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Encouraging open and honest talk about periods

Glossary

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P R S T U V W X Y Z

Feeling a bit confused with all the lingo? Don't worry! We've got you covered - from pads to dysmenorrhoea (a fancy word for period pain), you can find out every period-related definition right here.

B

Bloating - A common side effect of PMS, bloating can cause your tummy to feel a bit tender and swollen. This usually happens when you're on your period, and experts reckon exercise can help reduce the bloating.

C

Cramps - Oh cramps! Cramps are thought to be caused by your uterus contracting before or when on your period and are another common side effect of pre-menstrual syndrome. Annoying, right? A hot water bottle and asking an adult for some painkillers can help ease them.

D

Discharge - Vaginal discharge is a natural mucus that is produced from your cervix. Formed from normal bacteria and fluids, it’s your vagina’s way of keeping itself clean (if only bedrooms did that!). You normally start producing discharge about six months to a year before your first period. If you want to, you can wear a panty liner to absorb everything. Or not. It’s up to you!

Dysmenorrhoea - Dysmenorrhoea, if you want to be fancy about it, is just another word for period pain. You could whip it out when trying to impress your teachers, hey?

E

Egg - An egg cell (also known as ovum) is one of the largest cells in the human body and can just be seen without using a microscope. It's the female reproductive cell.

F

Fallopian tube - The egg cell travels down the fallopian tube from the ovaries towards the uterus during ovulation.

Fertilisation - Fertilisation is the moment when a sperm and egg join together, and the genes from the mother and father combine to form a new life. 

M

Menstrual cycle - The menstrual cycle is the monthly series of changes a woman's body goes through in preparation for the possibility of pregnancy. Each month, one of the ovaries releases an egg — a process called ovulation. At the same time, hormonal changes prepare the uterus for pregnancy. A woman's average cycle is around 28 days.

Menstrual fluid - Otherwise known as your period, menstrual fluid is made up of a mix of uterus lining and blood.

O

Ovary - An ovary is a female reproductive organ. Women normally have two ovaries, which are used to store their eggs cells.

Ovulation - Ovulation is when an egg is released from the ovaries and makes its way down the fallopian tube. If this egg is fertilised, it will make itself at home in the thickened lining of the uterus and a woman will become pregnant. If it doesn’t embed itself, the lining breaks down and you get your period.

P

Pad - Pads (also known as sanitary towels) are made of absorbent material that you stick, via an adhesive strip, to the inside of your underwear. They are used to absorb menstrual fluid/blood. Some have extra material on the sides called ‘wings’ that you can fold over the edge of your knickers to make sure your pad doesn’t slip around while you’re busy being fabulous all day.

Pantyliner - Pantyliners are like a smaller version of a pad – they look exactly the same but don’t usually have wings and are a lot thinner. You can barely feel them in your knickers at all! Some girls use them for when their period is really light towards the end, or to prevent discharge stains on to their knickers (vaginal discharge totally comes out in the washing machine though, so don’t worry if you don’t fancy having a permanent pad stuck to your knickers).

Period cravings - Cravings can be one of the symptoms of PMS, and are due to changing hormone levels. This can happen from two weeks before the period (known as the luteal phase) to the time when the period really gets underway (which could take a few days from when it first starts). Calorie requirements increase for many girls during this time of the month, and so there is an increase in hunger - hence the need for that second chocolate bar!

Pre-menstrual Syndrome (PMS) - Or otherwise known as Premenstrual Tension (PMT) or the monthly blues. Physically, PMS might make you feel a little bloated, tired or achey. Some people have headaches or backache and some get a few cramps before their period actually arrives. You might find your skin gets a little spotty too. Emotionally, you might find yourself feeling more irritable, anxious or weepy. It generally affects three in four women but don’t fear - exercise and a healthy diet will help ease PMS. Chat to your doctor or someone else who could help you, such as a teacher, parent, carer or friend, if you’re worried.

Pubic hair - Pubic hair is body hair which grows when you hit puberty (hence the name!) and is usually located on and around your private parts. It's totally normal, so don't worry!

T

Tampon - Tampons are also made of absorbent material, but compressed into a small cylindrical shape and inserted into your vagina. Some tampons have applicators, which help guide the tampon into place, whereas others you can insert with your finger (just make sure you’ve washed your hands first!). They are used to absorb menstrual fluid/blood. Tampons may take a bit of practice to get right, but when they’re inserted correctly you shouldn’t be able to feel them at all (like, AT ALL). But remember, never leave a tampon in longer than 6-8 hours!

U

Uterus - The muscular organ in females where babies grow. Contains the uterus lining which is shed once a month if an egg is left unfertilised - hello period!