What signs should I look for?
Generally, you can expect your first period about two years after your breasts first start to develop, and soon after you have some hair under your arms and in your pubic area. Vaginal discharge is also a good indication that you could begin to menstruate soon.
When you first begin your period, you may feel moisture in your underwear. It may not feel much different than the discharge you’ve had before. Sometimes you can feel the menstrual flow, especially after you’ve been sitting or lying down for a while. When you stand up, it may feel like a gush. This is because the fluid has been collecting while you were at rest.
Menstrual cramps are like cramps elsewhere in your body. A muscle contracts too hard or too fast, constricting the blood flow and producing pain. In this case, the muscles are in the uterus. Simple health habits of good posture, exercise, adequate diet, regular elimination — all are important in helping prevent painful menstruation. Exercise is very helpful. If cramps present a problem, discuss this with your doctor, teacher, or school nurse. A doctor may prescribe medication to relieve severe cramps
How often will I have my period?
Everyone’s cycle is individual. You may menstruate every 22 days or every 43 days, or it may vary for the first couple of years after you begin your period. An average cycle is 28 days, about once a month. (Menstruation comes from the Latin word menses which means month.) But your average may be different. That’s normal. Keep track with a calendar by circling the first day your period starts each time.
Can anyone tell when I have my period?
No one can tell. When you first start wearing feminine protection products, it will be a new feeling. While you may be very aware of your period when you first start having periods, other people won’t be. You can wear pads like Always® Ultra Thin pads and feel confident even in tight-fitting clothing.
What if I start my period at school or someplace else?
Consider always carrying an emergency kit in your backpack or purse or keeping one in your locker. This kit can contain a pad or two and a clean pair of underwear. Another option is to look for vending machines in restrooms. At school, you can check with the school nurse or health office.
Will having my period hurt?
For most girls, no. Sometimes some girls will have discomfort. This is referred to as cramps. This discomfort may feel like a dull ache or tightening in the lower abdomen. Many girls find that exercise is a big help. Or when exercise isn’t possible, try a warm bath, taking deep breaths while flexing the abdomen, or use a heating pad on the abdomen.
Some girls find that nonprescription pain relievers help relieve their menstrual cramps. Of course, make sure to check with an adult like a parent, school nurse, or doctor before taking any kind of medication.
Can I still play sports and participate in other activities during my period?
Certainly. You can participate in your normal activities. Do what you feel like. If you think about it, you’ll realize that many of the girls and women around you all the time probably have their periods. They go ahead with their activities, too.
Yes. Tampons are an effective form of internal protection. They are especially convenient because they allow you to continue all your normal activities, including swimming. Tampons come in several sizes and absorbencies, depending on your body size and menstrual flow. Check with your mom or school nurse before using them for the first time. Be sure to read the directions and change often.
How do I know what products are right for me?
Talk to your mom, school nurse, or an adult you feel comfortable talking with to help you choose. Remember, there are a variety of products to choose from. Experiment to find the right system of protection for you from heavy days to light days