Hesperian Health Guides

Monthly bleeding (period, menstruation)

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HealthWiki > A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities > Chapter 4: Understanding your body > Monthly bleeding (period, menstruation)

Almost all girls and women with disabilities will have the same monthly bleeding cycle as women who are not disabled. Monthly bleeding is a sign that you can become pregnant. No girl can know exactly when she will get her first monthly bleeding. It usually happens after your breasts and the hair on your body start to grow. Also, several months before your first monthly bleeding, you may notice some wetness coming from your vagina. It may stain your underclothes. This is normal.

You may feel stomach cramps, get a headache, pain in your lower back or breasts, or feel mood changes just before your monthly bleeding starts. For example, you may feel overly sensitive or easily lose your temper.

If you are blind or have difficulty seeing, or if you have difficulty moving your arms or legs, ask your family or friends you trust to help you manage your monthly bleeding. See how to help a girl or woman who has difficulty understanding or learning about monthly bleeding. See how to care for yourself during monthly bleeding and also information on sexual health and monthly bleeding.

As a woman grows older, her monthly bleeding will end. For most women, this change happens when they are between 45 and 55 years old. See “When monthly bleeding stops.”

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Around the world, women have many
different names for their monthly bleeding.
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The monthly cycle (menstrual cycle)
The monthly bleeding cycle is different for each woman. For most women, the whole menstrual cycle takes about 28 days—just like the cycle of the moon. But some women bleed as often as every 20 days, or as little as every 45 days. During the first year you get your monthly bleeding, it will probably come at a different time each month. This is normal. It will take several months for you to start having a regular cycle.