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Anna has reached the age of puberty. Her mom Debby was expecting Anna’s first period to begin any time now. This has been bothering Debby for some time as she did not want Anna to face any embarrassment at school. Moreover, it could be painful for Anna and she wouldn’t know what to do. Debby has talked to Anna, and explained what needs to be done in such a situation.
If your girl is in this phase of her life, educate her on the topic. Support her and tell her what needs to be done if she gets her period at school. MomJunction helps you by sharing every possible detail.
Onset Of Puberty:
There is nothing to worry about when it comes to experiencing your first period. It is just a bit of blood flowing out of your womb. It is simply nature’s way of preparing your body for pregnancy. What you need to remember is that your body will go through changes now. When you enter puberty, the periods will begin, and you can become pregnant if you engage in sexual activity.
Once you get your first period, it will regularly start happening – once every month. Now, it usually lasts for about two to seven days, but this duration differs for every girl. Some have a shorter period whereas some experience a longer one. Also, for some young girls, they may experience their period regularly, and their schedule may be predictable whereas for some it may be a bit irregular. The flow of blood also differs. It may be heavy for some and very light for others. It is always a good idea to keep a record of the date on which you get your period, that way you should be able to predict accurately when you will experience it next month.
[ Read: Missed Periods In Teenagers ]
When Will I Get My First Period?
For starters, getting your first period is a sign that your body is going through a certain change as you ‘become a woman’. It is a perfectly normal change, and every girl has to face it as she grows up. This change prepares a girl for how to be a mother one day.
Usually, girls experience their first period between the ages of 12 and 14. But it’s different for every girl. Some girls get their first period at the age of eight whereas some could even get it at the age of 16 or 17. So, do not be worried if you experience it a little earlier than your friends, or if you’re a late bloomer. As a rule of thumb, you should get your first period two years after your breasts start developing.
It would be wise to find out the age at which your mother and grandmother got their first periods because it just may affect when you experience yours. This isn’t exactly a rule of thumb, so don’t get upset if your predictions don’t come true. Your weight can also affect how early or late you get your first period. Heavier girls experience their first period earlier than underweight girls. Just like weight, there are many other factors that can have a say in whether you will experience the “crimson wave” at age 12, or say, at a later stage, like when you reach the age of 16.
[ Read: Puberty In Girls ]
Symptoms Of Getting First Period:
There are various symptoms that can help you understand when your period is on its way. Some common ones are experiencing abdominal cramps, backaches, stomach pains and soreness in your breasts.
After getting your first period, you may notice that just before you get your next one, you suddenly develop wild cravings for unusual things and experience sudden mood swings. It is called PMS or premenstrual syndrome. Most women experience PMS just before the onset of their menstrual period. So, this is nothing to feel anxious about.
Some of the most common symptoms of getting your first period are as follows:
1. Growth Of Hair:
Hair growing on your body is a common sign that you’re entering the puberty stage, and it’s perfectly natural! You will start noticing thin hair around your pubic area (the area between your legs). This hair will slowly begin to grow thick, curly and coarse. You will also notice hair growing in your armpits. This hair may become dark and rough as well. About one or two years after your pubic hair start growing, you will get your first period.
2. Growth Of Breasts And Tenderness:
Another common sign of puberty is the gradual growth of your breasts. You will notice your breasts growing a bit large especially before you get your first period.
Your breast buds start developing, and your nipples become pointed. This occurs when your body starts developing milk glands, fat, and other tissue. Mostly, breasts take around four years to develop completely. Sometimes, one breast grows a bit faster than the other one. Such rare cases do occur, but they even out quickly enough and it won’t be noticeable to anyone but you. When breasts grow quickly, most girls start experiencing a little tenderness around the nipple area.
Girls usually get their first period one to three years after breast development. It is best to wear a camisole, sports bra or training bra during this stage. It will make you feel comfortable and support your chest area.
3. Discharge From Your Vagina:
It is perfectly natural to start experiencing a whitish, yellowish or slightly greenish discharge from your vaginal area before you get your first period. It is one of the most common signs of first period. It is your body’s way of moisturizing your vagina. Make a note of when you first notice this discharge.
You will generally experience your first period about six to twelve months after your vagina starts discharging that liquid. Sometimes, it could even take up to 18 months for this to happen.
Usually, the vaginal discharge becomes heavier just before you get your period. However, if you notice it becoming too heavy, your vagina starts itching uncontrollably, or the discharge stinks excessively, you should visit a doctor, who can give you certain vaginal creams that will help deal with the issue.
One of the best ways to deal with discharge from your vagina is to start wearing panty liners! These are small pad like strips that absorb tiny amounts of vaginal liquid and are easily disposable. This will make you feel a lot more comfortable when you experience discharge from your vagina.
What Happens On Your First Period (What Does A Girl Know & How To Prepare):
The best way to deal with the confusion and stress you feel when you think of experiencing your first period is to be prepared for it. Get proper information from your mother or an older female friend or relative as well as read up on it from a reputed online source. Don’t only rely on what other girls in your friend circle might be saying! You would be surprised at the number of myths that are circulated widely just because young girls don’t know any thing better.
