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What are the signs of my first period?

9 Common Questions People Ask About First Periods (and the Answers We Gave) We’ve got first period signs, symptoms and age, covered.

1. I’m bleeding from my vagina. Am I okay?

Hey, that’s okay. In fact, if you’re between the ages of eight and 18, then this is most likely your first period.

2. But this blood is… er, different? 

Period blood is made up of vaginal secretions, cervical mucus as well as endometrial tissue, which is why your period may appear different to the kind of blood you’re used to seeing. 

3. Wait, what is the menstrual cycle?

As we mentioned, the word “Period” is another word for menstruation, which is the bleeding that you are experiencing. The blood is a result of your uterus and its lining, a tissue called endometrium, maturing, which grows and is shed over the course of a single menstrual cycle. Menstruation then happens because the passage from your uterus and the cervix to your vagina has opened, and menstrual fluid – which looks a lot like blood — can now pass through.

 4. Then what is this brown stuff in my underwear?

In the days that lead up to your period, and in the days that follow it, you may experience what is known as spotting, or discharge. This discharge can be light red or even brown in colour. It’s nothing to be worried about and is perfectly normal. 

5. When will my first period start?

Many children wonder if they’re normal, especially if they’re the first or last in their class to see signs of puberty appearing. If you’re between the ages of eight and 18, then your period could start anytime really. Sometimes, a period can signal the start of puberty, but in other people, menstruation may come after boobs and pubic hair. You could notice signs of your first period at any point over this time. However, it's important to know that everyone is different, and you won't necessarily get your first period at the same age that your parent or sibling did. 

6. What are the signs that my first period is coming?

A menstruation checklist. 

  • Your breasts have begun to develop.
  • You’re seeing discharge in your underwear.
  • Your body is changing shape and size.
  • You have the beginnings of pubic hair on your groin and underarm hair.
  • Your body odour might be more noticeable.
  • Your hair is greasy. 
  • You may experience noticeable mood swings.
  • Pimples could appear on your face, chest, and back.
  • You may experience menstrual cramps in your stomach, groin, and lower back.

7. Back up, you menstruate every month?

Your first period is the start of your body preparing itself for a hypothetical pregnancy one day (and we say hypothetical, because whether or not you want to have children is entirely your choice). You’re most likely going to have between nine and twelve periods a year until you’re in your mid-fifties, or hit menopause, which is when your periods come to an end. 

8. It’s been three days. How long will my period go on for?

First periods, just like any other period, can vary from person to person in the amount of blood released or the length of the period, all of which is normal. While your best friend’s period might last two days, your period could last between five and seven days, and this is completely normal. In some cases, menstruation can even last as long as 10 days. Next time your period comes, make a note in your diary or on your phone, so that you can track your menstrual cycle. Eventually, if your period is kinda regular, you will probably be able to predict when the next one is coming, especially if you experience premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or menstrual pain.

9. When will I get my next period?

Once you're in a regular pattern, your period will arrive between 21-34 days later. But to begin with, around the time of your first period,  it could take longer than that. You might find that you have irregular periods for a while, and this is completely normal. It can take your body (and menstrual cycle) a little while to fall into its own regular pattern, so don’t be alarmed if you experience irregular bleeding or spotting at first.

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Frequently Asked Question: Teens & Puberty

What are tampons?

Most tampons are made from a cotton like material, which is compressed into a small cylinder shape. Tampons are worn inside your vagina to absorb menstrual fluid. There are two different types of tampon, known as applicator and non-applicator and these give you a choice about how you insert them.

Why is period blood different?

Menstrual blood is not the same as the blood you see when you cut yourself elsewhere on the body. Menstrual fluid lines the walls of your uterus and is called endometrium; this is a mixture of blood, tissue cells and natural secretions from the vagina and cervix and is not toxic or harmful in any way.

How long will I have periods for?

On average you can menstruate for up to 40 years, with 13 periods each year, that’s a whopping 520 periods in a lifetime! So now you can see why it’s important to understand your menstrual cycle and use the correct products for your flow.

How much blood is in a period?

It can look like there is an awful lot of blood being lost but don't worry! You’ll be surprised to learn that for people with an average menstrual flow, no more than 2.5 tablespoons or an egg cup full of blood is released each month.

What colour is a period?

Menstrual fluid is not always red in colour – it can vary from very light brown to dark red (almost black) and this is perfectly normal. Your period may be lighter in colour at the start or you may only experience a lighter colour on the last couple of days... It all depends on your individual flow!

Will my period stop if I go in water?

You may have heard the rumour that periods stop in water due to water pressure, or depending on how cold the water is and therefore you don’t need to use any protection at all. This is NOT TRUE, menstrual fluid is released when the muscles surrounding your uterus contract and they can do this anywhere and anytime, even in water. So make sure you're always protected - a tampon is the best option because it's worn internally.

What do I do with used tampons?

Don’t flush your used tampon down the loo! Instead roll it up in tissue and pop it in a bin in the toilets or with other household waste.

When am I going to get breasts?

Breast development can start from the age of 7 -15 with the average being around 9-13, so don’t worry if your friends start developing or wearing bras before you, we are all different and it’s not a competition!

Have more questions on puberty?

Got a question you’ve been too embarrassed to ask? Wondering if what you are experiencing when starting your period? 

Join our Lil-Lets Talk community to hear from teens just like you

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