When an adolescent starts having periods, her periods are often very unpredictable for the first six months to a year. At that point, most young women establish a pattern that they can recognize and therefore predict when their next period should arrive. Some may be as short as 21 days, others beyond 30, but what is important is recognizing what your pattern is. Consider the modern calendar -- a period tracker app -- for your phone to figure out your cycle.
Are terrible cramps okay? Well, no -- absolutely not! First of all, we have several medicines that might help, from ibuprofen and its cousins to using the contraceptive pill to help decrease the amount of cramping and blood loss.
Additionally, for women who have pain outside the range of normal, doctors begin to be concerned about endometriosis, a condition where extra tissue that belongs inside the uterus may have migrated outside of the uterus into the pelvis and be stuck on the intestines or fallopian tubes, causing pain especially at ovulation (mid-cycle).
Additionally, if it's PMS symptoms that drive you nuts (bloating, headaches, mood swings, and breast tenderness), there are simple behavioral modifications like quitting caffeine, increasing your calcium intake, and increasing aerobic exercise that will help.
Please do not suffer in silence! If you have terrible periods that make you miss school, work, or fun stuff. Make an appointment with your doctor.