One of the biggest steps you will take in your amazing journey from girl to woman is the first time you get your period or start menstruation. There is a lot of hype about this but it is a rite of passage that every woman goes through.
Try to look on the bright side. You're becoming a woman. That's something to be proud of!
WHAT IS A PERIOD?
A period is a small amount of bleeding that comes from your vagina. The bleeding will last for a few days and happens in cycles - about every 28 days. A cycle is from the first day of one period to the first day of your next period. Some cycles may be shorter and others may be longer. This is normal so don't stress about irregular or ‘abnormal’ cycles'.
WHY DO GIRLS GET PERIODS?
This question gets asked a lot! The answer is pretty easy. As a woman, one of the things that your body has been designed to do is have babies.
So what? Well, getting your period means that your body is old enough to start ripening the little eggs waiting inside your ovaries. But they don't all ripen at once! They do this one at a time - one egg for every cycle - until these little eggs are all used up. Good thing is that you have thousands of eggs, so they will last you until menopause - around the age of 45 - 55 - when your periods will stop.
By not getting pregnant, the womb lining that was prepared in case you did get pregnant is no longer needed. So it comes away as your period.
GETTING YOUR PERIOD FOR THE FIRST TIME
The big occasion is even given its own scientific name, called menarche.
While some girls are reassured that they are finally becoming a young woman, others might feel a little scared about the whole thing. Some girls don't ever want to get their periods!
Emotional reactions are perfectly natural, but having all the info about your first period should give you the confidence to take charge of the situation.
HOW CAN YOU TELL THAT YOUR FIRST PERIOD IS COMING?
You can get your period when you are as young as 9 or as old as 18, but most girls get their first period around the ages of 12 or 13. Remember, there is no right time; your period will start when your body is ready.
Before your periods start, you have to go through puberty and this takes about two years.
During this time you will notice:
- Nipple changes and then your breasts will start to grow
- Pubic and under-arm hair
- You will grow taller and your hips will widen
- Your hair will become more oily and your skin too
- Mood swings and emotions
- You will confide in your best friend (rather than your mom)
Then, before your period starts, you may notice:
- White patches or a brown mucus in your panties
- Having a runny tummy
- Pelvic cramps
- Painful boobs
- Food cravings e.g. for chocolate
If you notice any of these things happening, you might think about having a sit down with your mom, sister, aunt, an older friend, a teacher or any other person you feel comfortable talking to. After all, girls must stick together!
PREPARE FOR YOUR FIRST PERIOD
IT’S BEST TO HAVE A FEW THINGS ON HAND – JUST IN CASE!
- Sanitary products like tampons, pads and liners. We recommend the Kotex® Designer Ultra Young Pads to start with. Keep a few in your school bag, too.
- A little pouch to keep your pads in.
- A hot water bottle or other pain remedies for the period pains.
Getting your first period doesn't need to be a big drama - it should be a celebration! Don't get worried, get organised, and remember that you're not the first or the last woman to go through this.