- Step 1: Know the basics Somewhere between 8 and 14, you’ll start to go through puberty, a process where your body matures. If you’re a girl, part of puberty is getting your period, also known as menstruation. Once a month, your uterus will shed a mix of blood and tissue that will exit your body through your vagina. On average, a period lasts for 3 to 7 days each month.
- TIP: Everyone’s different, so you may be older or younger than the average age range when you first start menstruating. Your period may also last for a slightly longer or shorter time.
- Step 2: Understand the cycle Each month, your ovaries release an egg that travels through your fallopian tubes to your uterus. While this is happening, the lining of your uterus thickens. If a sperm fertilizes the egg, it can attach itself to that thickened lining and begin to grow into a baby. If the egg isn’t fertilized, there’s no need for the extra lining, so your body sheds it.
- TIP: The first day of your period also counts as Day 1 of your menstrual cycle, which usually lasts between 28 and 30 days, but can take as many as 45 days.
- Step 3: Watch for physical signs Be on the lookout for physical signs. If you’ve started developing breasts, curves, & pubic hair, your period isn’t far away. In the days leading up to it, you might start experiencing discomfort: stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, bloating, headaches, or mood swings. These are all completely normal symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, and may also continue during your period.
- TIP: Common over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen can reduce the symptoms of PMS.
- Step 4: Get some supplies Once you have an inkling the big event is on its way, start carrying some thin maxi pads, pantiliners, or tampons—and a spare pair of underwear—with you wherever you go.
- TIP: Using a tampon for the first time can be tricky. Don’t be afraid to ask an adult or an older friend about it before trying to insert one.
- Step 5: Know how to recognize it When your period finally arrives, it may be a lot less dramatic than you expected. You’ll probably see some light spotting—just a few drops of blood—or a brown stain in your underwear.
- TIP: Mark the start and end of your period on a calendar. After a few months, you’ll be able to measure how long your cycle is—and predict within a day or two when your next one will start.
- Step 6: Avoid swimming Unless you use tampons, avoid swimming. Maxi pads are designed to absorb liquid, so they swell like a balloon the minute they hit the ocean or pool.
- Step 7: Talk to someone Don’t hesitate to get any lingering questions answered by talking to someone you’re comfortable with. Your mom, a close female friend or relative, a school nurse or counselor, or even one of your parents’ friends can provide great help and guidance.
- FACT: Girls usually weigh a minimum of 100 pounds before they start menstruating.
You Will Need
- Basic knowledge of the female body
- Some thin maxi pads
- or tampons
- An extra pair of underwear