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How can I tell when my period will start?

Periods are crafty! Sometimes you can't tell you are about to start your period but, most of the time, before I start mine I get super tired for a day or two, a bit more weepy, and my boobs get sore. When that happens, even though my periods are otherwise completely unpredictable, I know it's on its way and get prepared. If you don't get any messages from your body that you are about to start, I suggest being ready with a pad or tampon at all times. Some girls like to wear a thin panty liner when their periods are unpredictable to avoid messy stains in their underwear, so you might want to give that a try.
It's kind of difficult when it's your first time. Even after nearly 30 years of "monthly visits," I'm still sometimes surprised. If you are getting to that age, keep something close by - in your backpack, purse or locker. Chances are likely that you won't have a gushing of menstrual blood, but a light bit of spotting. There are products available that take up little space, compared to the clunky pads I used to have to carry around.
I'm on the birth control pill, so honestly, I'm never surprised by my period. But for people who aren't on the pill, the best way to avoid being shocked by a visit from Aunt Flo is to keep written track of your cycles. If you want, you can buy a special calendar or just use one you already have. Make a little dot or other symbol on the calendar for each day of your period. You could also track your cycle for free online with sites like mymonthlycycles.com or with iPhone apps like PMS Buddy. After tracking your cycles for a few months, you should get a pretty good idea of how long your cycles are, and how many days are in between them. You'll have a better idea of when you're due and won't be surprised.

I can also usually tell if my period is coming because I get light cramping. If you've tried tracking your cycles, but if they're just too irregular to predict, consider talking to your healthcare professional. Also, I always, always keep a tampon or pad in my purse just in case (also comes in handy for friends' emergencies!).

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This is not intended to be medical advice. Everybody is different so please make sure to consult your physician if you're having issues. Do not delay or refrain from seeking professional medical advice from your physician because of something you have read on this site.