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How to Know You Are Getting Your Period

Having your period is nuisance enough without the added stress of a surprise visit. While there's no scientific method of determining exactly when your period will come, these methods below will help you estimate your menstrual cycle length and help you be prepared for the next one. Carrying pads or tampons around in your purse at all times is a simple but effective strategy to never be caught off-guard.

Part One of Two:
Keeping Track of Your Period

  1. 1
    Know what's normal. The menstrual flow itself can last anywhere from two days to a week, with the average being four days.[1] Spotting that occurs before your period generally does not count as part of the menstrual flow; only actual bleeding counts.
    • It's normal for women in their teens and 20s to have slightly longer cycles, for women in their 30s to have shorter cycles, and for women in their mid-40s to 50s to have shorter cycles still.[2] If yours varies wildly from month to month and you've had your period for longer than two or three years, it would be a good idea to see a doctor to make sure that you're not suffering from hormonal imbalances.
  2. 2
    Count the days. Count up the number of days between the first day of your period and the first day of the subsequent period. That number is your cycle length. For most women, it's 28 days, but a normal cycle can range from 25 to 35 days.[3]
  3. 3
    Keep a record. Note the first and last days of your period on a calendar. This way, you can estimate when your next period might come.[4] Most women's periods come every 28 days, but if you keep track of your periods, you can determine what length your own cycle is.
  4. 4
    Use an app. Consider using an online application like MyMonthlyCycles, MyMenstrualCalendar, or an app on your phone like Period Tracker. This kind of technology is great for helping your keep track of your period from the ease of your mobile phone.
  5. 5
    Use an online calendar/planning tool. Set up a Google calendar event and send yourself a reminder around the time your next period is scheduled. That way, you can write it down in the calendar when your period actually comes and compare the two dates. This will help you learn your body's normal cycle variances, as well as reminding you to be on the lookout for your period when it is scheduled to come.

Part Two of Two:
Knowing Your Body

  1. 1
    Know the symptoms. Learn what symptoms are normal for women to experience during and just before their periods start. The following symptoms are experienced by many women during their menstrual cycle:[5]
    • Irritability
    • Mood swings
    • Minor headaches
    • Stomach aches
    • Cramping in stomach, legs, or back
    • Changes in appetite
    • Cravings for particular tastes or foods
    • Acne outbreaks
    • Tender breasts
    • Feeling tired or sleepy
    • Back or shoulder pains
  2. 2
    Record your own symptoms. Every woman's cycle is unique. Record the symptoms you experience before and during each period to help you predict an upcoming period. Recognize the warning symptoms that frequently precede your period. Write down the symptom(s) you experience and their severity on each day.
  3. 3
    Talk to your doctor about any irregularities in your menstrual cycle. Irregular periods can be a symptom of many conditions that need medical attention. Some of the most common medical problems that cause irregular periods include:
    • Pelvic organ problems like imperforate hymen or polycystic ovary syndrome[6]
    • Irritable bowel syndrome
    • Liver disease
    • Diabetes
    • Eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia
    • Obesity
    • Tuberculosis
  4. 4
    Take steps to regulate your period. If your period is irregular, you should see your doctor. Make sure you find a doctor you are comfortable talking to, as this can feel like a sensitive subject for some. Sometimes, there may be an underlying health issue causing irregularity; other times, irregular periods can be regulated with lifestyle changes such as weight loss or changing your type of birth control. [7]

