Period is a normal bodily function but it is surrounded by so many myths and misinformation. It is a taboo topic in our country. Even after getting their periods, many girls are unaware about the process. In several parts of India, rituals are followed during periods and girls have to adhere to certain rules during those five to seven days. It is important for girls as well as boys to understand what menstruation is. Sometimes, even though you understand the menstruation process, you have so many questions and do not know whom to ask. Here are the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about periods. (ALSO READ Everything you wanted to know about periods).

What is a period?

Period or menstruation is a process that occurs in women once a month. Controlled by hormones, estrogen and progesterone, the body prepares for a possible pregnancy. The ovaries produce eggs and every month, one of your ovaries release an egg. This is known as ovulation. The lining of your uterus thickens to receive the egg for a possible pregnancy. When the egg is not fertilized, your body sheds the tissue lining of the uterus, which is no longer needed. The tissue, egg and mucus come out of the vagina and it is called menstruation or menstrual bleeding, which usually lasts from two to seven days.

How much blood is lost during menstruation and how much is too much?

Around a quarter cup of blood is lost during the entire duration of the period. Bleeding is more in the first few days. You do not have to worry about the loss of blood as your body quickly replenishes it. Bleeding is different in different women, so it is difficult to say how much is too much. You can say your bleeding is heavy if you need to change the pad or tampon every hour. Consult your doctor immediately if you think you are having heavy bleeding. (ALSO READ Why breasts sore before period: Here’s everything you should know about premenstrual breast swelling).

What is PMS?

PMS is premenstrual syndrome and it includes several emotional and physical disturbance experienced by women during their periods. It is also called premenstrual tension (PMT) and can happen to girls and women of any age. The symptoms of PMS include bloating, sore nipples, irritability, anxiety, fatigue, stomach cramps and moodiness.

Does the period blood have a smell?

Usually, menstrual blood has the normal metallic odor of the blood. If you are using a tampon then there will not be any odor as the blood gets absorbed inside your vagina. In case you are using a pad, the blood will come in contact with the air and there will be a slight smell of the blood. Change your tampons and pads frequently to avoid the smell and to stay clean and healthy. (ALSO READ Pimples during periods: Here’s how to prevent pimples during menstrual cycle).

Do you have to skip exercise during periods?

No, you do not have to skip exercise due to periods. In fact, working out will ease menstrual pain and will keep you healthy. Make sure you wear a new tampon or pad before and after working out.