Getting your first period can be really exciting - and also a little scary. Not to worry, though. I’ve been there, done that, and have some information that will help your first period experience flow smoothly. Girls usually get their first period anywhere between age 11 and 15, but for some it does happen a few years earlier or later. This is normal - your body is just as unique as you are and it knows when the time is right. Knowing the answer to some common questions that girls have when they first start menstruating (which is another way of saying “having your period”) can make you feel less nervous about the changes your body is going through.
What is a period?
Basically, your period happens when your ovaries release an egg that doesn’t get fertilized (sperm is what turns an egg into an embryo, which eventually becomes a baby). Once you start menstruating, you release an egg each month. When that egg doesn’t become fertilized, it dissolves into the lining of your uterus. The lining then sheds. That’s what the blood is that comes from your vagina when you have your period.
How much am I supposed to bleed?
Everyone is different. Some people have heavy periods, while some only bleed a little. The average woman only releases about 2-3 tablespoons of blood every period. Sometimes, your period may be heavier at first and get lighter towards the end. If you have a heavy flow that soaks through your pad every hour for several hours, you should see a doctor.
How often will I get my period?
This depends. The average person gets their period every 28 days. But, ironically, most women don’t have “average” periods. You could start your period every 21 days or every 35 days, depending on your body. Remember, though, that during the first 2 years you have your period, it may be irregular. This is completely normal!
How long will my period last?
Periods can last anywhere from 3 to 7 days. If it lasts longer than a week, you should talk to your doctor just to make sure everything is ok.
Can I still play sports and swim when I’m on my period?
Of course! Your period doesn’t have to stop you from doing any of your regular activities. Just don’t wear a pad to go swimming - it absorbs water and will swell up. Menstrual cups are the perfect option for this!
Does having a period hurt?
While bleeding doesn’t hurt, you may find that you have cramps or a headache a few days before your period. This is called PMS or premenstrual syndrome, something that most women experience. Do some yoga, use a heating pad, or exercise to help relieve cramps.
Will other people know I’m on my period?
Nope! A common concern is that everyone will know you’re bleeding, but this just isn’t true. Period blood has no odor and, despite how it feels, other people can’t tell if you are wearing a pad. Having a period isn’t bad, though, and you should feel free to talk about it with whoever you want.
What if I bleed through my pants?
This happens sometimes. Don’t freak out! Just laugh it off and get to the bathroom as soon as you can to clean up. Keeping an extra pair of pants in your locker might not be a bad idea, as you learn how to manage your period.
Which products should I use on my period?
This is really up to you! Different people choose different things, depending on what they’re comfortable with. Menstrual cups are a great choice - they help you keep your body safe from toxic chemicals and are good for the environment. Other options are reusable or disposable pads and organic tampons. It can take practice getting comfortable with using any of these but after a few months, you’ll be a pro!