Okay so let’s just jump straight into it and talk about being female and having periods. As far as I can remember the only lesson/discussion I ever had about periods was in Year 5 (age 9-10). It lasted approximately 2 hours and all the girls were split from the boys. We were shown a slideshow, given a bag full of tampons and sanitary towels along with some leaflets and weren’t allowed to ask any questions. If it wasn’t for having a close relationship with my Mother, I think I would have struggled to deal with periods at first. So I’m going to write this blog post in the hope it helps female, males and even parent’s, guardians or anyone just wondering about periods.
What is a period?
A period is also known as menstruating. A period is made up of blood and the womb lining. Each month the lining of a woman’s womb prepare’s itself by thickening in case pregnancy occurs. If pregnancy does not occur during ovulation, the lining starts to shed away making a woman bleed. The fluid will pass from the womb (uterus) through the vagina. Now I know that sounds awful and painful, but it’s completely natural. It’s far from disgusting, it’s definitely nothing to be embarrassed about, it’s something that pretty much all females will go through in life. It should be embraced, it’s a girl becoming a woman.
I have inserted a chart to show what the menstrual cycle looks like throughout a month.
Leading up to and having your first period
For girls, it can be quite scary when it comes to their first period. There are a number of signs and symptoms that occur before a girl is about to begin her periods. These happen over a certain period of time, not just all at once.
- Hair under arms/pubic hair- can happen up to a year before the first period.
- Breast growth-can happen at any time.
- Sore/tender breasts- can happen at any time.
- white vaginal discharge- can happen up to a year before the first period.
- Bloated stomach- can happen just before the first period.
- Skin breakouts- can happen right at the beginning of puberty.
- Hips widen- can happen right at the beginning of puberty.
- Cranky moods- can happen right at the beginning of puberty.
These signs and symptoms are completely normal for when a girl is about to start her period. There is no correct age for a girl to start her period, some girls are aged as young as 8 some are into their high teens. However, the age of 12 is when most girls will have their first period. A girls first period may not last very long at all. It can take a few months for her body to get into a normal menstrual cycle. Once a girls body has a routine, a period will normally last 3-7 days. It may appear you are losing a lot of blood, but it is only about 3-5 tablespoons over this time period.
Products you can buy
There are many different brands and products out there now for females when it comes to periods, but the most common are tampons and sanitary towels. Although there are tampons on the market that are for pre-teens and young girls just starting their periods, it’s not normally advised that they are used. It is advised that for a girls first few period’s, they stick to using sanitary towels. If you want to be eco-friendly you can even buy reusable, absorbable period underwear, reusable, washable, cloth pads, reusable Menstrual Cups.
Staying clean and hygienic is something anyone should do anyway, but more so when a girl is on their period. When it comes to being on your period and keeping yourself clean there are a few things that can help.
- Changing Sanitary towels and/or tampon 4-5 times a day. On a heavier bleeding day, changing more may be necessary.
- Changing underwear daily as normal unless any accidents happen.
- Wash the genital area morning and night with warm water.
- Washing of the hands after changing your sanitary towel and/or tampon.
Many females worry that they have a certain smell during their period and that others can smell it. Unless you tell people, no one but yourself will know that you are on your period. Keeping to these hygiene points will also prevent any smells appearing.
Period pains aren’t the nicest and can give women some harsh cramps. Period pain is when the uterus contracts. It contracts just like during childbirth but a lot milder I can only but imagine.
There are a few things you can do to help sooth period cramps.
- Hot baths,
- Gentle exercises
- Pain killers such as paracetamol
- Hot water bottles
Especially for you parents/guardians
Think back to when you were children. Most of you will remember periods being a subject you never discussed as it was a taboo subject. However, we need to talk about it as it’s completely natural and world wide women are having a period right now. So here are some point’s I have come up with to help.
- Encourage questions
- Don’t force a conversation- don’t be that parent that sits their child down and forces them to talk about it.
- Don’t worry/panic- There are many other parents going through this stage of their children’s lives, you’re not alone.
- Don’t embarrass anyone- what I mean by this, keep the conversation private.
- Use medical language so no one gets confused.
- Always be prepared- your child may come to you if they start their period and don’t have any tampons or sanitary towels.
- Constant reassurance.
A few more points for everyone
- Tampons aren’t that scary
- Never feel pressured into wearing tampons because all your friends say they were tampons.
- Losing a tampon inside of you is very very hard.
- Brown blood instead of red blood is completely normal.
- You CAN still get pregnant when you are on your period.
- Not everyone will have a period every 28 days.
- Some women can become pregnant and still have a period. However, this is very uncommon
- Vaginal discharge IS NORMAL.
- Accidents happen, be prepared and have spare clothing in school.
- Being underweight, doing a lot of exercises and hormonal imbalance can be the cause of a delayed period.
- Keeping a calendar of your period start and finish days will start to show a pattern for you to follow.
- Only through experience will you know when your period will arrive.
- Telling your parents/guardians when you have your first period isn’t as bad as you think.
- PMS is a real thing.
- Your boobs, lower abdomen, back, and legs are just some of the area’s that can hurt during your period.
- Hormones will be all over the place, so if you want to cry then cry, it’s alright.
- Don’t let your period stop you having fun.
- Never be ashamed.
- Take no notice of boys in your class. They don’t understand.
I hope this is a good beginning for everyone who wants to learn about periods. I’ve tried to keep it short and sweet without confusing the life out of everyone, but give enough information that is helpful. My plan is to continue writing about girls going through puberty to try and help people understand and talk about the taboo subjects.
Published by Vicky Watson