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My First Period: What To Expect

Discover everything you need to know about your first period. From product suggestions to mental preparation, we have you covered.

So, you’ve started to see a few changes to your body and maybe even how you feel! We bet your next question is  “When will I get my first period?!”. It can be hard to know exactly what to expect and when it might come. So we’re here to chat through some of the most pressing questions you might have about your first period. 

Firstly, periods are a great sign that your body is working just as it should and that you’re on your way to becoming a young adult. However, we know it can be a really confusing time with so much going on, and we want you to feel comfortable and confident as you start this new journey. 

Signs my first period is coming

There are plenty of signs that will give you a clue that your period may not be too far away. Here are some of the most common ones: 

  • You’re noticing breast development 
  • You’re seeing  vaginal discharge in your underwear 
  • Your body is showing signs of puberty like changes in shape and height 
  • You have the beginnings of pubic hair on your groin and underarm area. 
  • Pimples and spots may be starting to appear on your face, chest, and back. 
  • You may be experiencing mood swings.
  • You may experience cramps in your stomach, groin, and lower back. 

When and what should I expect on my first period?

Your first period, also known as ‘menarche’, is an exciting milestone that marks the beginning of your menstrual journey. Typically, you will get your first period between 8 - 18 years old, this will be different for everyone with the average age around 12-13 years of age.  

A period does not come at a certain time of day and can arrive during the day or night and for many the first time they even know it’s here is when they visit the toilet and notice either blood on toilet tissue, or in their underwear. Little tip here, ‘it pays to be prepared’.

We’re all different and some of you will notice a very light period for just a day or two and others a little heavier, and a little longer.

What to do when you get your first period?

When you get your first period, be sure to tell someone; a parent, someone who cares for you, or another trusted adult….even a teacher, because yes, first periods can start in school too! 

As we’ve said it good to be prepared and we think as soon as you start to notice breast development and discharge you should have period supplies to hand, both at home and in your school bag.

We know this is a big deal, and for some can even be a little embarrassing, like getting your first bra! Which is why you may want to check out pads and liners designed for teens and even pre-teens! You can even pick up a starter kit that has all you need in a pretty bag with a handy booklet containing lots of tips.

It’s also good to know how top use period products and you can learn how to put on pads or insert a tampon by following the package instructions and following these video links. 

At this time, you should also take care of your body by practising good intimate hygiene and changing your period products regularly (every 4 to 8 hours is about right).  Be sure to wash this area daily to remove any residue of your period from your pubic hair and vulva (it can be a bit smelly if you don’t). 

Remember, your first period is a normal part of growing up and you've got this! 

How long will my first period last?

First periods can vary from person to person, and how long your period lasts for, how much blood is lost and how long in between periods will be unique to you. Whilst your best friend’s period might last 2 days, your period could last between 5 and 7 days. In some cases, menstruation can even last as long as 10 days and still be considered normal.

For some, periods can be regular from the very start arriving every month, and anything from 21-34 days is a standard gap between periods, once regular. But for most, first periods will be erratic often with long, and even short gaps in between them, and it’s a good idea to keep track of what’s going on. When your period arrives, make a note in your diary, or on your phone, so that you can track your cycle and over time you should be able to predict when the next one is coming, and best of all be prepared. 

Why is my first period so heavy?

Experiencing a heavy flow during your first period is not as unusual as you may think. It's important to remember that your body is going through a significant change, and it may take some time to establish a regular pattern. The heavy period could be due to a surge in hormone levels, an immature or irregular menstrual cycle, or the shedding of a thicker uterine lining.  Don’t panic, it may not always be this way and as your body adjusts and your menstrual cycle becomes more regulated, the flow may naturally become lighter.

What’s a normal colour for my period to be?

The simple answer is anything from pink, to brown to bright red is all perfectly okay and normal. Here we explain in a little more detail why you may see a change in colour from day to day.

  • Pink: often noticed as your period starts and can be mixed with discharge to give this lighter colour.
  • Bright Red: this is newly produced blood and has not been sitting in the uterus for very long, often noticed on your heavier days.
  • Dark Red: Often a sign of a heavier flow that has been waiting to exit the vagina and sometimes accompanied with blood clots.
  • Brown: This can be one of two things, older blood that was made earlier on in your cycle and has been around for a while, or red blood mixed with discharge at the end of your period.

First periods can be a mix of any of these colours and can vary from day to day, or as your hormone levels change and a more regular cycle starts to be noticed.

