What to expect from your period
A how-to guide for first-timers
Your period is the big event whereby, every month, blood comes out of your vagina for about five days. If you have gotten your period already, you should tell someone you trust who can help you choose how to mop up the blood.
When you get every period, you should write down or record the date in a period tracker app. Most period tracker apps have a free version, where you can record your periods, learn when you are probably ovulating, and know when to expect your next period.
How to mop up your period blood
These items are very absorbent, needing to be changed regularly, depending on how heavy your period is. ‘Heavy’ means how much blood is coming out – if you are using up a big tampon or pad every half an hour, that is a heavy period. If you are only using up one regular tampon per day, that is light period flow.
Sanitary items cost money, so if you don’t have your own money, you’ll need to ask someone to buy them for you. You cannot reuse pads or tampons, but you can rinse out and wash a menstrual cup, and wash period undies in the washing machine.
We don’t recommend ‘free bleeding‘, which is just letting your period go onto your clothes.
How to figure out when your next period is coming
Tracking your periods is really important just because you don’t want to get caught out with blood in your underwear, totally unprepared with no tampons, pads, or whatever in your bag or pocket. Period tracker apps are great, but a calendar also works really well. You will start to be able to count the days between your periods, and they’ll often be similar, but probably not exactly the same each month. Not very many periods are exactly the same amount of days apart.
Your periods may be 21, 26, 28 or 32 days apart, or anything in between. Usually they will be about the same amount of days apart, but keep a list, and you’ll learn what to expect. Your periods are unlikely to be less than 21 days apart, or more than 35 days apart.
You will start to notice telltale signs that your period is getting close, for example your breasts might feel tender and sore, you may get extra hungry (and keep eating even though you’re full), and you may get moody, cry easily, and be completely unreasonable.
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
Mood changes from about 10 days before your period are called premenstrual syndrome (PMS), but if it gets really bad, it’s called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), which is much more serious and debilitating. You may feel like you hate yourself or just feel really down and despondent. If you feel like this, you should ask for help from someone you trust, because you may benefit from going on a course of Premular (a herbal formula that can cure PMS and PMDD).
If you have really bad PMS or PMDD, you may need to make some adjustments to your diet. This may be new to you, since kids can eat just about anything and it doesn’t matter, but as soon as hormones get involved, it starts to matter a lot more.
It can be hard to know what’s going on without a bit of assessment, and there’s just no way you could possibly know what to do about your diet. We’ll get you there slowly but surely, with the first thing to think about being too much oestrogen. Learn more about relative oestrogen excess and how you can change it with what you eat. (Hint: it’s not junk food and sweets!)
Things to know about periods
- Your period blood comes from your uterus, which is inside your body, just underneath your belly button
- You will not die from your period
- Periods are not dangerous
- Everyone gets their period at a different time, but usually between the ages of 10 – 15
- Skinny girls get their periods later than everyone else because you need fat to make hormones
- Your period may hurt, make you feel bad, and stop you from doing certain things sometimes
What to do about painful periods
Period pain is very common in first-timers, because your poor little uterus has never had a cramp before. The way your uterus gets the blood out of your body is to cramp, like spasm, to push the blood out. This really hurts, though how much it hurts depends on each girl. Some girls will have terrible pains, while others will only get a little.
Usually period pain gets less as you get older, as your uterus – like any muscle – gets stronger and used to doing its period-expelling work.
There are a few things you can do about painful periods, from taking anti-inflammatory painkillers, to massaging your uterus (which is free, and works!). Check out our guide on period pain for an in-depth guide to managing period pain.
Tampons are a great invention, but they can be a little tricky to figure out how to use. We’ve written so much on how to use tampons, but start off with our simple guide to putting in a tampon.
Using menstrual cups
If you thought tampons were hard, menstrual cups take that a little further, but once you get the hang of putting in a menstrual cup, you’ll never look back. Menstrual cups are a one-off cost that will last you for a while. You squish the soft silicone cup, pushing it up into your body so it sits just under your cervix, catching all your period blood. It sounds weird, but they’re great.
We recommend taking your time to figure out how to use menstrual cups. Read more about menstrual cups.
Using pads and panty liners
Pads come in various absorbencies and are designed for a lot of blood, while panty liners are more for discharge and very, very light bleeding. Panty liners are designed to protect your underwear from ‘stuff’, while a pad is designed to absorb a lot of period. We’ve written a big article about pads and panty liners.
Using period undies
Period undies are a recent invention that allow you to essentially free bleed into your underwear, without fear of leakage. You can wear period undies if you are prone to filling up a tampon and leaking (including during the night) and don’t want to ruin yet another pair of undies, or if you just like them because if you get a few of them, you can not pay for tampons or pads. We love period undies – read more.
Things that are not specifically tied to your period, but matter anyway…
You are going to be sprouting pubes from your armpits and your groin. However it grows on your is going to be unique to you – big and bushy, small and tufty, coarse, curly, wispy, whatever. You can do whatever you like with your pubes – shave them off, grow them long, plait them, or save your cuttings to make a beard for a play. It’s nobody’s business but yours. Learn what to do with pubes.
Your vagina and vulva
You may be seeing some weird changes to your vaginal lips – they will be growing bigger, may be changing colour, and you may think you’ve done something to them to make them change like this. But, your body is just changing because it’s time for your labia to become luxurious and your vulva to get bigger. This is because your hormones have kicked off, and your childlike vagina and vulva are a thing of the past.
Your body will never go back to what it used to be like, so get used to your new vag – it’s the only one you’ll ever have. You are probably touching your vulva and maybe inside your vagina, more than you ever have before. This is because it’s doing things! There is a whole lot of stuff going on down there that is turning your vagina into a functional piece of your body, like your mouth or your ear.
You should understand your anatomy – check out vag basics, and look at all the diagrams so you get the gist of what’s inside of you, what angle it’s on, and how it’s going to end up looking.
You might think it’s cool, you might think it’s gross, or anywhere in between. What it is is your vagina and vulva, forever and ever. It does some great things (like orgasms), some hardcore things (like squeezing a giant baby out, then bouncing right back), and some weird things like popping out ping pong balls if you were to put a bit of training in.
If you get stuck with any questions, big or small, write to Aunt Vadge. She knows everything.