Your first period is probably something you’ll remember forever as it’s a pretty significant life moment. Whilst periods can have a bad rep, often leaving those of us who get them feeling as though it’s a very negative experience, it’s one of the most natural things that can happen to a person.
No matter what you’ve heard, there’s really no reason to fear getting your first period. Once you’re prepared and know what to expect it’s relatively easy to deal with! Practice makes perfect, and considering you’ll be getting one period a month for an average of 40 years, you’ll soon be a pro!
What Is A "Period"?
“Menstruation, or period, is normal vaginal bleeding that occurs as part of a [person’s] monthly cycle. Every month, your body prepares for pregnancy. If no pregnancy occurs, the uterus, or womb, sheds its lining. The menstrual blood is partly blood and partly tissue from inside the uterus. It passes out of the body through the vagina.” (Medline Plus).
Your period works on a cycle, meaning it will appear, on average, every 28 days. Some people experience longer or shorter cycles. You won’t get a good idea of your cycle until you’ve had a few periods (some times it can take a few years to regulate), so don’t bog yourself down too much on this aspect.
When To Expect Your First Period
There’s no certain date you can expect your first period to come on (although that would be very helpful). As your periods become more regular, you’ll probably be able to suss out when to expect it, and when it will finish up, but that’s not set in stone.
You can usually expect your period to occur somewhere between 10 and 15 years old. There’s no perfect age to get your period at so don’t worry if you’re early or late to the game compared to your friends or family members. I myself was 11 when I got my first period, but most of my friends were 14 or 15 by the time theirs came along. If you are an “early bloomer”, as they say, you can be a fountain of knowledge to your friends and share your wisdom! Because (and I can’t emphasise this enough) it’s normal and healthy to talk about periods!
Signs Your Period Is On The Way
So you’re somewhere in between the average age for getting your first period, what is it you’re looking out for? PMS (premenstrual syndrome) is the buzz word when it comes to menstruation. This is a collective term for the symptoms we can experience on the build up to your period.
These symptoms include:
- Bloating (especially in your tummy)
- Sore breasts
- Back pain
- Feeling irritable
- Feeling unusually tired
- Cravings (you will want junk food and you’re well within your rights to consume copious amounts during your period!)
- Vaginal discharge
Vaginal discharge is completely normal. It’s a clear fluid that carries bacteria out of the body. It helps keep your vagina clear and infection free! If you notice any discolouration in your vaginal discharge, consult a medical professional.
What Do I Need To Prepare For My Period?
Everyone’s period is different. Some breeze by without giving it much thought, others can get really bad pains or heavy bleeding. There’s no real way to prepare for the new experience of your period, but it might be wise to carry a period pack with you.
Pop some essentials in a makeup bag and keep it in your handbag and/or school bag when you’re out and about. There are a lot of options when it comes to period products, but it’s best to stick to the basics first time round.
Period Pack Essentials Include:
- A pad or tampon (I’d recommend a pad for your first few periods, they’re easier to get the hang of at first).
- A spare knickers in case of accidents.
- Feminine hygiene wipes.
- Pain relief such as Paracetemol or Neurofen.
How Long Will My Period Last?
Periods last an average of 5 days, but some experience 3 day periods, whilst others have their period for 8 days. The heaviest bleeding occurs in the first 2 days.
Your first period isn’t a great measure of how long or short your average period will be so give your body some time to iron out the details.
I Just Got My First Period, What Now?
You’ve nipped to the loo, pulled down your knickers and there it is, staring back at you, your period. First things first, there’s no need to panic. You’ve prepared for this. You know exactly what a period is, and that it happens in a lot of people so there’s no need to worry. Grab your period pack, apply your pad or tampon and go about your business. Take some pain relief if needed. Most importantly, talk about it! Tell your parents, siblings, friends – those you’re comfortable with.
Periods need to be talked about and normalised. Getting your period is nothing to be ashamed of. Those of us who get periods have been made to feel ashamed for generations, but now times are changing and periods are seen as empowering so please don’t feel as though you now have a big secret to carry round.