First Period: What You Might Expect

by Kelly Wickham
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You might be wondering about your first period. You might even be a little nervous about asking someone. It's fine to wonder and very natural to want to know what it is that your body is doing. Trust me, I understand. I've been there.

When I was 10, I read Judy Blume's book Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret. I asked my mother about getting her first period. She told me that she was 10 when it happened, and that she didn't know anything about it when she got it, despite the fact that she had an older sister. I'm still grateful to that book because it made me feel like I wasn't going through it alone, and that it was okay to talk about getting my period.

Most girls get their first period somewhere between the ages of 9 and 16. Once you've reached approximately 100 pounds and have been developing breast buds, you're likely to begin having your period. Quite typically, you may also experience some sort of vaginal discharge prior to actually starting.

Your period can begin anywhere at any time. When you consider how much time you spend away from home, you might not be there when it starts. So I'd suggest that you prepare yourself now by putting a couple of pads or tampons in your purse or backpack. And if you find that you are unprepared when the time comes, don't worry. You can always ask a school nurse or another trusted female at school. They'll understand, because they've experienced it, too.

Many girls are more comfortable using a pad for their first time, but you can also use a tampon if you prefer. Pads are easy to use and will help you feel protected. Use of either kind of product will take some practice, but once you've done it for a while you'll be a pro. Remember that during your period you can still be as active as you usually are, including playing sports. If you like to swim, however, I would suggest you use a tampon instead of a pad.

The first period is often very light and can show up in your underwear as a brownish, sticky stain or a few drops of red blood. The number of days can really vary, although if it's more than 9 days you should probably check with your healthcare provider. Most menstrual cycles range between 21 and 45 days, with 28 being the average.

All of the changes that your body is going through will be new and sometimes exciting and other times scary. But you are now armed with the knowledge you need to go forth and have this experience - because it's going to happen anyway. You might as well be prepared for it when it comes. And hey, congratulations! Welcome to a new part of your life.



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