First Period: 10 Healthcare Tips Straight From the Experts

First Period: 10 Healthcare Tips Straight From the Experts

Jessie Wallace
By Jessie Wallace
For a young girl getting her period for the first time, it can be an uncertain time. It might be scary, exciting, embarrassing, and empowering. You've just reached another momentous step toward womanhood, but there's also a lot of things that are not so great. There are many who don’t feel comfortable talking about it and others who have no qualms about describing the intimate details. Every girl going through this will have questions, and you should. This is one of the biggest stages of development, so let’s go over 10 points of advice to help you navigate through this.

Don’t Be Scared to Ask Questions

I would hope that any young girl who is reaching puberty would have at least one older person in their life who has had this discussion with them, but this is not always the case. We live in a world where some still consider discussing periods to be taboo and some do not feel knowledgeable about the subject, even many adult women. It’s also hard on a guardian to realize just how old their child has become. While most girls start their period between the 1ages of 11 to 14, some will start as early as 8. Find someone who you trust and who you know will give you factual answers. There are still a lot of incorrect rumors about it, so it’s important to ask the right person or research reputable sources. This is an important part of your health to learn about, and your health is worth the effort.

Keep a Kit on Hand

Many women got their first period under less than ideal circumstances. You never know when it will start. Some get telltale cramps or bloating, but if you've never experienced those things before you won’t know it’s a sign of oncoming bleeding. Once you have reached an age when you can expect it to happen at any time, it’s a good idea to have a small kit of essentials. This can be as simple as an extra pair of underwear and a pad in a pocket of your backpack. Most women tend to keep a kit like this in their cars or purses for the occasional surprise shift in cycle, so it’s a common enough thing to do. Even if you are lucky and get your period in the comfort of your home or in another relaxed setting, many of us have been saved by another girl offering period protection. You could be able to come to the rescue of a friend because you were prepared.

It Will NOT Be Perfect

You’re going to bleed on things. You will ruin some clothing or bed sheets. It’s inevitable. Even adult women who have decades of experience with their cycle can’t stop the occasional leakage or surprise morning waking up to a big red mess. Don’t be embarrassed. This is not the same thing as wetting the bed or spilling a drink. Many girls feel that they should have a handle on the situation after their first period, but the fact is that 2for the first few years your cycle can be irregular and your symptoms can fluctuate. The only times you should be concerned enough to talk to a doctor is if your periods are so heavy that you’re bleeding through a pad or tampon every hour, your period lasts more than 7 days, or if you’re going more than 3 months without one or are having one more than every 3 weeks.

Keep Track of Your Cycle

As women, young and old, we should be keeping track of our cycles. Our menstruation is one of the best indicators of our overall health. Even though a girl getting her period for the first time might not have a regular cycle yet, it is important to get in the habit as early as possible. It can be easy to forget to use a Women’s Health Tracker, but once we reach adulthood it is essential to understand our bodies in this way. Starting early and sticking to it will help girls understand the importance of tracking and prioritizing their own health.

It’s Okay to Stay Within Your Comfort Zone

This time can be sensitive, and some are more private than others. While you should feel confident in talking to someone about your period and any concerns or questions you may have, you also shouldn’t feel pressure to tell anyone either. If you get it at school or at a party and you don’t want the world to know, there is nothing wrong with trying to be discreet. Simply tell your teacher or a close friend privately in order to excuse yourself. This also goes for the products that your use and the clothing you wear. 3Pediatrician Cara Natterson, MD suggests that girls who are new to the monthly visit stick to using pads. The concept of pushing a tampon applicator inside your body can be a daunting one, especially for a younger girl. Even though many girls eventually try tampons, and the more athletic individuals tend to prefer them, the 4majority of women still wear pads. Until your cycle is regular, you can’t know what size tampon you’ll need. It’s also helpful to look at diagrams of female anatomy to have a better understanding of how the tampon works before trying one. Whether you stick to pads or take the leap with tampons, you need to make sure you’re changing it every 4-6 hours to prevent an unpleasant odor and protect yourself from infections.

