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Everything You Need to Know About Your First Period - A Period Guide
Regular Monthly period cycles are a mark of a healthy woman and well functioning hormones.
Understanding them, how they happen, why they happen, will help explain why some experience uncomforting symptoms and help you deal with your periods better.
Instead of hiding and shaming, lets understand them. They are here to stay, embrace your relationship ;)
What is the Reproductive system?
When you were a baby in your mother’s belly your heart, lungs, eyes, stomach, and other organs were made. A special thing called the Reproductive system was also made.
Just like how you cannot see the heart and lungs outside the body the reproductive system is also hidden inside your body.
It is made up of 4 parts
Look at the above picture.
Do you see 2 oval shaped things? These are called the Ovaries (O – VA - REES). Both the oval shaped things are as small as a walnut.
Do you see something like a pipe/ tube next to the ovals?
These pipes are called the Fallopian tubes. Each fallopian tube is like a pipe with 2 open ends.
One side of the tube is fixed to the Ovaries
The other end of the tube is fixed to a bag called the Uterus.
Doesn’t the Uterus look like an upside-down triangle?
The fallopian tube/pipe joins the ovaries with the Uterus
Right below the uterus you have a wide pipe called the Vagina.
These parts are there only in girls and not in boys. Boys have a reproductive system that looks different from yours.
Now that we know what the Reproductive system looks like. What does this system do?
What happens in the reproductive system?
After you reach puberty some changes happen to your uterus. The brain sends a message to the Uterus to start making a home with a comfortable bed for a baby. The Uterus starts making a comfortable bed with blood and a thing called tissue to make the bed bouncy and soft.
A change happens to the ovaries too. The ovaries start to make eggs. The eggs made by the ovaries are not as large as the eggs from a chicken. But they are the size of a grain of sand!
Very tiny! Right?!
An egg is produced by one of the ovaries. The egg made by the ovary rolls into the fallopian tube. It travels through this pipe to the uterus.
It looks forward to meeting its friend called Sperm on the way to the uterus.
If the sperm and egg meet during its travel, they join to make a baby, which fixes itself in a special bed made by the uterus and it grows.
If the egg does not meet the sperm before or after it reaches the uterus, the brain sends the uterus another message. It tells the uterus that the bed it made is not needed because there is no baby on the way. The uterus then pushes the egg and the bed out of the body. The bed is removed slowly and in small pieces.
The pieces of the bed pass through the Vagina tube to the outside of the body. The pieces of the bed you will see outside the body are a mix of blood and slime.
Where does the Period blood come from?
Girls have 3 holes in their pubic area. Your poop comes out of one hole at the back, your urine/pee comes out of the hole in the front. There is a hole between the two holes. The blood from your vagina comes from that hole.
All that hair down there is there to protect the three holes from bad germs.
Are you scared thinking of blood? Or seeing it?
There is nothing to be afraid of!! Think of this blood as your poop or pee coming out. The only difference is that it is red in color.
What does the blood look like or feel like?
It can look bright red, dark red/ maroon. It can feel slimy and sticky.
It can be bright red for some women, or it can be dark red for other women. It can be a different shade of red for you.
How much blood does one lose during periods?!!
Only 2 teaspoons to 8 teaspoons of blood that comes out with lots of tissue and slime.
For how many days will the blood come out of my body?
It can happen for 4 days or more. It is different to each girl or woman. These 4 days are called a period or period days or Menstruation days (MENS- TRUE- AYE- SHIN)
How often do I get my periods and why?
This happens every month or 28 days.
Day 1 to Day 4 is called your period days.
The day after your period ends is Day 5. On this day, the uterus starts making a new bed. It takes 9 to 10 days to build the bed. The uterus completes building the bed on Day 13.
On Day 14 the egg is sent out of the ovary. It takes 2 days for the egg to travel to the uterus. It travels through the fallopian tube hoping to meet its friend the sperm on the way.
If the egg does not meet the sperm on its way to the uterus or in the uterus, it comes out of the body between Day 16 and Day 28.
This can happen to you every month for 30 to 40 years. For most women it will stop after they turn 40 years old.
Can I stop getting my period before I turn 40?
Yes. It can happen. If you do not get your period for the month you should talk to your parents, guardian, teacher, sibling, or doctor. They will help you with an answer.
How will I know when I am going to get my period?
Before your period days you will experience PMS. PMS is also called Premenstrual Syndrome. It starts 2 weeks before periods.
During the 2 weeks you can feel moody, tired, legs and body can feel sore, exhausted, irritated, back ache, difficulty to poop, headache, craving for sweet foods, feeling stressed, difficulty concentrating or sleeping.
It can happen to some girls or may not at all/ But what you are going through will disappear a day or two after your period begins.
Now, Does it hurt?
Yes, it does for some girls/women.
Why does it pain or hurt?
Remember that the uterus is squeezing itself to send the blood out. The Uterus needs calcium for it to be strong and healthy when it squeezes. If you have less calcium in your body the uterus won’t be strong to push the blood out and you feel pain.
You should make sure you eat calcium rich foods to keep your uterus strong and keep the pain away.
Will the pain go away?
