Don't be fooled, girls. Menstruation is just a fancy word for getting your period. It’s important to call a period just that – a period. “Aunt Flow” isn’t “visiting.” The “red river” isn’t “running.” There is no crime scene to be found. It’s a period, not a joke. Periods might be uncomfortable to talk about initially (hence the jokes), but they’re nothing to be ashamed of.
Your first period is called menarche and may come when you are as young as 9 years or older than 16 years. The average age is 13.
Periods don't come monthly - they come in cycles and these are counted from the date of one period until the date of your next period. Don't expect your periods to be 'regular' either! The average menstrual cycle lasts around 28 to 30 days, but it can range from around 21 to 35 days. Within each cycle, the period will last for a few days at a time, but its length will vary from person to person. Remember, every period is different, and that’s totally okay. When someone gets their period, it’s one sign that their reproductive system is functioning properly.
In the first few years that you have periods, expect them to be irregular. This is normal! When you come to menopause (the end of your periods) they will be irregular again for a few years.
You might have mixed feelings about getting your period, but it's important to remember that you will start your period when your body is ready. There is no way to make your period come sooner or stop it from happening.
WHAT TO EXPECT WITH MY FIRST PERIOD
Every girl’s first period is unique. Some girls may only have a brown mucous 'discharge' for a day or two, while others unfortunately bleed heavily - sometimes for as long as 10 days! Ask your mom or a trusted female adult what their first period was like. This may make it less scary for you.
WHY DO PERIODS EVEN HAPPEN?
Many girls are confused about their periods - but don't stress - that's why we're here for you!
It all has to do with making (or not making) a baby. You were born with thousands of tiny ova (eggs) inside each ovary (you have 2 ovaries - one on each side of the womb). When puberty starts, your brain sends a message to one of these little eggs to 'wake-up'!
The little egg wakes up and it starts to make a hormone called oestrogen. Oestrogen goes into your blood and gives a message to your breasts, womb and vagina to 'get ready for the egg'! When everything is ready (this takes about 14 days) the egg is released into the fallopian tube, and this is called ovulation.
That egg waits in the fallopian tube for a sperm. It can't survive for very long - in fact, only for 24 hours - and if there is no sperm to fertilise the egg then it simply dies in the tube. In the meantime, the womb has been getting ready for the fertilised egg and building up a nice comfy lining for it, but when the egg doesn't arrive, this lining must come away. And so, after another 14 days (on average) the womb starts to contract (squeeze) and the prepared lining becomes a liquid so that it can be shed through the vagina.
This is your period.
YOUR PERIOD FLOW
Your period flow can be light or heavy, pinkish, red with blotches or a brown mucus. This varies from day to day as your period progresses through the average 3 - 7 days. It may seem like a lot of blood, but overall you will only lose between 2 to 6 tablespoons of blood each period! Not much huh? You can view the Kotex® range of products here.
Periods take some getting used to - especially when they interfere with your social life, interrupt a holiday or 'spoil' a music concert! For all women, it takes a bit of getting used to (even if they look as though they are taking it in their stride). Your periods will also change as your life changes but, don't worry, you will get used to having them.
PERIODS AND PAIN
You've heard of period pain right? This is also known as Menstrual Cramps or Dysmenorrhea. Some girls don't get it (lucky them!) while others get it really badly. The good news is that there are ways of dealing with period pain - ways that work! Serious, severe, ongoing period pain that stops you from enjoying daily life should be investigated by a doctor.
Okay, we admit it. Periods are not fun! And you may think that it's totally unfair that guys don't have to put up with them. But guys have other things to deal with too. There's a lot of embarrassing stuff that guys don't often talk about.
Do special things that you enjoy when it's your period. Listen to music. Talk to a friend. Read your favourite magazine or book. Do the things that cheer you up. When you look good, you feel great! Even if you are having your period, it's just part of being a woman.
With a bit of help from Kotex®, you'll be able to handle your periods - no problem!