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February 11, 2021
First periods can be daunting, especially when it’s all new and not something you’ve had to worry about or deal with before. Once you get to know your body and your preferences for managing your period, things should get a heap easier. Don’t sweat, Moxette – we’ve got all the things for (first) period peace-of-mind. Here are some of the basics you need to know…
Generally speaking, people who are born with female reproductive organs will experience a period, though some people may experience rare medical issues which will cause them to NOT experience a period, even if they are born with female sex organs. It's important to note though that there are some people who do have periods that do not necessarily identify as women (for example, some people who identify as male or non-binary might experience menstrual bleeds, too!).
Firstly, we need to say that everyone is going to be different - so don't sweat too much if your friends have their period and you don't yet, or if you were the first out of your group to get it. The average age for the onset of menstruation is around 10 or 11 years old, but anywhere between the ages of 8 and 16 is also considered normal.
There are a few tell-tale clues that your first period is on the way soon. This process is referred to as puberty, and it's basically when your body goes from being a kid to an adult. Here are some things to look out for:
Discharge is a sign of puberty and usually the sign of a healthy vagina, Moxette - and, also a sign that your period may be on the way soon (though this could range from a few months, to a year or two).
Discharge, a mucus-like fluid that comes from your vagina, might be clear and stretchy, or more white-ish, and you might notice it most days on your undies. It's actually your vaginas way of cleaning itself and keeping it healthy and infection free, so whilst it's ok to wipe it away when you go to the loo, don't try to use soap to get rid of it or clean out the inside of your vagina, as this in itself may lead to infection.
If you notice any itching, burning when you pee or any change in your discharge (like the colour or texture), talk to a trusted adult and make an appointment to see your Dr.
A lot of us think that our first period is going to come gushing out of our vaginas in a big rush of blood. Whilst we have seen it happen before, it’s seems a lot rarer than what more commonly tends to happen, which is just a bit of spotting (which, the first time, usually looks like pink or brown discharge). You will likely experience the symptoms of puberty prior to when you get your first period, which are a sign that your period is on the way - your breasts/chest will start to develop, you might get acne, you'll start to get body hair in places you didn't before (underarms and pubic area) and you'll likely grow taller, too!
Period flow comes in all kinds of shades - from light pink, to bright red, to brown - and it won't look like regular blood from a cut. Period flow is a mix of blood, cerical fluid and tissue from the lining from your uterus, so it might sometimes look a bit more textured or clumpy than normal blood.
Your first period might start off as some light spotting that might be light pink, or it might be darker brown. Light pink usually happens right at the beginning, and your flow will likely change to a darker red throughout your cycle. If your flow is brown, this usually indicates older blood that has been in the uterus a little longer.
All of this is considered pretty normal and are nothing to worry about, but if your blood is super dark, almost black, and comes with large clots (like, larger than an Aussie $1 coin), make an appointment to see your Dr.
You may experience some cramping or discomfort in your tummy, but otherwise the bleeding part itself shouldn’t be painful. A lot of women explain it as feeling like a trickling sensation.
You may experience some other symptoms along with your period - like abdominal cramping or hormonal skin break-outs - which are often associated with what's known as pre-menstrual syndrome, or PMS. More about that a bit further on...
A thin liner or a pad, changed regularly (to suit your flow and comfort level) will help keep things in order for your first time. There are lots of different products out there to help absorb menstrual flow, including tampons, which are a little device about the size of your pinky finger, usually made of cotton or rayon fibres, that are inserted inside the vagina and absorb your flow inside the body - unlike pads, which sit inside your undies and absorb flow outside of the body.
There are also reusable alternatives, like menstrual cups (also known as period cups), and absorbent period underwear, which are arguably more eco-friendly options as they are designed to be reused over and over and have a longer life than disposable options.
It might take a bit of trial and error to figure out what works for you, your period, your body and your lifestyle. No two periods are the same, and everyone manages their period differently. Your period, your choice!
Check out our first period kits HERE with a selection of period products and other first period must-haves (like chocolate and a mini hot water bottle) to help you figure out what best suits your needs.
