Getting Your First Period

We have answers for girls and ideas for parents. Don’t worry about talking about periods. Sharing information and advice is the best way to understand your period and get rid of any fears you may have! No question is too stupid and if the first person you ask doesn’t know, ask another one. If you go on the internet make sure you are using proper medical websites such as the NHS. There are a lot of professional websites which don’t have any doctors or nurses supervising what is written there and they can give you wrong, sometimes dangerous, advice. 

Your First Period: What You Need To Know

Have you just started your period? Or want to know what to expect? Your period is part of growing up, it is nothing to worry about.

Your period is the elimination of your uterus wall lining which comes out of your vagina as blood and mucous to make up your menstrual flow. It is part of a natural process which prepares your body for pregnancy. Now that your body is changing you can get pregnant if you have sex. You can even get pregnant just before your first period. 

female reproductive system

 

Your period happens once a month, and usually lasts between 2-7 days, but it may take a few months for your period to be regular and predictable. The first few may be light and irregular. You may find it useful to keep track of your period every month, to see when it is due and when it arrives. You can use an easy period tracking app. 

Signs That You Are Close To Getting Your First Period

Around the time of your first period, your body shape will change.  Your hips and breasts will get bigger and you will see hair growing in new places, under your arms and around your vulva. These are all normal changes and part of growing up. This time of your life is called puberty

Your First Questions

Your period does not have to get in the way of your life. It is normal and natural, and nothing to be embarrassed or worried about. Here are some of the most common questions:

  • When do I get my first period?
    Many girls get their period between ages 12-14, but it can start earlier or later. It can arrive as early as your 8th birthday or you may have to wait until you are 15. This is still considered to be normal. Your first period is called the menarche. 
  • My period just started, what should I do?
    Don’t worry! Tell a parent, friend or teacher. Adults or older siblings can help you to get the right information and products that you need. 
  • How long does my period last?
    Periods usually last between 2 - 7 days but each body is different. If your period often lasts longer than 7 days, talk to a parent or a doctor.
  • How much blood will I lose?
    It may look like a lot, but it is only around 3-5 tablespoons. This blood is actually a mix of blood and uterus or womb lining. You may find blood clots in your menstrual cup or other menstrual products but it is quite common and no reason to panic.  
  • Will anyone know I am on my period?
    Unless you decide to tell them, it is very unlikely anybody else will know that you menstruating. Choosing the right menstrual product, such as a menstrual cup, will help you feel more confident. However, it is a good idea to ask a family or a friend for help if you feel worried. Never feel ashamed of your period.    
  • Which product should I use?
    You have a choice of products, take your time finding the right one. We explain more about the product options below.
  • Can I go swimming or play sports?
    Yes! Some menstrual products let you exercise, swim and play sports as usual. Menstrual cups are one of the most popular among active people with periods. Here are some good reasons you should exercise during your period. 

How To Manage Your Period

There are different menstrual products available. Find the right solution for you, and take time to practice until you feel comfortable and confident. Always wash your hands before and after changing your period product.

Sanitary Pads

Pads or towels are worn in your underwear and stick to hold in place. They absorb your menstrual flow as it leaves your body. Change your pad every 4-6 hours and dispose of it in the rubbish bin. Please do not flush pads and tampons down the toilet as they will destroy your plumbing system and pollute the sea and beaches. 

Tampons

Tampons are made of a cotton material and are carefully inserted into your vagina where they absorb your menstrual blood. They can have a paper or plastic applicator which helps with the insertion or be pushed in with your finger. They must be removed and changed every 4-6 hours and disposed of in the rubbish. Please do not flush pads and tampons down the toilet as they will destroy your plumbing system and pollute the sea and beaches. 

Menstrual Cups

Menstrual cups are small cups that are inserted into your vagina, like tampons. They collect your flow and can be worn for up to 8 hours. They are made of medical grade silicone which is very safe for your body.  and are washable and reusable - so they are good for the environment too! Check Get Started With a Menstrual Cup to find out more or order a Ruby Cup.  

For Parents

A first period (also known as menarche) is a special event. Spend time with your child to celebrate the start of a new chapter in their life. Sharing knowledge and experience is important to help you feel comfortable and confident about the changes that are happening to their body.


1. Reassure

Preparing them with correct and updated information before their first period arrives can prevent worry. Let them know they are normal and that they can still enjoy their childhood. Just because their period has arrived, they do not need to be rushed into becoming an adult. If you feel uncomfortable about talking about it then use a book or leaflet to get the conversation going. 


2. Share

Talk from experience. Let your child know that all menstruating teenagers go through it, and if you didn't go through it, find someone you trust who did. Explain which menstrual health products are available, how to use them and how to make them feel comfortable. If you need more information about newer products on the market or just a reminder, use a trusted medically reviewed website to get the information. 

3. Know the facts

Have a look at our additional pages for information about everything from period problems to Menstrual Cycle and Get Started With a Menstrual Cup . This can be a good way of making sure that the information you share is correct. It is better for you to offer the correct information rather than unintentionally pass on old wives tales which aren’t scientifically true. You can email or message the link if this is easier.

Date last reviewed: April 2020

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Dr Alice Byram Bsc Med & Surg UMA MA Hons MML Cantab
 Written by Dr Alice Byram Bsc Med & Surg UMA MA Hons MML Cantab

Dr Alice Byram was born in England to a French-British family. Following on from a degree in Spanish from the University of Cambridge, she went to Spain to study medicine. On her return to the UK, she worked in Emergency Medicine for several years before recently returning to Barcelona.

1Klein DA, Emerick JE, Sylvester JE, Vogt KS. Disorders of Puberty: An Approach to Diagnosis and Management. Am Fam Physician. 2017;96(9):590–599.