For information about contraception, pregnancy options and sexual health in Victoria

What is Menstruation (period)?

Photo of calendar and person's hand holding a menstrual pad

The menstrual cycle 

The ‘menstrual cycle’, ‘menstruation’, ‘menses’, or ‘period’ is a bodily change that is controlled by hormones and causes a vaginal bleed every month.  The bleeding comes from the uterus when there is no pregnancy. Around the middle of the menstrual cycle (eg day 14 of a 28 day cycle) an egg is released from one of the ovaries.  If the egg doesn’t meet with sperm, it will not be fertilized to result in pregnancy.  A couple of weeks later your period will start again. 

The menstrual cycle varies for everyone.

When you have your period, you may experience side effects.

Menstrual problems

Many women and people who menstruate experience regular, manageable periods, with few physical or psychological issues. Menstrual problems, however, are still very common and can significantly affect people's lives. Around 1 in 5 women get severe pain that needs to be assessed. This may be because of a gynaecological condition that needs treatment. 
Menstrual problems can include: