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21 Things You Never Knew About Your Period

Let's talk about that thing where you bleed from your vagina every month.

1. Here's what actually happens during your period:

2. But if you're taking hormonal birth control, you're basically getting a fake period.

3. It is totally fine and healthy to get no period at all while on birth control.

4. And skipping your period with birth control is fine, too.

5. Toxic shock syndrome is VERY rare — so it's fine to sleep with a tampon in.

Both experts swear this is extremely unlikely. Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a very rare but life-threatening complication that can happen as a result of a bacterial infection, and it was associated with the use of super-absorbant tampons in the past. When it was most prevalent in 1980, the rate was only 6 to 12 per 100,000 menstruating women (per the CDC). By 1986, that rate dropped to 1 in 100,000. And, obviously, tampons have changed even more in the last 30 years. That said, it can happen, so if you have a super-high fever, you're nauseous, and your skin is flaking off (the major symptoms), call your doctor ASAP, says Minkin.

But really, you shouldn't be too worried. It's safe to leave a tampon in overnight, says Minkin. Just always use the least absorbant tampon you can get away with, and don't forget about it. Seriously, both experts have had several patients come in with tampons that were left in and forgotten — and they were fine (though smelly).

6. Dark or brown period blood doesn't mean you're dying.

7. A missing period isn't always a sign of pregnancy...but it usually is.

8. The best way to beat period cramps is by taking an OTC pain reliever BEFORE they start.

9. PMS is seriously no joke, and it's all your hormones' fault.

10. Just because you get a period every month doesn't necessarily mean you're ovulating.

11. You can get a monthly period and still not be ~regular~.

12. Occasional irregularities aren't a big deal, but if your period is always unpredictable, it might be a problem for your future fertility.

13. Pretty much any medical condition can mess with your periods.

14. A little ~odor~ during or after your period is also normal, but there's no need for scented tampons.

15. Spotting between periods is usually no big deal.

16. Your period can start ~changing~ as early as your late thirties.

17. Getting your period while pregnant is kind of possible.

18. It's normal for your genitals to feel a little tender and sensitive around your period.

19. Passing little clots in your period is normal, too.

20. But if you're soaking through a pad or tampon more than every two hours, that might be an issue.

21. In general, the only reason you should see your doctor about your period is if it changes drastically.

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