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Getting to Know Your Period

by Dr. Staci Tanouye

OB/GYN Dr. Staci Tanouye answers frequently asked questions about periods.

Fact: Everyone with a period will have a cycle that is uniquely their own.

Another fact: Get to know yours! The more you know, the better you can prepare and feel comfortable
talking about your period. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions that I get from
my patients:

How Do I Prepare for My Period?

The best way to prepare for your period is to carry around a period kit (period products including U by
Kotex® pads and liners), spare underwear and a pain reliver. Some additional items you could add to
your kit include:

  • Plastic bag for soiled underwear
  • Cleansing wipes or hand sanitizer

First Period – What Should I Expect?

First things first, take a deep breath. It will be OK!

When puberty starts, your body will start to give off signals that your period is coming, beginning
anytime between 9 and 15 years of age (12, on average). These signs will come in the form of different
bodily changes, such as your breast size and shape, pubic hair development, hips widening and vaginal
fluid secretion.

Your first period may be between two to seven days, and common symptoms during a period include
cramping in your lower abdomen, breast tenderness, diarrhea or nausea, dizziness and lower backache.
While uncomfortable, a heating pad and over-the-counter pain relief medication can help alleviate

For more on what exactly to expect on your first period, check out the First Period Guide and take a look
at this article!

It’s Here. How Do I Talk to My Parents About It?

It’s going to feel a little awkward at first, but remember what you’re going through is a completely
natural part of life and your parents know that!

We’ve shared some tips for what to keep in mind and how to get the conversation started here.

How Do I Get More Comfortable Talking About My Period in General?

This is easier said than done, but the only way to get comfortable talking about your period is to talk
about it.

Period stigma still exists, but the fastest way to eliminate the shame is reminding people that it’s not
taboo to talk about a normal bodily process. Half the population gets a period for 40 years in a lifetime
(on average). That’s a long time to avoid talking about something that affects you once a month!

If you’re not ready to talk openly about your period, follow people who are actively working to shatter
the stigma.

Author Summary:  Staci Tanouye, MD, OB-GYN is a physician in a private practice and an expert in
adolescent health, sexual health, reproductive health, and menopausal health. She has become one of
the leading gynecologists on social media with the mission to educate women and all people with vulvas
to love their bodies through knowledge and empowerment.

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This is not intended to be medical advice. Everybody is different so please make sure to consult your physician if you're having issues. Do not delay or refrain from seeking professional medical advice from your physician because of something you have read on this site.