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Whether you’re six months pregnant, in menopause or about to start your period, chances are, you feel the same way about one thing. And that one thing is hormones. And what you probably think is that they suck. And we concur.
Hormones can do a lot of things, and one of those things is that they can make you irritable. Combined with growing boobs and a period, and your mood radar is just *screaming* annoyed. But besides being agents of chaos, hormones play an important role in developing your body as you grow older. One of their jobs is to jump start your first period. And yet, once you’ve started menstruating, it’s almost like the advice columns fall away and you’re just supposed to get on with it. But get on with period pain, mood swings, and spotting — how?
Buy the sanitary products you need. Depending on how old you are when you get your first period, you may want to start using sanitary pads at first. Lil-Lets pads are ideal for your first period. Ask your parent, guardian, or relative to buy you some. You’ll need to change your pad every two to five hours. As you get older, and more comfortable with using different products, you can try out tampons.
Before you go to bed, you might want to switch to a specially designed night pad, as this will give you the extra protection you need when you move around in your sleep. These can be changed when you wake up the next morning.
Here’s the thing. Your period is with you for the long haul (it’s loyal like that) and while you might not be the best of friends just yet, with a little time, you can get to grips with monthly menstruation. Take note of the symptoms that you experience each month:
These are some questions to think about when menstruating. Before you know it, you’ll have a pretty strong idea when you’re about to begin and when your period is tapering off.
We just mentioned tapering off, which might sound confusing in the context of your period. Well, here’s the thing: while pop culture and movies might make periods seem like one constant stream of menstrual fluid that is consistent in colour, texture, and volume, the truth is that your flow has phases. You are more likely to experience light bleeding at first, which will get heavier until it peaks, often on day two or three, after which it will get lighter and lighter, until it’s ended. This is why you might use a range of menstrual products with different levels of absorbance over a single period.
In fact, you may want to try out pantyliners, which are basically like lighter pads, until you know your flow a little better. Pantyliners are helpful on days when you’re unsure if you’re going to get your period or not, and are great to wear when you are experiencing a lot of discharge, especially when it’s ruining your underwear.
You wouldn’t expect the most of yourself if you have back ache or a sore knee, so give yourself room to breathe when you’re on your period, especially if you experience period pain. Menstrual pain can occur in your abdomen, stomach and lower back. Sometimes, if your period pain is severe, you may experience cramping in your upper thighs, too. Your period pain may also be accompanied by an upset tummy (yay, period stomach)
It can be difficult to discern whether or not your period pain is serious, especially when everybody else seems to cope with theirs. But if you find that your period pain, or dysmenorrhea, is so severe that you struggle to cope at school, play sport or even get up in the morning, then it’s a good idea to chat to your guardian about seeing a doctor or speaking to someone at your local clinic. While you might just be prone to painful periods, it’s important to rule out any underlying health conditions that can cause dysmenorrhea, such as fibroids, endometriosis and PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome).
Everyone is unique, so you might experience hormonal changes at different times or even in a different order to your friends. For most people, puberty starts around the ages of 10 or 11, but it can start as early as eight years old. While PMS (premenstrual syndrome) is usually characterised by moodswings and general grumpiness, it’s nothing to make light of. Just because your hormones are the culprit behind your tears, tantrum or anger, doesn’t make your emotions, or mood swings, feel any less real, or less valid.
If you’re beginning to struggle with your moods, to the point when your pmsing might be becoming more serious, tell your guardian or someone you trust immediately. PMDD (Premenstrual dysphoric disorder) is a serious but treatable condition in which you experience extreme sadness, anxiety, depression or rage during the course of your period. If you suspect that you are experiencing PMDD symptoms, it would be a good idea to chat to your doctor or a healthcare professional at your clinic.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
Got a question you’ve been too embarrassed to ask? Wondering if what you are experiencing when starting your period?
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