A female’s first period is the first stage of becoming a woman physically, it starts when they hit puberty. Their body goes through several changes such as the development of pubic hair, growth of hair on legs and armpits, development of breasts, rapid changes in the shape of the body.
The first period generally starts between the age of 12 and 13. Sometimes it also starts a little earlier or later, too. In normal cases, menstruation begins after two years of hitting puberty.
When your body becomes capable of reproduction your menstrual cycle begins. Your estrogen level increases and it causes the thickening of the uterus line. To support a fertilized egg and develop into pregnancy the uterus lining thickens. But, if there isn’t a fertilized egg, your body will break the lining down and push it out of the uterus. This causes bleeding that is your menstrual period. If you are having your first period it gets difficult without sufficient knowledge about it. You will know about basic and important things on how to learn and get prepared for your first period.
Signs and Symptoms of Period
Some females get their periods without prior warning. But, it doesn’t happen with everyone; they may experience PMS(premenstrual syndrome) before the arrival of their period.
Common symptoms of PMS are:
- Acne (getting pimples on the face)
- Abdominal bloating (when belly feels puffy)
- Cramps (pain in your lower back or lower belly)
- Soreness in your breasts
- Fatigue (feeling more tired than usual)
- Mood swings
- Food cravings
- Clear or white vaginal discharge
What can you face in your first period?
Every girl has a different experience during their first period. A girl’s first period may be light with just a few spots of brownish blood or it may be more brownish. It may be brighter red on heavier flow days. Periods are often irregular during the first few years of menstruation. When you have your first period it may last only for a few days.
What you can do when it starts at an odd time
If you are having your first period at an odd time then surely you are not experienced in dealing with such situations. Don’t panic, calm down and try to find a way to absorb the blood. If you are unable to do so, find an elder woman and ask for help. You can also try to wrap something absorbent such as toilet paper or a clean washcloth around the vaginal area. It can prevent the blood from leaking outside and absorb it. You can prepare yourself for the arrival of your first period. Prepare a period kit that consists of an extra pair of underwear, tampons or pads and unscented baby wipes to clean any leakages.
Tips on self-care during your period
Facing changes in your body and then bleeding can sound bizarre to a girl having her first period. But it is nothing to fret upon girls, periods are a normal part of life. You do not have to limit yourself or change your daily routine. You may face cramping pain in the lower abdomen or lower back just before or during periods. Others may get headaches, feel dizzy, get nausea or diarrhea. To help get ease for period cramps you can try the below-mentioned steps:
- Apply heat pads and hot water bottles on your lower abdomen and lower back.
- Take a warm bath.
- Do some gentle exercise, walking or yoga.
- If these do not work and pain gets severe try taking ibuprofen or naproxen sodium (intake it only if you do not have an allergy to aspirin or have severe asthma)
- You can get the medicine at an online pharmacy. Always make sure to read the directions on the bottle about the quantity to take medicine.
- If these problems do not get away and hinder your daily school life or other work then you should talk to your doctor.
After your first period, it can be difficult to predict the next time of your period. It can take time for you to adjust to using period products. You can track your period using a calendar, diary or app. To track your period on a calendar mark the first day your bleeding starts on a calendar with an “X”. Put an “X” on each of the following days that you have bleeding. Count the first “X” as day 1. Keep counting the days until you have your next period.
Benefits and steps to use pads, tampons, and menstrual cups
In the following section we will know about the benefits and methods to use menstrual items to absorb blood in detail:
Pads are used to protect yourself from period bleeding. The benefits and use of sanitary pads are that you can use them by sticking them on the underwear. They are narrow pieces of material and some of them have wings or flaps that can be folded over the sides of your underwear. Change pads every 4-8 hrs or whenever you start feeling uncomfortable. They are easy to use on your first period. It comes in various shapes and sizes. It can be used in addition to cups or tampons. Before throwing the used pads wrap them in a wrapper or toilet paper properly then throw them in the trash can. Don’t flush the used pads, it can clog the toilet.
Tampons are made of cotton that fits inside your vagina and soaks up menstrual blood. Some of them come with an appliance that helps you put in the tampon. It has a string attached to the end so you can pull them out easily. It can be more comfortable than pads and are not visible under clothing. Sports Women can use it while swimming or playing other sports. You need to select the right size to avoid leakage. It is important to change it every 4-8 hours. Learn to use it safely to prevent getting toxic shock syndrome. Wrap it in toilet paper before throwing it in the trash can.
Menstrual cups are shaped like bells or bowls and made of rubber, silicone or soft plastic. It is worn inside the vagina to collect blood. When the cup is full it is important to remove it and clean it with clean water before reusing it. These cups come in different shapes and sizes so everyone can find the suitable size that fits them. Some cups need to be put high into your vagina, near your cervix. Others sit in the lower part of your vagina.
Putting in a cup shouldn’t hurt but if it does, contact a doctor. Cups are reusable so you can say it is more cost-effective than tampons and sanitary pads. Use it for 12 hours and then you can change. It also avoids you from creating waste as tampons and pads do. Specialized cleaners are available for cleaning it. Make sure to use the correct size of menstrual cups. Other menstrual cups are disposable so you can throw them after a single use or one period cycle.
You can wear your period underwear on days when you are bleeding. Your period underwear comes with instructions that tell the best way to wash them. If you are wearing light flow period underwear but having heavy flow then you may need to change your underwear. You can also get some extra help from a tampon, sanitary pad or menstrual cups.
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Care & Treatment
It is normal to have irregular periods but if this irregularity remains constant you need to consult a doctor. When to consult a doc :
- The frequency and type of blood flow can sometimes affect female health.
- If you have a heavy flow that requires you to change tampons or pads every 1-2 hours.
- If you have severe pain or frequent mood swings that prevent normal activities.
- If you have no periods for 3 months or longer after the first period.
- If your periods occur sooner than 21 days apart or longer than 35 days apart.
- Periods that last for 7 days or longer
- If you have no periods by the age of 15 years old.
- Emergency medical help is important if someone develops any symptoms of TSS that include sudden fever, body aches, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, a rash.