A menstrual cycle lasts on average 28 days, but some people will experience slightly shorter or longer cycles, too. This doesn’t mean that you will bleed for 28 days straight! It means that the bleeding part will happen around every 28 days (counting the first day of your last period as day 1).
That said, some people may find that they get their first period and then nothing for a few months. This is considered to be normal and is just your body’s way of adjusting – it should find its own rhythm in a few months. If you’re concerned about your cycle, or if it comes and then goes AWOL for a while, check in with your GP/Doctor.
Your period could last anywhere between 2 – 8 days. It’s generally heavier in the first few days, but should get lighter towards the end of it. You may also find that you like to use different products at different times to best suit your flow.
Probably a lot less than you think! Your first period might start off as some really light spotting that you may notice on your underwear. You might then experience a full bleed straight away, or it might be sporadic to start with. This is usually nothing to worry about - it can take some time for your cycle to regulate.
During your period (the bleeding phase of your menstrual cycle), you’ll lose about 2 – 7 tablespoons of blood – the rest is just mucus and discharge.
If you think you’re experiencing super heavy or even painful periods, we recommend visiting a trusted Doctor.
A 'regular' menstrual period is considered as one that comes roughly every 28 days, but anywhere between 21 - 35 days is considered pretty normal, too (some people will have shorter or longer cycles than others).
If you're fairly new to periods, it can take some time for your body and hormones to adjust and for your cycle to regulate itself - this can take months, or even 1 - 2 years.
If you've had your period for a while but are not experiencing a regular or monthly bleed, or are bleeding more than once a month (like once every fortnight), check in with your Doctor.
Ah, the joys of period-hood. This is what they call pre-menstrual syndrome, or PMS. It’s a combination of physical and emotional symptoms that women may experience during their menstrual cycle, and can include things like irritability or mood swings, skin breakouts, headaches and bloating, to name a few. It all tends to subside once your period is over. You can learn more about PMS and how to manage it, HERE.
‘Normal’ means different things to different people. The info provided here is just a guide based on averages, but some people will experience things relating to their period outside of these stats. If you think something is amiss (like, if your periods are really painful, or super heavy, or if your period comes too early or too late), then we strongly recommend visiting a trusted Doctor. Most often than not it’s nothing to worry about, but it’s always worth getting checked out for peace of mind. For more info, check out our post on 'What's normal when it comes to your period?'
Toxic Shock Syndrome, or TSS, is a serious but a very rare disease that is caused by bacteria. It is more common in people who are menstruating and use tampons, though there is no scientific evidence to suggest that tampons themselves cause TSS. If you're a tampon user, regularly changing your tampon, and ensuring that you only use the lowest absorbency possible for your flow can help prevent TSS. TSS is generally nothing to worry about for most people who period, but it is important to always read, follow and keep the instructions that are provided in tampon packs. You can learn more about TSS HERE and HERE.
Educated and prepared Moxettes are empowered and well-equipped Moxettes! Take some time to learn more about periods: The Moxie Periodic Table is a super fun, free and easy resource that gives you the low-down on all things periods and intimate care, as well as our Moxie blog, which is packed with answers to the most frequently period-related questions.
Don't be afraid to ask questions and have open conversations with trusted friends, family or medical professionals, and of course, get prepped with some period products so that you won't be caught unawares on your first time. Our Moxie 'Welcome to Periods!' boxes have got a heap of things you need to help guide you through.
You can expect to get your period for quite some time, Moxette. People who experience a period will generally do so their period until they reach menopause, which happens at around 50 - 55 years old (but don’t worry about that just yet, we’ll talk about that some other time).
In the meantime, the best thing you can do is be kind to yourself and your body and remember that self-care is important, especially when you might be experiencing some of these classic period dramas. Have a warm bath, snack on some of your favourite chocolate and just do what makes you feel good.
If you've got any other questions about periods or period products, you can get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM us on Insta @MoxieHQ. If you have any medical-related questions or any concerns about your periods or your body, please do speak to a trusted adult or a medical professional you feel comfortable with. This piece is not intended to, nor should it substitute, a personalised diagnosis from a medical professional.
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