Getting your period is normal, healthy and inevitable if you are female. It is one of the most significant and obvious markers of growing up. It means your body is physically ready to get pregnant if you have sex without using a condom or birth control, even if you aren’t emotionally, mentally or financially prepared.

If you are waiting to get your period or have just started menstruating, you probably have questions about all the changes that are happening to your body. It’s important to know what is happening and to get comfortable with the new reality.

Here are the basics

Most people will start to menstruate sometime between the ages of 9 and 16. Everyone is going to start menstruating in their own time. Don’t worry if you start earlier or later than you friends.

Your Period

The inner lining of your uterus sheds off during your period. Just over half of it is blood, the rest is fluids and soft tissues. If a sperm fertilizes an egg, this blood-rich lining will help to support a growing fetus. If the egg is not fertilized, it dissolves in the fallopian tubes. It is only the size of a dot on an ‘i’ so you won’t even notice it. Soon after the egg is gone, the lining of the uterus separates and leaves the body through the vagina. This is your period.

During menstruation about 4-6 tablespoons of blood and fluid leave the body through the vagina. It usually happens every 21-35 days and takes between 2-7 days. The exact length of time and amount of fluid are different for each girl.

Ovulation

All women are born with thousands of ova (egg cells) already in their ovaries. It is not until puberty that the ova begin to mature and leave the ovaries one at a time. About two weeks before you get your period, an egg leaves the ovary and goes into one of the fallopian tubes. This is called ovulation.

Tracking your Menstrual Cycle

You can keep track of your menstrual cycle on a calendar. This will help you know when to expect your next period. Mark the day on the calendar when your period starts and count how many days pass until the next one. You might even skip your period sometimes. It could just be three weeks all the way up to a few months between periods, especially while you are younger.

If you miss a period when you are older it is generally related to illness or stress, pregnancy or medications. If you miss more than one period and think you might be pregnant please contact us for more information.

How do you absorb the menstrual flow?

Pads attach to the inside of panties with small sticky strips and catch the flow outside the body.

Tampons are small absorbent rolls of cotton that are put right into the vagina. Some have an applicator and some don’t. Tampons have a string attached to them to help remove them. It’s okay to go swimming when a tampon in. Read the instructions.

Cups such as the Diva Cup are less expensive in the long run because they can be re-used. The cup fits into the area surrounding your cervix and collects the blood that flows out of your uterus. Wash it with warm soapy water and it is ready to be used again. There are also cups that are used just once.

Natural sponges and other types of cupes can be found at most health food stores. To use these methods and the cups mentioned above, you need to be comfortable reaching inside your vagina with your fingers.

You should also talk to a parent, an older sister or a nurse about what to do when you start menstruating.






What if you get your period unexpectedly?

Many people worry about getting their first period. They wonder what to do if it starts while they’re at school or away from home. Here are some tips:

  • keep pads and tampons in a bag or locker
  • ask a teacher or a friend for a pad or tampon
  • check the bathroom for a machine that sells pads or tampons
  • make a pad out of toilet paper or paper towel to use until you get home






Can you still do all the things you usually do? What about bathing and sports?

If you are menstruating you can exercise, dance, play sports and bathe normally. You can even swim if you use a tampon. Feel free to do what you want to do. Menstruation is a normal and healthy part of life. It is nothing to be embarrassed about.






How do you feel during your period? What about cramps?

Because of the changes in hormones just before menstruation, many people feel bloated and puffy and find that their breasts are tender. They may also feel a bit moody or even a little down. Some people also have cramps. To help you feel better you can exercise, take a hot bath and take a painkiller for cramps. If your cramps are very painful, you should see your doctor.