My First Period
What is a period?
I'm sure you have heard the word "period" and are wondering what it's all about. A period, or menstruation [men-stroo-ay-shun], is part of your body's normal monthly cycle and it's also a major stage of puberty. The blood that results is called your menstrual flow. This flow comes about once a month and can last anywhere from two to seven days.
When will I get my period?
Most girls can expect to have their first period between the ages of 11-14, but it is not uncommon to happen anywhere from nine to 17. A few clues that your period is on its way are breast growth, pubic and underarm hair growth, and vaginal discharge. Another way to figure out when you might start is to ask your mom how old she was when she started. You will usually start your period within a year of that age.
What can I expect?
Getting your first period can be a scary time, but by listening to your body and preparing for that day, you will be much better off. Many girls will experience cramps before or during their period. The cramps my be dull and achy or sharp and intense and they are usually located in the stomach or lower back. To help ease the pain, try a heating pad or an over-the-counter medication (such as ibuprofen). Regular exercise may also help relieve the discomfort that comes with the cramps. You may also notice that your stomach feels a little bloated (or enlarged) and that you are feeling sad or get irritated easily. These types of physical and emotional changes could be a result of premenstrual syndrome or PMS. It happens to many girls right before they start their period and usually goes away once your period begins.
Once you get your period you have a few options for dealing with the flow, including menstrual cups, pads, and tampons. Click to learn about the different options available to you.