Periods are a big deal, especially when you just start having one. Your first period is a rite of passage in your life. But that doesn’t mean it’s a comfortable time. If you aren’t sure how to handle it, it can be a confusing time too. It’s okay to have questions and wonder what’s going on down there. That’s why we’re here to help.
Your first period usually comes at a time when everything is changing. Your skin feels different and you’re likely experiencing a lot of hormonal changes too. Managing your first period is a big deal and we have answers for you right here. From what you need to how to cope, we’re going to cover it all. Here’s how to handle your first period.
When Is It Normal To Get Your First Period?
If you haven’t gotten your first period yet you’re probably wondering when to expect it. The truth is there’s quite a range of time when it’s normal to get your first period. It doesn’t happen at the exact same age or time for anyone. You really don’t have to worry too much if you haven’t gotten your period yet.
Typically you can expect your first period around the age of 12. However it’s normal to get your first period anytime between ages 10-15. Some experts say you can expect your period to start sometime about 2 years after your breasts start growing. If you have been using a training bra since around 4th grade, then 6th grade is a good time to start thinking about your first period.
This isn’t a hard and fast rule though so don’t stress too much. Your first period will happen when your body is ready. If you’re worried something is wrong it’s okay to ask your doctor about it. And remember that the other women in your life are a good resource too. Your mom, your aunts, or other adult women all have their own experiences to share with you as well.
What Products Are Best For Your First Period?
The truth is you can use any product you want and are comfortable with. Sometimes girls who have just gotten their first period don’t want to use tampons yet. That’s fine. You don’t have to. But don’t feel like you have to use pads. There are so many products out there. You can use whatever works for you.
This is another time you could talk with the other women in your life. What do they use? Ask them what they used for their first period. They’ll remember and be able to share tips with you. There are also new products out there that may not have been options for your mom or other adults in your life for their first period.
Things like period panties are newer and are an alternative to pads. They might even be more comfortable than pads at this point. It’s just all about whatever you feel best using. Having your period isn’t easy so make sure you’re using what you like. Don’t let other people shame you for choosing to use whatever makes you most comfortable.
Some brands out there even make first period kits. They include a variety of products and that means you can try out a bunch of different options. It gives you a chance to see what works and what doesn’t. You might have to order a first period kit online so talk with someone who can help you do that if you think that’s what you want.
Related: 5 Best Brands of Period Underwear On The Market
What If It Happens At School?
This is a totally normal worry to have. A lot of girls stress about what will happen if their first period comes at an inopportune time, like school. The truth is, that’s entirely possible. Periods don’t really care about convenience and some of us have to learn that the hard way.
There are a few things you can do if this happens to you. You can carry a few “just in case” items in your backpack. Pads or tampons are a great option. You might want to slip them into a carrying case of some kind so you can discreetly take them to the bathroom if the teacher doesn’t want you to take your backpack.
You can also visit your school nurse. Nurses who handle any girl at the age of menstruation are going to be ready for this situation. They will have pads ready for you. Since most girls don’t want to put in a tampon for the first time while at school, you may not be able to get a tampon from them. It just depends on the school and the nurse.
One other thing you can do is ask a female teacher or a friend. Some of your friends may have kits in their backpack, and some teachers are prepared for unexpected first periods too.
As a last resort, you can make a pad out of toilet paper or use a dispenser in the bathroom. To make a pad out of toilet paper just pull enough toilet paper off the roll. Fold it up and place it in your underwear. To use a dispenser you’ll probably need a quarter and will have the choice of a tampon or a pad.
Pads from a dispenser, or pads made of toilet paper may not be the most comfortable but they will do the job. Remember not to be embarrassed. This is all normal and you’re going to be able to handle it the best way you know how if this time comes.
What To Expect In The Future
In the future you might not get a period every month at first. Sometimes it takes a bit of time to get a regular cycle. If you think it’s taking too long then talk to your doctor. Don’t be embarrassed to bring things like this up with your doctor. It’s something that you’ll have to talk about a lot in your life. The sooner you can get more comfortable talking about it the better.
You may experience cramping or other pain during your period. It’s okay to take Tylenol or other pain relievers to help. You may also find that a heating pad helps a lot with cramps. It’s okay to do what works best for you. Remember that all of this is normal and don’t stress any more than you have to.
If you have questions use the adults in your life as much as possible. They will have answers and probably be happy to talk with you about any of your period questions. And remember you can find information online like this article if you’re feeling shy to ask questions directly.
Eventually this will all be familiar and you’ll be able to have a period and still feel mostly like yourself. Don’t worry about any of this for too long. You’ve totally got this.
Sarah Nelson is a nurse with 15 years of experience working with a variety of patients. She has a Masters of Science in Nursing and has spent a large portion of her career working exclusively with women in an OB/GYN setting.
Nursing is a passion for Sarah but she also enjoys writing and sharing her expertise online with people who need helpful information. Treating patients well and helping them learn more about their own bodies is a key essential to a healthy lifestyle that Sarah truly believes in.