to the lining of the uterus (endometrium) grows outside the uterus. It can lead to severe menstrual pain, heavy periods, and in some cases, fertility problems.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): PCOS is a hormonal disorder that can cause irregular periods, heavy bleeding, and the development of small cysts on the ovaries. It may also lead to issues with fertility.

This is the absence of menstrual periods. Primary amenorrhea can occur if someone hasn’t started their period by the age of 16, while secondary amenorrhea is the absence of periods for more than 3-6 months in someone who previously had regular cycles. Various factors, including stress, hormonal imbalances, and certain medical conditions, can lead to amenorrhea.

Dysmenorrhea: This is a medical term for painful periods. It can be primary (common menstrual cramps) or secondary (caused by an underlying condition, like endometriosis). Dysmenorrhea can range from mild discomfort to severe pain.

Menorrhagia: This condition is characterised by heavy menstrual bleeding that lasts longer than seven days. It can lead to anaemia and may be caused by hormonal imbalances, fibroids, or other underlying medical issues.

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS):
PMS refers to a range of physical and emotional symptoms that occur in the days leading up to menstruation. These can include mood swings, bloating, breast tenderness, and fatigue.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD): PMDD is a more severe form of PMS, characterised by intense mood disturbances and physical symptoms. It can significantly affect a person's quality of life.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID): This is an infection of the female reproductive organs and can lead to irregular periods and chronic pelvic pain.

Fibroids: Uterine fibroids are non cancerous growths of the uterus that can lead to heavy periods, pain, and pressure in the pelvis.

It's important to note that these conditions can vary in severity and it’s always a good idea to get yourself evaluated and/or treated as soon as you can.

If you or someone you know is experiencing unusual or severe period-related symptoms, consult with a healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis and management.

Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS)

Now let's chat about Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS).
It's crucial to know the basics:

TSS is super rare, but it's something to be aware of during your period. It can happen when certain bacteria including Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes go a little wild.

To lower the risk, change your tampons regularly (every 4-8 hours is golden) and opt for the lowest absorbency needed. Consider pads or period undies too. And if you ever feel feverish, dizzy, or rashy during your period, seek help – better safe than sorry.

Periods: A Global Perspective

Period Products and the Environment

When it comes to choosing your period products, it's a good idea to think about their impact on the environment.
image of dirty waterways from litter

Don't Flush Them

Flushing sanitary products can cause problems in our water systems, so it's best to avoid it.

image of landfill showing environmental impact of disposable products

Proper Disposal

Pads and other disposable products should be placed in the bin. But keep in mind that they eventually end up in landfills
image of two menstrual cups

Consider Reusable Options

Cups, cloth pads and period undies are more eco-friendly solutions. They can be rinsed, washed, and worn again, making them kinder to the planet.
So, while you're taking care of yourself during your period, it's nice to know there are choices that also take care of our environment.

Beliefs and Traditions Surrounding Periods

Did you know that in some parts of the world, there are strict traditions and beliefs about what people can or can't do during their period?

For example:

  • In certain cultures, women must spend their entire period isolated in a hut away from their family and village.
  • In another country, they're not allowed to enter the kitchen or participate in worship during menstruation.

But here's the cool part! In some places, people celebrate periods with massive parties, inviting friends and family to join in the fun.

So, how would you like to remember your first period? It's fascinating to explore the different ways people view and treat periods worldwide.
It's all about perspective!

Access to Period Products: A Basic Human Right

Imagine not being able to afford period products.

It's a reality for many people around the world, even here in Australia. Those experiencing period poverty often resort to using uncomfortable substitutes like socks, toilet paper or newspaper. This situation can lead to missing school, affecting education and grades.

But here's the good news—access to period products should be a basic human right, and there are organisations working to ensure everyone has what they need to get through their period. Organisations like us! Let's support efforts to make periods manageable with comfort and dignity for all.