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First period

In general, the puberty and the menstrual cycle are genetically and hormonally determined and different girls can have different development. In different countries periods are starting at 10-17 (depending on physical development, hormones, genetics, country location, etc). It is very personal and pre-menstrual “signals” (strange discharges, breast tense, abdomen pain-so called menstrual cramps, etc.) can come 1-2 days or 2- 3 months or 11-12 months in advance. Some girls don’t have any pre-menstruation “signals”. It depends how
sensitive are you and how fast your hormones will jump up. Just don’t be stressed because stress itself could make a delay. Everything has it’s time. If you would not have your cycle up to 17 – better visit your doctor.

First period usually occurs about two years after your breasts develop (thelarche) and between 4 and 6 months after the growth of your pubic and underarm hair.

You will probably feel some moderate symptoms when you first get your period. You may notice that you feel bloated or uncomfortable – this is caused by water that your body retains during menstruation. Other signs of menarche include a slight headache, leg ache or backache for a few hours. The most common symptom of menarche is cramping.

Puberty - first period

Puberty – first period

You may feel abdominal cramping, similar to a stomachache for the first few days of your period. Try taking an over-the-counter pain medication, such as Advil or Tylenol, for the pain OR some natural remedies. You may notice some emotional changes too before your period. You may feel tense, angry, or sad because of the hormones your body is releasing. Don’t get too discouraged. These symptoms won’t last long.

If you already had your first period – Congratulations! You are becoming women.

What are periods?

When girls become sexually mature and their bodies become capable of carrying a baby, they begin to produce female sex hormones. These are naturally occurring chemicals that control the development of breasts, the growth of pubic and armpit hair and also control periods. Menstruations, or periods, are times when a girl or woman bleeds naturally from the vagina. Periods are a sign of health and show that the body is functioning as it should.
It is a good idea for a girl to talk to her mother about periods, or if this seems difficult or is not possible, she might prefer to speak to a sister, a cousin or someone else she feels comfortable talking to.

What happens in the body during a period?

The female reproductive organs inside a girl’s body comprise:

  • the ovaries, which produce eggs and hormones;
  • the fallopian tubes, which connect the ovaries to the uterus;
  • the uterus (womb), a muscular organ where the egg can attach itself once it has been fertilized by a male sperm cell when pregnancy occurs;
  • the cervix or neck of the womb, which connects the uterus to the vagina;
  • the vagina starts at the bottom of the cervix and is the passage that leads outside the body. It does several things. It leads the blood out of the uterus and away from the body. The vagina is also the opening into which the man puts his penis during sexual intercourse and the channel through which a child is born.

When a girl reaches puberty – her hormones become active. A hormone called oestrogen is made in the ovaries. Oestrogen affects the lining of the womb (endometrium) and makes it grow and develop. After 10 to 14 days, the ovaries release an egg, and begin to produce another hormone called progesterone.

The egg has now moved from the ovary to the uterus through the Fallopian tube. If the egg has not been fertilized by a sperm – the production of progesterone stops. When that happens, the lining of the womb comes away with a little blood and the girl gets her monthly period. The entire process takes about 28 days.

When expect the first period?

Your first menstrual period is referred to as menarche. Most girls get their first period when they are 10 to 17 years old. The average age is 12-13 years. Women continue to have periods until they are 45 to 55 years old when the menopause occurs. During pregnancy usually periods stop.

How often girls and women menstruate?

Periods happen about once a month. They last for four to seven days after which there is a pause of about 23 days (three weeks or so) until the next period, although the menstrual cycle varies from one girl to another (24- 37 days). Average duration of the menstrual cycle is 28 days. In some girls it may be longer or shorter than 28 days or it may be irregular, especially in the first few months after they have started.

It is a good idea to note the days your period occurs in a diary or menstrual calendar. This will make it easy to see exactly how many days there are between periods and makes it possible to work out when to expect your next period. It will be easy also to see correlation between days of the menstrual cycle and different symptoms and feelings.

It is practical and reassuring to know that there are menstrual products (pads, tampons, cups, etc.) and sanitary towels ready in the bathroom or bedroom to prepare for a first period. When a period begins, a sanitary pad is simply placed in the underwear to absorb the blood. It is also a good idea to have a sanitary towel in a school bag, just in case a period begins while you are at school.

When a girl begins her period, she usually discovers it by noticing blood on her underwear or on toilet paper after drying herself. She may also feel some cramping pain or discomfort in her lower abdomen.


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