Every woman will remember that time in her life when Aunt Flo visited for the very first time. It is an unforgettable milestone and heralds one’s transition into womanhood and no one ever forgets the shock and awe they experienced upon getting their first period. From locking oneself in the bathroom to blood stains, the revelation of finally hitting puberty and coming of age is always something that one remembers for a long time.
The onset of the first period of a woman is called Menarche. It heralds the beginning of the reproductive cycle of a woman and the growth of secondary sexual characters. This means that one’s body begins the production of hormones like progesterone and estrogen that causes developments like breasts to grow, hair in armpits, vaginal areas and other parts of the body, growth in height and in some cases, even pimples on the face.
Even today, period talk is stigmatized in society and leads to misinformation and prevents girls, who have just reached puberty, from acquiring the right knowledge about their bodies. Therefore, in an effort to normalize the stereotype regarding menstruation, here are some answers to a few common questions that many teens may be having regarding their first period:
1. When does one get their first period?
Menarche usually starts between the ages of 10-16 for most girls. Although there can be no way to perfectly determine when your period may begin, it usually depends on the socio-economic, genetic, and general mental and physical well-being of the woman.
2. Should you feel embarrassed about it?
It is alright if you get a little mortified during the first time you get your period. Remember, periods are just as normal as anything else. Talking to your mother, aunt, older sister, or anyone that you are comfortable with, will be one of the best resources to know what’s happening to you and why. This way, you won’t feel as if you are going through this new phase all by yourself and may even cut back some of the embarrassment quotient.
3. Is there anything I can’t do while on my period?
Your periods shouldn’t hold you back from pursuing anything in life. You can still go to school, play any sports, and even eat whatever you want! But at some times, periods may be accompanied by cramps and fatigue. Therefore, taking rest during this time is perfectly normal as well.
4. How can I prepare for my period?
There’s no telling when one’s period may hit, but if you're someone who likes to be prepared for things, we suggest carrying sanitary napkins with you at all times. You may also experience period symptoms like stomach aches, bloating, breaking out, sore breasts, or mood swings. Sometimes, you may get a bloodstain on your lower body but there is no need to panic. Asking a woman nearby for a menstrual product is perfectly appropriate behaviour and usually women never shy from helping out over this.
5. What’s the ideal menstrual product to use if it’s my first period?
With the market of menstrual products expanding, it may be a little confusing to figure out the perfect product. However, if it's your first period, going old school and using a sanitary pad seems like the wisest decision. Your vagina may still be adjusting to this new development, so inserting anything inside it in your first try may not be ideal. Later on, you can consult a gynecologist and see which menstrual products suit you best.
6. What problems regarding my menstruation should I see a doctor about?
- Your menstruation should last between 5-7 days and repeat within every 28-31 days. But if that isn’t the case, visit the doctor.
- If you are 15 years old and haven’t gotten your period. Some experts say that a woman can get her periods as late as when she is 18 and since it mostly depends on genetics, it can be that the women in your family are late bloomers. However, if you are still concerned, there’s no harm in consulting a doctor.
- If you have extreme pain that can’t be relieved by painkillers and experience very heavy bleeding, you should visit a gynecologist.
7. What changes will my body go through when my period starts?
Puberty is that phase when our bodies begin to grow and develop more adult-like features. The onset of puberty is marked by the growth of secondary sexual characters like the growth of breasts in a woman, hormonal fluctuations, pubic hair, changes in voice, height, etc. However, as an adolescent, one may also experience changes like the growth of acne, armpit sweat, and wider hips. If you have some concern regarding any of these changes, visit a gynecologist and get your doubts cleared or talk to an experienced member of the family.
As you come of age and transition into womanhood, things may appear a little nerve-racking, but keep in mind that whenever you feel overwhelmed with all the changes taking place in your body, you can always seek help. Talk to someone about what you're going through. This experience can be tough but remember, it matters. Period.