Getting your first period can be a tricky topic to navigate, but it doesn't have to be! Your menstrual cycle is as normal and as natural as the sun in the sky. Despite what rumours might be floating around the halls, there is no need to be embarrassed or afraid. The best way to be ready for your first menstrual period is to understand what you're working with, what are period symptoms, and which products to use when the big day arrives. We're here to help prepare you for puberty and the signs and symptoms of your first period.
Having your period is a very normal but, understandably, nerve-wracking part of growing up. It's totally normal if you're feeling worried or scared before you've had your first period —after all, this is a brand new experience!
Talking about your menstrual cycle
Your menstrual cycle is a completely normal bodily function, and it is also completely normal to talk about. Periodt! However, we know you may not feel comfortable chatting about your period with just anyone right from the start, and it's always important to do what makes you feel comfortable. When talking about your period for the first time, consider talking to someone you trust to guide you through your questions.
If you're feeling like more of a researcher than a discusser for some of your questions, we got you! Check out some of our guides, such as how to use a tampon. Keep on readin' on for some tips on "how-to'' your first period, and download our free period guide for even more information.
What is a period?
Let's start from the beginning! Menstrual cycles are part of the natural process of preparing a body for pregnancy. Your ovaries release an egg each month and if that egg isn’t fertilized, the lining of your uterus will shed menstrual blood, resulting in your period!
A lot of people, places, and publications use different words and euphemisms to talk about the menstrual cycle. If you see any of these–time of the month, Aunt Flo, etc.–they’re usually discussing your period.
Is period slang a thing? Yes. Do we like to use them here on the rag? No. Periods are normal, there's no need to disguise it! Learn more about other period slang and euphemisms, and why we don't like to use them.
How to manage your period
There are several different products that can help you manage your period blood. In most cases, it all comes down to personal preference.
Period Underwear: Our period underwear for teens is a great way to manage your menstrual flow, stay dry (thanks to its moisture-wicking and odour preventing properties), and feel comfortable with minimal effort.
Menstrual Cup: Menstrual cups are another eco-friendly way to manage your period. Menstrual cups are a great combo to pair with period underwear, but they may take a few tries to learn how to use. You can learn how to use a menstrual cup here.
Pads: Similar to period underwear, pads are an easy approach to managing your period. For an eco-friendly option, check out our reusable pads.
Tampons: A period classic. Tampons are a commonly used period product that also can be paired with our period underwear. Tampons may also take some practice and getting used to. Learn more on how to insert a tampon. Make sure to always change your tampon at least every six hours to avoid toxic shock syndrome.
Birth control pills: Birth control pills can help regulate and manage the physical symptoms of periods. Talk to your doctor to learn more about birth control pills, and if they are right for you.
Signs your period is coming and symptoms you may experience
Bodies go through some major changes when puberty hits–like getting your first period (or your first few periods). However, there are a ton of other hormonal changes that will happen around this time, too. While your first period won't send you a notification to let you know it's coming (rude), there are some common signs to look out for:
1) Breasts and chest enlargement: Development in your chest area will typically be the first hint that puberty is starting. They can take up to four years to fully develop. Your period usually comes one to two years after breasts begin developing.
2) Pubic Hair: Around the same time as your breasts start growing, you will most likely start to grow pubic hair. Your period will typically arrive one or two years after you start to grow pubic hair.
3) Discharge: Vaginal discharge (which is white or yellowish in colour and completely normal) means your period is on its way! If you’re noticing some new substances in your underwear that’s definitely thicker than pee, no need to panic. This is a sign from your body that changes are happening, and your period will most likely start in a few months.
Everybody is different, and, therefore, so is everyone’s reaction to their period. Lots of people who get periods experience mild to intense cramps in their lower abdomen or back, or sometimes both. If you do feel them, there are many ways of relieving the pain, both natural and with medication. Try exercising, using a heating pad, herbal remedies, or talking to your parents/guardian about taking ibuprofen or Motrin.
There’s also premenstrual syndrome– also known as PMS. PMS can involve uncomfortable bloating before or during your period, tender or swollen breasts, and irritability/mood swings. It can also take the shape of cravings– like sweets or salty treats. Everyone's experience is different and you might not experience PMS until well into your teens or early adult years.
Typically, once your period starts, your tender breasts and bloating will go away. Physical symptoms aside, you may experience sudden mood swings. Suddenly, everything bothers you and you don’t know why, or you might find yourself more tired or emotional than usual, tearing up at random things, and crying over commercials. While this may feel unusual and alarming, no need to panic. It's just your period doing its natural period thang. It may not feel like it at the time, but trust us, it's all good.
When will I get my first period?
While we can't give you a specific answer, we can provide a time frame. It's common for your first period to begin after you have all the signs of puberty (breasts, pubic hair, and discharge). Some people can get their first period as early as 8 years old and or as late as 16 years old. (The average age for is 11 to 14 years old.) Of course, these are just averages. Everyone is different and what may be the norm for one body may be totally different for another. For more information on when you will get your first period, read here!
If you have any concerns about the timelines of your period, talk to your doctor.
Extra reading: Can you make your period come faster?
What will my first period look like?
When you first get your period, it will most likely be brownish-red. It might come as a shock to see blood in your panties for the first time, but it's normal. Your flow likely won’t be very heavy at this time, so a light period or spotting is fairly common for your first period. Click here for more info on the colour of period blood and what it means.
How long will my period last and how much blood do I lose?
A person’s first period typically won't last very long. It may be very light, and it's common to experience irregular periods for the first year or two. Your body is adjusting to a new normal. After this stage, periods typically last from three to seven days.
It might look like you’re losing a lot of blood, but it’s usually only a few teaspoons at the beginning and around three to five tablespoons once you’ve been menstruating for a few years.
Remember: This is your uterine wall shedding, so in addition to liquid blood, you may experience a few “chunks.” These are blood clots and they are also completely normal. If you experience watery grey discharge or bleed for longer than seven days, be sure to speak with your family doctor
How often will I get my period?
A typical menstrual cycle is 28 days long, (meaning you will likely get it once per month) but this can vary from person to person and it is normal for yours to be irregular for the first few years.
There are many ways of tracking your period. You can mark it on your calendar, download Kt's printable period tracker or use a period tracker app. Click here for our blog post all about the best tracking apps.
Will anyone know I am on my period?
Nope! That is, unless you tell them. The best way to avoid period leaks is by having a period emergency kit on hand. (Or make sure you’re wearing a pair of period underwear for teens.)
Kt by Knix makes leakproof period undies that can and help you feel more comfortable and confident about getting your period– especially if you’re nervous about the first time. Our period panties are available in a variety of absorbency levels, including SUPER. They're about to be your period BFF, so you can bleed confidence.
Remember, your period is a natural part of life – it may feel strange at first, but over time you'll know exactly what to do and what works best for your body.
Disclaimer: Everyone is different, so if you have questions or concerns, please contact your doctor.
To download the guide in Canada, click here.