What are periods, really?
Chances are, you’ve started to feel your body going through lots of changes. This is called puberty.
That’s when your body is changing from a child’s to an adult’s. One of the biggest changes you’ll experience is your period, when you start to bleed. If you’re feeling anxious about it, remember you’re not on your own. It’s something that every girl goes through. After a few months, we’re sure you’ll be taking your periods in your stride. But until then, we want to help you feel calmer and more prepared by answering some of the most commonly asked questions.
Did you know?
What is a period?
A period refers to the part of the menstrual cycle when a woman experiences bleeding from her vagina. It typically happens once a month, and lasts for a few days, however, it varies from person to person.
Why do girls have periods?
Periods begin when your body is mature enough to have a baby. Every month, the lining of your uterus (womb) gets thicker with tissue and your ovaries release an egg (called an ovum). If a sperm fertilizes the egg, the tissue stays where it is to help with pregnancy. But if the egg isn’t fertilized, your body sheds the tissue through the vagina. That tissue is the blood you see and this monthly process is called menstruation.
When will I get my period?
Most girls start getting signs of their first period and start menstruating between 11 and 14 years old, but it could happen any time between age eight and 16. Remember that everyone is different, so a normal age for your friends might not be the same for you. You’ll have periods until you’re around 50 years old when you start something called the menopause. That’s when your body stops menstruating and can’t have children any more.
What’s the average age to start your period?
The average age for starting periods is around 12 years of age, but that doesn’t mean that if you start before or after this age that you should worry! It can be difficult, especially if your friends have already started their periods and you haven’t yet. Everyone starts when their own body is ready, and there is no way to change when you will start.
What are the signs of your first period?
You know those changes we were talking about? If you’ve felt your breasts growing larger, if you’ve started growing pubic hair and if you’ve noticed a white discharge in your underwear, then it won’t be long before your body experiences its first period. When it starts, you might also experience premenstrual syndrome (PMS). This causes symptoms like period pain (cramps in your tummy), moodiness, bloating, backache, weight gain and skin break outs.
What does your first period look like?
When you first start your period, it may only be light (meaning a small amount) and pink, brown or black in colour. On heavy days, period blood tends to be bright red and can include menstrual clots – these are just gel-like blobs made of blood cells, tissue from the lining of the uterus and proteins that are found in blood.
How long does your first period last?
The average time to bleed is between four or five days, but your period could last from three to eight days. Again, everyone’s different. Your period is part of your menstrual cycle, which starts on day one of bleeding and ends the day before your next period begins. The average cycle is 28 days but it may be shorter or longer.
How much period blood is normal?
It might seem like there’s a lot of blood, but it’s probably no more than two to three tablespoons. It’s normal to bleed more heavily in the first few days of your period.