You Will Probably Feel a Bit Wretched

This decision making based on your comfort applies to clothing as well. We’ve all seen the commercials with smiling women going to a bike ride or meeting friends for lunch, even going to the pool all while supposedly wearing a pad or tampon. Don’t let that fool you. Most of us tend to feel like wearing an oversized sweatshirt instead of a light sundress on our periods, and that’s okay. Despite how it sometimes feels, periods don’t last forever. They only last up to 5 days of the month. If you want to be more comfortable during that time, no one will fault you. Yes, there is often bloating, acne, and moodiness. Many girls feel lowered self-esteem during PMS, which hits right before you start to bleed, but you’re not alone.

It’s Not All Bad

In many mainstream descriptions of periods, you see a girl eating a ton of chocolate and crying or she’s irritable and hostile toward those around her. You hear descriptions of backaches, cramps, and bloating. While this is true, we tend to focus entirely on the negative aspects of our cycles and not the positive ones. Your period is wonderful in many ways. It’s a clear sign that you are developing into a young woman. According to 5Cosmopolitan, it can indicate a lot about your health, and many women experience a boost in energy during their period. It is also something that ties us women together. It’s something we share, and though no two cycles are exactly alike, it’s something unique to womanhood.

Don’t Worry About All That Blood

Seeing those red stains can cause some anxiety in girls who haven’t experienced it before. After all, anytime you’ve bled in the past it’s been from an injury. On occasions when you leak or have to wait to change a pad or tampon, it can seem like there’s a lot. This is sometimes frightening when you don’t know how much is normal. It’s important to understand that it’s really not as much as it seems. 6A girl only loses a few tablespoons of blood each period. Those ads showing someone pouring a cup of liquid onto a pad is an exaggeration of what it’s really like. The blood you lose during your period always looks worse than it really is, partly because of the color. Period blood can be anywhere from bright red to dark brown, and it all stands out in contrast. You also need to remember that you’re not just losing blood, but tissue as your uterus is shedding the internal lining. This can look like blood clots and make it seem like more than it really is as well. The times you need to worry about how much blood you’re losing is if you’re going through a tampon or pad every hour or a heavy flow is coupled with bad cramping and dizziness.

No, a Tampon Will Not Get Lost

Earlier we discussed how using tampons can be in intimidating notion for a girl who has not or is still new to periods. Many girls are worried that the tampon will get stuck or lost inside their bodies. The chance of a tampon getting stuck is so small that you needn’t worry about it. There is nowhere for it to go. Tampons have strings attached to one end for easy removal and if that string is somehow disconnected or lost inside your vagina, the tampon can’t migrate to anywhere else. You will most likely still be able to reach it with your fingers. If one is forgotten about, that is a different situation. There is a chance it can bend or compress making it too difficult or painful to pull out yourself, in which case you should call a doctor to have them remove it. If a tampon is left in too long, it will increase the chance of Toxic Shock Syndrome developing.

Practice Self Care

Children are taken care of by adults. They are fed and cleaned and kept safe, but girls who are reaching puberty are beginning to care for themselves. It’s a transitional time when you’re learning who you are and how to do for yourself all the things your guardians do. The beginning of your period should also be the beginning of learning how to care for yourself in ways other than eating and sleeping. As discussed previously, you’re going to have those less than pleasant symptoms of your cycle, and 7many girls will suffer from the effects more than others. A few will find themselves faint or lightheaded. This is usually normal, but if it does happen it’s a good idea to get checked out by a doctor as it can be a sign of more serious conditions. Even if you’re just facing mild cramps and acne though, it’s worth the time to pamper yourself a bit. Put on a face mask and practice some meditation. Focus on eating healthier and maintaining an exercise routine. It will alleviate the negative symptoms and help your overall mood during this time.

This time of change is momentous in a girl’s life. It shows a new level of maturity and indicates that your body and mind are growing into that of a woman. With the proper support and guidance, every girl has the ability to make a stunning impact on the world we live in. It’s vital that we show young girls a unity and connection, and make sure they understand they are not alone during a time in their lives when much of the mainstream views are negatively impacting their own feelings of self-worth. If we show them that being a young woman is a positive thing, they will not be hindered in what they can accomplish.

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