I got my first period, but not my second

Experiencing irregular periods or absent periods (amenorrhoea), especially after your first one, is quite common. When you first start menstruating, your body is still adjusting to its natural rhythm, and it can take time for your menstrual cycle to become regular, so don’t worry if you find that you only have 2 or 3 periods a year for the first few years.


I just got my first period: closing thoughts

We know starting your period can be a daunting time, often made worse by bulky and unsuitable products. So, we’ve designed our teen’s period product range for younger girls to use during the first couple of years. Feel comfortable and confident, even when you’re on your period. And if you’re looking for sustainable options, we also offer our Teens eco pads. 

Finally, lots of people worry about a first period, but once it’s arrived and if you’re prepared you’ll wonder what all the fuss was about and realise a period does not, and should not get in the way of going about your day as normal.


Buy products for your first period from our teen’s range

Frequently asked questions

When exactly will I get my first period?

No one can accurately predict when a first period will arrive, the average age is between 12-13, but anything from 8-18 is okay too. 

Should I be scared for my first period?

It's normal to feel a mix of emotions, including excitement and a bit of nervousness, especially if friends and family have shared stories of their first time. But we are all different and if you educate yourself on this topic, you will embrace this milestone with confidence. 

What happens after I get my first period?

Your body will have already been preparing your reproductive system for the release of an egg for ovulation for quite a while now, even before your first period arrived!  And now you have menstruated for the first time, it will start working out the right monthly cycle just for you. Be patient this can take a while and you may find a second one does not arrive at exactly the same time the following month, this is because your body is still developing in so many ways, and the hormones making these changes can take a while to settle down and form a regular pattern.

What pads should I use for my first period?

You might want to consider using pads specially designed for teens and pre-teens when you get your first period. Lil-Lets offers pads for light to heavy flow, and night pads for when you sleep, and because they are shorter and narrower for smaller bodies they provide fabulous comfort and protection suitable for not only your first period, but for many more periods after.

Why am I not getting my first period?

We are all different and our journey through puberty will be too, so firstly don’t compare your journey to family or friends.  A first period can arrive anytime between the ages of 8-18, however there are some exceptions, for example if you’re very athletic and take part in sports, this can sometimes delay the arrival of a period.  Being severely underweight can also have an impact on first periods and for some genetics will play a part. 

If by the age of 16 you have not experienced any of the signs of puberty, such as breast development, pubic or under arm hair and your period is also not here, you may want to have a chat to your doctor about why this could be.

Will my first period be heavy?

First periods can be light or heavy, short or long, no one can really predict this!  And even if your flow is heavy initially this can change in the future too. The great news is that there will always be a product that can manage even the heaviest of flows.

Does your first period hurt?

Most people don’t even know their first period has arrived, but for some there may be discomfort in the lower abdomen and back, this is caused as the muscles surrounding the uterus contract to release menstrual fluid. The level of pain varies for each individual, keeping active is generally the best way to alleviate this discomfort, but if you find the period pain to be severe or significantly impacting your daily life, it's advisable to discuss it with a your parents, or the person who cares for you and they may consider offering you pain relief medication (only ever to be taken under adult supervision), or popping you along to your doctor for a chat.

Why am I bleeding so much on my first period?

Did you know even though it looks like a lot of blood is being released in general it’s only about an eggcup full each month…we were surprised too! For those with a heavier flow this can increase, but generally it’s the colour of the blood against the pad that can make it look like a lot of blood has been released.

If however you find you are having to change your pad every 1-2 hours because it is completely full, you may want to speak to your parents or guardian as this may need checking out.

How long do I have discharge before my first period?

Vaginal discharge is the body’s way of keeping the vagina clean and free from infection and arrives around 6-12 months before a first period, it’s one of the best indicators that your period is not too far away.

Can I use a tampon on my first period?

Even though there is no hard and fast rule for when you should start to use tampons, it’s sometimes a good idea to use pads until you understand your flow and cycle, especially for the first few periods you have, and when they can be so irregular.

Can I make my first period come?

You cannot make your first period come — it’s a natural process controlled by hormonal changes in your body. At this time, your oestrogen and progesterone levels are changing. Focus on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, practising self-care and being patient. 

Does brown discharge mean my first period is coming?

Lots of people think brown fluid is discharge, but its far more likely to be your first period and a result of older blood created earlier in the body, or new blood mixed with discharge. 

Why do I have brown discharge before my first period?

Whilst for many there is a set order for the signs of puberty, some will get their period without warning and without any other signs being seen.


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