Did you know that your first period is an event to celebrate? Periods are a natural, healthy and important part of a young girl's life. Not only are you one step closer to being grownup (yea!), it's presence means your body is working the way it should. Even more, getting in touch with this new monthly visitor will give you the opportunity to learn a whole lot about yourself along the way.
To the girls who have questions about their cycle that they might not have thought about,
To the girls who have questions but are too afraid or embarrassed to ask,
To the girls who are just plain curious and will ask whatever pops in their head,
Whichever girl you are, here are some interesting tidbits about your period to keep in mind as you begin this new stage in life:
What is considered a "normal" period?
“Is my period normal?” It's one of the biggest questions you will likely have. Before you can assume your period isn't the norm, it's important to know what that even means. First off, most girls will experience period bleeding that lasts 2 to 7 days and an average menstrual cycle (counted as the first day your period starts to the first day your next period begins) will typically be anywhere from 21 to 35 days long.
But, there is a lot of normal variation in the amount, colour, and consistency of the bleeding, and even a girl's cycle can vary from month to month. That means, it's totally normal if you bleed heavily one cycle, then lighter the next time, or get a 25-day cycle one month and then a 30-day cycle after that. More on this below.
Ok, so why is your period so different from your friends and sisters?
It's simple: Just like you are unique, your period experience will be unique to you, too. So if you've been swapping stories and comparing your experiences to those of other girls, you need to keep that in mind. As we learned above, there is a wide range of experiences that are considered normal. So, the question isn't “Is my period normal?” It's more like, “Is my period normal for me?”
How much are you actually bleeding?
It may look and feel like you are bleeding buckets... but the truth is a girl usually only loses about 4 to 6 tablespoons of blood throughout her whole period. You can also expect the flow to be light on some days and heavier on others.
Why do you feel so (fill in the blank) when you get your period?
As your period approaches, you may find yourself struggling with insane moodiness. One minute you're practically crying about everything, whether it's happy, sad or neither. The next minute you can't stop laughing, which only makes you cry even more. Things that wouldn’t normally upset you suddenly do: the traffic light isn't changing fast enough, the slice of pizza you bought is too garlicky, the smell of your best friend's perfume bothers you. As if that wasn't enough, you may also have nausea, bloating, and acne. Blame it on the hormonal changes that happen a few days before your cycle begins-- an experience known as PMS (premenstrual syndrome). Then grab some chocolate, buckle in and enjoy the ride.
What products should you use?
There are many options to choose from to help you catch your menstrual flow. While pads and tampons of various shapes, sizes, and materials may be the most common, there are also period pads and menstrual cups, and each product comes with its own set of pros. Expect to experiment a bit to figure out which product or combination of products works best for your needs and body type - even before you get your first period.
If you miss a period does it mean you're pregnant?
In short, no. A girl can miss her period for many reasons, including exercising a lot, not eating enough calories and healthy food, and being exposed to a high level of stress. Even adolescence, with its hormonal ups and downs, can cause your cycle to be unusually late. But, if you do skip a period and get a negative pregnancy test, you should still schedule a visit with your doctor to make sure that there isn't a more serious underlying cause.
Will you ever feel the same again?
Yes and no. Even if you are very aware of your period and feel like your life has changed, you won’t necessarily seem different to those around you. It also doesn't have to get in the way of exercising, having fun, and enjoying life. You may have started an exciting journey into womanhood, but you're still you after all...