1. Definition Of A Menstrual Period:
As soon as your body starts experiencing puberty, the brain starts sending certain signals to your body which make it start producing hormones. These hormones prepare the body for pregnancy. This event is called a ‘menstrual cycle’, and it takes place every month.
These hormones make the uterus lining thicker due to the growth of extra tissue and spreading of blood. Then, an egg is released by the ovary. This process is known as ‘ovulation’. The egg that is released starts moving down one of the two fallopian tubes and heads towards the uterus. Now, if this egg hasn’t been fertilized with the sperm of a man, there is no chance of pregnancy taking place. In such a case, the uterus lining promptly breaks, and blood starts flowing out through the vagina. This discharge, or flow of blood, from the vagina, is called period or menstruation.
2. Dealing With Amenorrhea:
What does amenorrhea mean? Well, it means not getting your period. Of course, for some young girls, their first menstrual cycle might not take place till they are 16. But if you don’t get your period by the time you hit the age of 15, it is prudent to consult a qualified and experienced gynecologist . Also, if your period starts and then suddenly stops, and does not occur again for more than three months, you could have a hormonal problem and require specialist treatment.
3. Tracking Your Menstrual Period Using A Calendar:
You should keep track of your menstrual cycle by marking the first day your period starts in a particular month and then, the first day your period begins the subsequent month.
Most cycles consist of 28 days, but there are many cases where the menstrual cycle is anywhere from 21 to 45 days. This will make it easier for you to accurately predict when your next period is going to be. Today, there are also many apps you can download on your cell to help you keep track!
4. Usage Of Correct Feminine Hygiene Products:
Once you experience your first period, you will have to start using personal care products like sanitary napkins, menstrual cups, and tampons regularly. Both sanitary napkins and tampons are made from a type of cotton material which makes them the most comfortable to use.
Pads are most commonly used, and they help to absorb the flow of blood from your vagina so that it doesn’t stain your underwear and pants. There are a lot of different pads that are available in the market. They differ in size, style, and thickness. Some come with ‘wings’, or little flaps with sticky sides, which enable you to stick it to the underwear so that it stays in place for extra comfort. Pads should be changed every four to eight hours or when you feel like the pad has become too full and cannot absorb any more blood or as soon as you experience any discomfort.
Menstrual cups and tampons gather the flow of blood from within your vagina. Tampons also come in a variety of sizes and styles. Opt for a ‘super tampon’ if you experience heavy flow and a ‘junior or slim tampon’ for very light flow. You should also change your tampon every four to eight hours to ensure that you do not get toxic shock syndrome (TSS) . TSS is rare, and you will find very few cases occurring these days. But if you choose to use tampons, then you should be aware of the ill effects of keeping tampons inside your vagina for too long.
You can also avail of menstrual cups which are made out of rubber or plastic. These are put inside the vagina to catch the flow of blood. They have to be removed every eight to 12 hours.
Signs Of Toxic Shock Syndrome:
Toxic shock syndrome occurs due to bacteria producing toxins. Usually, your body is equipped to fight these toxins, but sometimes it just cannot. If this happens, your body develops the signs of toxic shock syndrome or TSS.
Usually, girls and women who use tampons develop TSS. To avoid getting this syndrome:
- Use tampons as directed on the package
- Change your tampon every 4 to 8 hours
- Use tampons and sanitary pads alternatively
- Use the right absorbency level based on the flow
- Never use a tampon if you are not menstruating
- Signs of toxic shock syndrome are as follows:
- You develop high-grade fever all of a sudden
- You experience muscle aches
- You start feeling dizzy
- You develop a sore throat
- Bloodshot eye
- You get a rash that is similar to a sunburn
- You get disoriented
If you get these signs, remove the tampon immediately and seek medical intervention.
5. How To Deal With Period Pain and Cramps:
It is very common for girls to experience a sudden pain in the back or lower abdominal area. Many also feel certain tenderness in the breasts during the menstrual cycle. Getting headaches and experiencing sudden dizzy spells are also other ill effects of the menstrual cycle.
To deal with painful cramps you should do the following:
- You could try using a heat wrap or a heated pad on your lower back or abdominal area to ease the pain.
- Take a general painkiller like Ibuprofen, Crocin, Midol, Aspirin or even Naproxen Sodium (only if you are not suffering from asthma or any allergies to aspirin).
- Try some exercises specifically meant for dealing with abdominal cramps during your period.
6. Amount Of Blood Loss:
The amount of blood during your first menstruation period may seem like a lot. But in reality, it isn’t all that much. On an average, girls usually lose about 40 cc or three tablespoons of blood during their first menstrual period . So, don’t freak out!
