Periods don’t have to suck – just make sure you know what to expect and are prepared....
Click here to see a cool moving diagram, showing the monthly journey an egg makes from the ovaries to the uterus....
When can I expect my first period?
Just as some girls begin puberty earlier or later than others, the same applies to periods. Periods usually happens somewhere between the ages of 9 -16 years (or two years after your breasts start growing). However, don't worry if you start earlier or later than your friends. Our bodies have their own personal body clock for periods and puberty. If you're at all worried, see your doctor for reassurance.
How long does a cycle last for?
The amount of time between a girl's periods is called her menstrual cycle. The cycle is counted from the start of one period to the start of the next). Some girls will find that their menstrual cycle lasts 28 days, whereas others might have a 24-day cycle, a 30-day cycle, or even a 35-day cycle.
When you are just beginning your periods it may take the body a while to sort out all the changes going on - so a girl may have a 28-day cycle for 2 months, then miss a month or have two periods with hardly any time in between them, for example. Usually, after a number of months, the menstrual cycle will become more regular.
How long will I have my period for?
The amount of time that a girl has her period for can also vary. Some girls have periods that last just 2 or 3 days; other girls may have periods that last 7 days or longer. The menstrual flow — meaning how much blood comes out of the vagina — can vary widely from girl to girl, too. You generally have heavy days at the start and they lighten out towards the end.
For most girls an entire period consists of anywhere from a few spoonfuls to less than 1/2 cup of blood — it just looks like a lot!
If you're worried about your blood flow or whether your period is normal in other ways, talk to a doctor.
Annoying symptoms of a period
You may have to deal with a few annoying things premenstual (PMS) symptoms before you get your period. These vary from girl to girl but can include:
- Mood swings
- Weight gain or bloating
- Sore breasts
- Poor concentration
PMS usually goes away soon after a period begins, but it can come back month after month. Exercising, eating well, and getting heaps of rest can help with the symptoms of PMS. Visit your doctor if you are finding it hard to deal with PMS.
There is always a first time for everyone.... here's a check list of some things you'll need...
- Sanitary protection (tampons/pads)
- A small bag to keep the unused pads in
- Spare undies incase you need to change them
- A calendar so you can work out when your next period will arrive
Pads or tampons?Basically, go with whatever you feel is right for you and whatever you feel most comfortable with. Be sure to match your sanitary protection with the right absorbency for your flow.
The choices you have are:
Small, compacted absorbent cloth used internally. They are inserted into the vagina with an applicator or by using your finger and have a string to remove them. Some girls prefer using tampons so they can continue activities, such as swimming, during a period.
A piece of asorbent cloth that's worn outside the body. They have adhesive strips to help them stick to your undies. Make sure you keep the adhesive strips away from pubes to avoid them tearing them... you'll never make a mistake like that twice!.
Sanitary pads and tampons absorb different amounts of blood - look on the packet to see if the absorption rate is right for what you need. There are certain ones perfect for light flow, moderate flow, heavy flow and night time.
Choose your sanitary protection
- You should wash your hands before and after changing pads or tampons.
- Choosing a pad or tampon- Use the lowest absorbency tampon for your level of blood flow and comfort. Only use a super tampon on your really heavy days and on light days use light tampons or a pad. Change your tampons regularly (3 – 6 times a day) and never leave a tampon in for more than 8 hours.
- Sometimes you mt leak! UGH! But it's something that happens to all girls at some time or other! Just try to change your sanitary protection more often if you can or plan ahead for when things are tricky - like in a double lesson at school or in bed overnight.
- Tampons should not be worn overnight – use overnight pads instead. Make sure you choose one with a wide area at the back for extra protection!
- Do not flush pads or tampons down the toilet as they can cause a blockage- EEK! Dispose of pads and tampons in the sanitary bins provided at school, or wrap them in toilet paper and put them in the garbage.
- There is no need to be embarrassed when buying pads or tampons. Let's face it, we all use them and the odds are that the check-out chick buys them too! Most girls don't feel comfortable buying pads or tampons right away, just pop them in the shopping trolley and let mum or dad buy them for you!
-For Teachers-Request samples for your class
U by Kotex® has sample packs available for your class, which contains ultrathin pads, tampons and liners. These are supplied in a stylish clutch bag that the girls will love.
Please note that these samples are available only to schools in Australia.