Community Q&A

Add New Question
  • Is it normal to WANT my period?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Sure. It means you've become a woman, and it's natural to want that process underway. Plus it can be frustrating to know that it's coming but to not know when. Try not to worry too much, just keep supplies on hand. It will come.
    Thanks! 53 0
  • Does clear/white fluid in my underwear mean I'm about to start my period?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • It can mean it's getting close to that time. But that fluid can appear up to a year before your first period.
    Thanks! 63 3
  • Does my period come when I need to pee?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Your period can come whenever -- not necessarily just when you have to pee. However, you may see some blood when you pee.
    Thanks! 48 2
  • Is it normal to get your period at 11 or 12 years old?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Yes, it is normal to start your period anywhere between age 10-16.
    Thanks! 58 4
  • What do I do for cramps at night?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Try using a hot water bottle or heating pad, this should relive the pain. Also, drinking enough water during the day will help.
    Thanks! 44 3
  • There is blood on my tissue, but not in my pee. Does this have anything to do with my period?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Yes, it could be the beginning of your period. If you start bleeding more heavily, then that's a sure sign that you've gotten your period.
    Thanks! 49 4
  • Should I start using tampons even though I'm eleven? I have a pretty heavy flow.
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • If you are comfortable using tampons, yes, but if you are hesitant at all, then no.
    Thanks! 39 3
  • I have white slime in my pants. What do I do?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • It's probably just discharge, which is normal. It'll come out in the wash. You can wear panty liners to keep your undies clean.
    Thanks! 39 3
  • Can I sleep with a pad?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Yes, and if your flow is heavy, it's a good idea to put a towel under you in case of leakage.
    Thanks! 28 2
  • What if I never tell my parents?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • They will figure it out on their own, and they will probably be hurt that you didn't tell them. It's best to just get the conversation over with. You will likely need someone to buy you feminine hygiene products anyway.
    Thanks! 39 5
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  • Can your first period be red like your normal period? Can it be enough to go across the whole width of your pantyliner?
  • Why does your you know feel weird
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  • If your period happens to catch you by surprise, place some folded-up toilet paper in your underwear or ask another person for any extra pads or tampons.
    12 Helpful?  0
  • Keep a few pads/tampons/other chosen supplies in your room, purse, or backpack—any place you can easily get to—in case of a surprise.
    10 Helpful?  2
  • Once you get your first period, ask your mother, older sister, or grandmother, or any other woman in your life for advice. Don't feel ashamed!
    6 Helpful?  2
  • Don't freak out. Know it is just a fact of life and don't act any different. However, if you have mood swings, try to stay positive and laugh.
    5 Helpful?  4
  • It's also perfectly fine to ask any trusted adult that you know man or woman. You can tell your mom, dad, uncle, aunt, grandparent, nanny, etc. What matters is that you let your family members know you're starting.
    5 Helpful?  3
  • You can make a DIY heating bag by heating up rice and putting it in a hollowed out stuffed animal.
    6 Helpful?  1
  • If your period takes you by surprise and one of your friends already has their period you could make up a code so you can help each other out.
    8 Helpful?  1

Example: (code red or red dot).

  • If theres people around and your scared of telling your mother, father or guardian if your period is back. Come up with a code with them for example: Say "Japan is attacking" as the flag of Japan is white and has a red dot on it.
    2 Helpful?  0


  • If you have a severe stomach ache that spreads from your belly-button to your left side, contact a doctor right away. This is not regular period cramps, and is a sign of appendicitis.
    29 Helpful?  4
  • If you don't notice a consistent pattern in your menstrual cycle after recording it for several months, consider seeing a doctor to make sure you don't have any hormonal imbalances.
    27 Helpful?  6

About This Article

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    Ellie Comet

    Aug 1, 2016

    "The fact of hearing the system list helped me, I haven't had my first period yet, but one thing I still need to know is that is I normal to have a period with no spotting? Oh, and I have another, is it normal to have all of the symptoms of PMS about 2-3 weeks before?"..." more
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    Oct 17, 2016

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    Mar 9, 2017

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    Aug 6, 2017

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    Jenna Plank

    Jun 17, 2016

    "What helped me are the tips. They told me how to be prepared for the big day! So now I know what to do when the big day comes!"..." more
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    Nikki Stephens

    Feb 13, 2017

    "It really helped, because I wasn't sure if I'm about to start or not, but now I know I'm probably going to start soon."..." more
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    Deborah Moyinoluwa

    Jun 26, 2017

    "It so much helped me, now I know I am about to start because I have the symptoms except cramps."
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    Mady Dreher

    Jun 6, 2016

    "The article helped because at first I was scared to start my period but now I'm ready. "
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    Brandy Williams

    Dec 4, 2016

    "The part where it tells you when you know your about to start your period helped me. "
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    Mara Maureen

    Aug 3, 2016

    "The symptoms of having a period help a lot to me, since my body has a lot of changes."
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    May 18, 2016

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    "wikiHow really helped me a lot on this topic. Thank you very much."
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    Jun 26, 2017

    "Lately I've been feeling pain in those exact areas. This helped. "
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    Apr 4, 2016

    "I just love the pictures and how the steps are each individual."
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    Feb 26, 2017

    "The info all about periods was helpful."
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    "The second part, step two is great!"
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    "Full-out details for beginners."
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    Jan 16, 2017

    "This really helped me a lot."
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