beada11e3f74f05eThere’s a first time for everything, and getting your period is no exception. Getting your first period can be really exciting, but it can also be a bit scary. Here’s all you need to know to be prepared for the first time it happens.

When will I get my first period?
Your first period may come when you’re 9 or when you’re 16, or any time in between. Many girls take after their female relatives. For example, if your mother and sister both got their first periods when they were 12, you probably will too. It’s hard to know exactly when you’ll get your first period, but some things happen in your body to help you know you’re getting closer.

What are the signs that my body is ready to have a period?
Hormones are natural chemicals in your body that bring on puberty. You’ll notice that you’re getting taller and putting on some weight. Your hips will look rounder and your breasts will develop, too. Hair will start growing under your arms and in your pubic area. You’ll start having stronger odor under your arms. Your body will look less like a little girl’s body and more like a young woman’s body. These are all clues that hormones are working. Soon, you’ll get your first period.

Should I be worried about my period coming?
979a65ad86a96cb0Many girls are scared about their first period, because it’s something so new and different in their lives. Hopefully, before it happens, you’ll get a chance to talk about this with your mother, or a helpful older female relative, teacher, or friend. Or you might have already read some helpful books or articles.

Your first period doesn’t have to be scary at all. It’s a good idea to know where to get sanitary pads before you actually need them. You can buy them at markets or drugstores, or you can ask your mother or another relative at home to get them for you. You can also get pads from coin-operated machines in public restrooms. The school nurse often has pads for emergency use. Some girls keep a pad in a bag in their backpacks or lockers, just in case they get their first period at school.

Practice using a pad before you actually need it. Tampons are another option, but most girls don’t use them the first time they get their period.

Having your first period is a special confirmation that your female organs and hormones are working right. It is a private thing, too. Some girls tell an older sister or mother or best friend. Whoever you tell, let them know if you don’t want other people to know about it.

Will everyone know when I get my first period?
When you get your first period, there’s no sudden gush of blood that will leave a puddle in your seat at school or a trail as you run to the bathroom. The blood that comes out with your first period is usually a pretty light amount. You’ll probably only notice a small, brown stain on your underpants. But it’s important to put on a sanitary pad as soon as you notice that you have your period and use a pad or tampon every time you get it.

When will my periods get regular?
It can take up to two years from your first period to start having a predictable cycle. The older you are when you get your first period, the longer it can take to have a regular cycle. Your stress level, changing exercise patterns, or eating habits can also influence how regular your periods are. It’s very normal, especially at first, to have periods that don’t come regularly every month. For most girls, they’ll eventually settle down into a regular cycle.

Keep track on a calendar when you get your periods. From the first day of one period until the first day of the next one is one cycle. In time, the cycle settles into a fairly consistent number of days for most girls and women. If you know that you usually have 28 days between periods, for example, you can begin to predict when your period will come. It’s helpful to know when you’ll get your period so you can be prepared. You can have pads or tampons in your purse or locker to use, so accidents (like a stain on your jeans!) won’t happen.

Do I have to do anything different when I have my period?
Not really. Keeping yourself clean is a good idea all the time. It’s a good idea to take a shower or bath and use deodorant or antiperspirant every day. Some girls wear darker colored pants or skirts when they have their periods, just in case the pad leaks. It’s fine to continue with your usual activities when you have your period.