Getting your period is a part of growing from a girl into a young woman. Once you start having your period it is a sign that you can become pregnant. Having your period is also often referred to as being ‘on, ‘coming on’, or or having your ‘time of the month’.
Girls are born with thousands of eggs inside their ovaries. Once you reach puberty (usually between the ages of 9 and 15) you will begin to have your periods.
Each month one of these eggs is released and when this happens the lining of your womb will become thicker in preparation for pregnancy. If this egg remains unfertilised (meaning you are not pregnant), both the egg and the lining leave your body through the vagina. It is this that causes the bleeding that you will experience during your period.
At the same time, a new egg takes its place in the womb and the lining begins to thicken once more. This is when the whole cycle begins again. A full cycle is roughly 28 days, but it’s perfectly normal to have much shorter or longer cycles.
Once you start having your period it is then normal for you to have them up until the age of about 50, when the menopause (hormonal changes) occur. When this happens they will stop.
How to deal with periods?
There is a range of different period protection products on the market and you may be best trying out the different options to see which suits you best.
The two main types of protection available are:
- Sanitary towels
These have a sticky strip on them which sticks to the inside of your pants and hold them in place. They catch the blood as it leaves your vagina.
Tampons fit inside your vagina and soak up your period blood before it leaves your vagina. Some tampons come with special inserters (applicators) and they all have a string attached to them, to make it easier to pull them out. You are still a ‘virgin’ if you use tampons.
Whichever option you decide is best for you it is worth remembering that they will normally need to be changed several times a day during your period.
Most women experience period pains of some sort each month with their period. These range from stomach pains and cramps, (which are the most common), to other more annoying symptoms such as dizziness, nausea or diarrhoea.
To combat these pains many women choose to relax and gently massage the areas where they have pain and this tends to help. However, if you find that you have particularly bad problems each month it might be worth talking to a parent, carer or even possibly a doctor who will be able to help you find the best way of handling the problem each month.
Pre-Menstrual Tension (PMT)
Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS) is experienced by nearly 90% of women. During the week or so before a period begins you may see a change in your mood and the way that your body feels.
This is quite normal and there are things you can do to control these feelings that you will experience. Our Pre-Menstrual Syndrome article can give you more information.
Who can help?
Talking to a family member or teacher that you can trust may also help you. They will all have experienced getting their period and will be able to tell you what to expect and help put your mind at ease.
The Being Girl website gives teenage girls lots of information about periods. Visit www.beinggirl.co.uk/yourbody/periods.php.
NHS Choices provides further information about Periods at http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/periods/Pages/Introduction.aspx