Yes. You can make the pain go away/ lessen it in a few ways:
Relax the muscles: You can place a hot water bag or heating pad below your stomach or where you feel the pain. The warmth can bring down the pain.
Eat Calcium rich foods: Eat healthy foods, fruits like watermelon, dark chocolate, fish, chicken. Do not have sugary junk food or fried food like doughnuts, french fries, cakes, ets during your period.
Do light exercises to give muscles in lower abdomen some exercise.
Medicines can take the pain away. They can be taken sometimes when it hurts very badly and you cannot study or walk or do your work peacefully. Try some healthy period drinks instead!
But you should talk to your mother or doctor before you take any medicines.
Why will I feel moody and sad?
You feel moody and sad because there are two special messengers swimming in your body. They are called Estrogen (ES-TRO-GEN) and Progesterone (PRO - GES- TUH - RONE). Let’s call them E AND P.
E and P tell the brain to make less quantity of happy hormones. When you have less happy hormones in your body you become sad and moody. And the body does this because lots of energy is going into the menstrual cycle. So you need to make extra efforts to eat Magnesium rich food that improves happy hormones. Don't eat chips or sugar loaded chocolate as they will only worsen the mood swings.
Why do I feel bloated or like I swelled like an air filled balloon?
Right before you get your period Estrogen or E tells the body to store extra water and makes your body swell up.
You can increase intakes of diuretics that will make you pee more and the bloating will go away!
Remember that the sadness, pain and bloating will go away in a day or day after your period starts during the month.
You can also download an application on your mobile phone or iPad or your parent’s phone which will tell you when you are going to get your period every month. This way you can fix a pad to your underwear on the right day to catch the blood. Always carry a pad or a tampon in your bag to school or wherever you travel. Be prepared for your period.
You must be thinking. Won’t my clothes get dirty with blood? What should I do?
Just like how babies pee into a spongy diaper. There is a special sponge called a pad. It is a soft thin cushion like sticker.
The cushion has a sticky side and a soft spongy side. You fix the pad to the underwear by putting the sticky side down on it. The blood coming out of your body will go into the spongy side and will not get on your clothes. Every time the pad gets filled with blood and slime you remove it and put a new one there. You should fix a new pad every 3 to 4 hours.
There is another kind of sponge called a tampon. If you look at the above picture, it looks like a thin short cylinder with a short thread/string at one end. You can use the string to pull the tampon out of your vagina.
Pads take up the blood that comes out of your vagina. But tampons take up the blood inside the vagina itself. It does not let the blood come out.
You can put it up your Vagina and it will take up all the blood. Put a new tampon every 3 to 4 hours.
It can take a while to learn how to use a tampon.
If it feels like your tampon is stuck up there, do not panic. Try after a while and it will come out eventually because there is only one way out of the vagina.
Should I use a pad or a tampon or a cup? Which of the two is better?
You can try using both. At the end it is important to choose and use the one you feel most comfortable wearing. If you are active, and go swimming we suggest you use a tampons or cups!
How to take care of yourself during my period?
Eat healthy – Eating healthy food will keep away pain, sadness and bloating. As we told you before, have foods rich in Calcium like milk, eggs, lots of fruits like watermelons, berries and vegetables.
Do not eat foods with sugar like doughnuts, cupcakes and oily food like fries.
Drink lots of water.
Exercise – If you cannot play sports you can do light exercises like yoga, do stretching or walking. Exercise will make you strong, healthy and will make you happy/ improve your mood.
Take care of your skin and hair – Some girls get acne and pimples. Wash your face 2 times a day. Talk to a skin doctor or a dermatologist who can help you with it.
Emotions and mood swings – You might feel sad on some days and happy on some. It is okay to feel like that. If you feel sad or want to cry you should find someone close like a family, friend, or guardian you can talk to about it.
Practice good personal hygiene – Shower daily and keep the pubic area clean. Replace your pad or tampon every 3 to 4 hours. Make sure you change the pad and tampon with clean hands to keep germs away.
Have you heard of stories of girls being told to be alone during their period? Not touch or talk to anyone? Not enter a kitchen or temple? If you have not you will sometime.
Many years ago girls had to be alone during their period days. They had to sit alone in one corner of the room or house and not move around during her period.
This was done because many years ago girls did not have pads or tampons to collect the blood coming out of the body every month. If she moved around she would get blood on her clothes or ground.
Periods is also a time when a girl/ woman feels tired. So she was told to be alone, not do any work and to take rest till her period got over.
But today you don't have to do this because we have pads and tampons to collect the blood. You are free to move around, go to school, dance and play sports during your period. You have period drinks that will help you during periods!
Are you still nervous, scared, or shy thinking about your period?
There is nothing to be scared about. All girls feel scared when they think about it and all feel that way. You will get used to the changes that happen to you every month as you grow older into a woman.
I am sure you have many more questions about your period. Do not be afraid or shy to ask questions. You should talk to your mother, older siblings, friends, teachers, doctor, or anyone you trust.
When you feel confused about the changes in your body find a person to talk to and someone can help you understand this. I am sure they will be happy to help you if you get worried about your body. They will understand you because they have also been through the same.
Remember that your period time is a happy time because your body is working well and telling you that you are healthy. It tells you that you are on your way to become a grownup/adult.