7. Dealing With Heavy Or Excessive Blood Flow:
As mentioned earlier, it always looks like you are losing more blood than you are. But if you notice that you have to keep changing your pad every one to two hours, this could mean trouble. Also, your period continuing for over seven days could be another bad sign. If at any time during your period, you feel excessively dizzy, extremely lightheaded, or you notice your pulse racing irregularly, visit a medical professional right away!
8. Irregular Period:
For a lot of young girls, their period may not take place exactly as per calculations. There should be a gap of 21 to 35 days between every period. Also, if you notice that your period used to occur regularly and all of a sudden it became irregular for several months, see a doctor.
[ Read: Irregular Periods In Teens ]
9. Only You Will Know You Have Your Period:
A lot of girls worry about whether there are outward signs that manifest when you experience your period. No, there is nothing like that. So, you can remain at ease. The only way someone can tell if you’ve got your period is if they see your pant or skirt stained with blood. So, make sure you always keep a sanitary pad or tampon on hand to deal with the sudden occurrence of your period!
10. Being Physically Active During Menstrual Period:
You can participate in sporting activities and exercises if you don’t experience too much pain and discomfort. Also, make sure you wear a proper pad to prevent leakage. However, many girls don’t feel too comfortable to take part in any strenuous physical activity on the first two days of their menstrual cycle.
[ Read: Breast Development During Puberty ]
How Long Does Your First Period Last?
In most cases, the period will last for about five to seven days. However, when you first get your period, it most probably won’t be regular. Your period could last for as little as one day or as much as 10 days.
A couple of months after you experience your first period, you might notice that your menstrual cycle becomes irregular- just starting all of a sudden and stopping just as quickly. This is normal enough for girls who have only just started to experience their periods. Until your body gets used to its menstrual cycle, this could be a frequent occurrence and you may find that you are not able to predict it accurately.
But after the first couple of months, if you notice that your period is extremely unpredictable and does not follow any pattern, you need to see your doctor. Generally, wait for about 21 to 35 days for your next period to occur.
How To Get Your First Period Faster?
If, for some reason, you would like your period to come faster, there are certain ways to try to hasten its occurrence. Some of them are as follows:
1. Household Herbs:
Certain household herbs like parsley and ginger are said to help make your period occur faster. This is because such herbs cause the uterus to become a bit wider and this hastens your period. These herbs are also good for balancing out any imbalances caused due to hormones. Add a little ginger or parsley to your tea and drink it every morning and night till you get your period.
2. Pineapples And Mangoes:
These fruits also help speed up the process and the best part is that they can be added to different types of diets easily enough. Both contain bromelain that softens the uterus lining, helping your body to shed it and induce your period.
3. Vitamin C Supplements:
This is useful because it helps in the elimination of progesterone which in turn causes your period to occur faster. Make sure you do not consume too much Vitamin C though as it can be injurious to health. If you consume too much, it could lead to kidney stones or diarrhea.Ensure that you drink lots of water while taking Vitamin C.
[ Read: Ways To Handle Early Puberty ]
4. Birth Control Pills:
Most women take contraceptive pills to prevent pregnancy, but these pills can also alter hormones and ensure that women experience lighter period. These can only be taken by women below the age of 35. Make sure that you run it by your regular doctor before taking any pill!
5. Abdominal And Aerobic Exercise:
Exercises for the abdomen are designed to contract muscles and this can help your period to occur faster. Aerobic exercises are good for people who want to lose weight.
6. Hot Baths:
Indulging in a nice hot bath has been proven to reduce stress. It also helps in increasing the temperature of the body which can help you to get your period faster.
7. Reduce Your Stress Levels:
Too much stress can wreak havoc with your menstrual cycle. Try doing soothing things like listening to classical music or meditating. Make sure you schedule short vacations or massages now and then to alleviate stress. Spend time with people who comfort you and make you feel at peace with the world and with yourself.
8. Lose A Little Weight:
Overweight people often tend to have problems with their menstrual cycles. It is best to exercise thrice a week for around thirty minutes each session. Try your best to eat balanced meals with a little of everything.
9. Add Fruits To Your Diet:
Start eating fruits like papaya, kiwi, pineapple and oranges. You can also drink a little warm water with honey every day to induce your period. Just make sure that you’re not allergic to honey.
[ Read: Physical Changes In Girls During Puberty ]
When you first get your period, take note of the date, how heavy or light the flow was and the length of your period. This will help you to analyze the pattern so you will know approximately when to expect the next one. Ensure that you always have a pad in your handbag and that you carry a spare pad or tampon to school/college. It’s also always best to wear dark pants or tights somewhere around the time you expect your period to occur. That way, you won’t have to deal with embarrassing leaks!
You need to give your body the attention it needs and make note of what is healthy and perfectly normal for you. Also, once you get used to getting your period every month, it will become easier to deal with and if you’re in need of some comfort, you can always indulge in a little chocolate!
When did you get your first period? What symptoms did you experience? Did your mother speak to you about it and prepare you to welcome womanhood? We want to hear your experiences. So feel free to comment below.