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How to manage your first period?

Like many other first times in your life, your very first period (called menarche) is special. They’re not necessarily special, along with the cramps and bloating, but they mark the onset of puberty and fertility and officially make you a woman!

When will I have my first period?

Not all girls have their first period at the same age, so it’s hard to predict exactly when they’ll start. You are likely to have them between 11 and 14 years old, but you can have them as early as 9 or up to 15 years old.

Usually, your period begins soon after the breasts, waist and hips develop, and pubic hair appears. The age at which you will have your first period is also genetically determined. Chances are, you’ll have your first period around the same age as your mom, aunts, or older sisters.

Why am I on my period?

Good question ! Especially considering that most mammals don’t have period! To put it simply, it is evolution that is in question. The human placenta has evolved into a hemochorial placenta through which the human fetus (unlike the fetuses of other mammals) can directly access its mother’s bloodstream and nutrients. So it can be said that the human woman is biologically and evolutionarily wired to prepare for pregnancy.

With the onset of puberty, just before menarche (and then before each subsequent period ), your brain prompts your body to start producing hormones to prepare your body for possible pregnancy each month. It’s strange, isn’t it? Here is how it works:

These hormones cause the lining of your uterus to thicken through small blood vessels, then cause one of your two ovaries to release an egg.
The egg then travels along the fallopian tube to your uterus – this process is called ovulation. If this egg is not fertilized by a sperm, pregnancy does not take place.
In this case, the thick wall of the uterus breaks down and drains from your vagina as a discharge containing blood, uterine tissue, mucus, and bacteria.
When this process is repeated every month, it is called a menstrual cycle or “period”.

Will I be bleeding every month?

The average menstrual cycle is around 28 days, but this can vary widely. It is common for girls to have an irregular period when they start having their period. Your body has its own internal rhythm, and it will take time to understand your cycle, the number of days it lasts, and the amount of flow.

It takes about 1 to 2 years for your period to settle on a regular basis. At first, you may not get your period every month on the same day and you may skip some periods.

Will my first period be very painful?

Pain from the first period and the next period is very common, but like everything else when it comes to periods, it varies. Some girls have little or no pain, while others have severe cramps. If you experience discomfort or pain before or at the start of your first period, take one of the following actions:

  • See your doctor and discuss birth control pills that are known to reduce period pain.
  • Hot water bottles and heating pads can help relieve cramps.
  • Some food supplements can also provide relief.

However, there are other more natural ways to treat period pain.

Will it bleed a lot and how long will it last?

The first period is usually very light and very short. Many girls have reddish-brown spots for a few days and that’s it.

Thereafter, your period usually lasts 3 to 7 days and the amount of flow varies each day, usually starting with light, then becoming heavy, and finally subsiding.

What to eat during your period?

A change in diet can help you feel more energetic and even prevent or relieve period cramps. Experts at the University of Maryland offer the following tips:

  • Eat foods rich in calcium like green leafy vegetables, beans, nuts, and yogurt.
  • Eat foods rich in antioxidants, such as blueberries, cranberries, tomatoes, peppers, and artichokes.
  • Avoid pasta, white bread, fried foods, and baked goods that are high in sugar.
  • Avoid coffee and alcohol.
  • Exercise 5 days a week for about 30 minutes, and consider adding supplements such as fish oil, evening primrose oil, and multivitamins to your diet. Studies also show that a diet rich in magnesium (eggs, milk, oatmeal, green beans, asparagus, cabbage, carrots or bananas) can help reduce period pain.

Menstrual hygiene

Maintaining good menstrual hygiene is essential to prevent infections and to simply feel good! Keep the following points in mind:

  • Take an extra hot shower or bath every day when you have your period. It will help you feel clean, and the hot water will ease the pain a bit. Be sure to gently wash the area around your vagina (not the inside) with an unscented soap to remove excess blood.
  • Always wash / wipe in a back and forth motion (vagina to buttocks) and never backwards, to avoid infections, especially after bowel movements.
  • If you want to use sanitary napkin , change your napkin before it is completely soaked. It varies from woman to woman, but most women change their towels every 4 to 8 hours.
  • If you want to use tampons, you should also change them every 4-8 hours. Leaving tampons in place longer can cause toxic shock syndrome, so be extra careful to change your tampon often.
  • Whatever feminine hygiene product you choose, dispose of it properly. This means wrapping it in its original packaging or in toilet paper and throwing it in the trash. Never flush them down the toilet.
  • Always wash your hands after changing hygiene products.
  • Take extra pads / tampons in case you experience heavy bleeding.

If you’re starting to get your period and don’t have any sanitary products with you, ask a friend or the nurse at your school to have them. Do not be shy ! And if all else fails, fold several squares of toilet paper and place them in your underwear until you can get to a drugstore.

Alternative remedies for period pain

According to Ayurveda, minor changes to your diet and daily routine can make your period more manageable, ease pain, and help you feel more energetic.

Ayurvedic diet recommendations

Foods such as flax seeds, hemp oil, ghee, coconut oil, turmeric, and ginger and cardamom tea are believed to help relieve period pain. Cumin, cilantro, saffron, and fennel are also believed to have anti-inflammatory properties which can reduce period pain.

Supplements like ashoka (Saraca indica) can also help maintain a regular cycle and healthy flow while soothing uterine discomfort during menstruation.

Yoga to relieve period cramps

Yoga and meditation can also help you feel less stressed and more energetic when you are on your period. Experts suggest a 45-minute routine consisting of Supta Baddha Konasana , Supta Padangusthasana, Baddha Konasana, Janu Sirsasana, Paschimottanasana, and Viparita Karani to help relieve cramps and feel less tired.