Your first period or the first time you bleed is known as Menarche (pronounced muh naar kee) . It can be a very special and important time in your development. It is a defining moment in your transition from child to adult as part of puberty. Getting your period means that your body is physically capable of becoming pregnant, unless you have a health condition preventing pregnancy from happening. When your period first comes, it might also make you feel a lot better if you are anxious about it.
Below you'll find some common questions/questions you might have. If you have any other questions, you could e-mail them or contact us on social media, especially if you think other people might benefit from the answer.
Everyone’s period starts at a different time, or different age. Some get their period at around eight or nine, or it might not come until you’re fourteen or fifteen. If you are older than fifteen, are biologically female and haven’t started to menstruate yet, it might be a good idea to make an appointment with your GP. Usually, your period won’t start until you notice that your breasts are starting to develop or until you have noticed that your pubic hair has started to grow. You might begin to get some cramping feelings in your stomach, or just below your belly button. Sometimes it might help to know what age your mother started her period at, or others in your family. This might help you feel more prepared.
In the future, it will become easier to track your periods if that's something you wish to do. Some people use an App on their phone or a paper journal to track when their period came, how long it lasted and any physical or emotional symptoms they may have had.
It will probably feel scary and different at first, because you are not used to it. Bleeding from your vagina can seem weird, in general! However, after about six months it’ll feel like a normal part of life. Some people report cramping in their stomach or just below their belly button.
You should pay attention to how much you are bleeding when you get your period – for most people this will only be a small amount of blood over 3-5 days. If you are not having a proper period and instead are spotting here and there throughout the month, bleeding for weeks at a time, consistently or are bleeding a lot – you should speak to an adult you trust who will help you, or contact your GP.
Contrary to what you might believe or fear, blood does not gush out of the vagina. In fact, most people lose a lot less blood than they expect to. On average, most people with a period lose about 2 to 3 tablespoons of blood. Of course, if you have a period problem such as endometriosis (Find out more about these in our page – period problems), you might lose a lot more blood.
The blood is also not always a bright red colour. At the beginning and end of your period, it might be more of a rusty red or even a brown colour. It might also be pink at the beginning and end of your period. It is good and normal to see bright red blood as this indicates a fresh and steady flow. You may have some white bits in your blood – this is just cervical fluid (which you can find out more about in the Female Body and Hormones page). You might also have small black or red clots in your blood. This can be very normal too. However, it is important that if these are very large or painful to pass, that you see your GP,
You might feel a lot of things during your first period which are new. There can be some physical symptoms, the most common of these is cramp in the stomach or pelvic area. For most people, these are very mild and should not impact your day to day life. If you are in pain, you can take some ibuprofen (make sure to follow the package instructions or talk to a parent). It is also normal to get some bloating around your stomach area- this is when you might feel bigger or heavier than normal. This is normal and is because your body is retaining water. It will dissipate in a few days.
You might find that you get headaches during your first period. This might be because you are anxious or stressed about it. You might get acne or skin break outs and have tender breasts. These are all normal and you may get none of them, or you may get all of them. It may also change from cycle to cycle - every period is different.
You might also get some emotional symptoms. Feeling tense/irritable/emotional (also known as PMS) is very common on the lead up to or first couple of days of your period. You might feel like simple things require a bit more work to get motivated to do them. It is also normal to feel a bit sad or low - your body is very low in the hormones that help make you feel positive.
The annoying thing about your first few periods, is you might not be aware when they are going to show up. Don’t worry though! As you get better at tracking your cycle, you’ll be able to predict with more accuracy so that you are more prepared in the future. It might help to make sure you have got some period products in the house for when your period starts. For your first couple of times and especially if you don’t feel confident or comfortable inserting something into your vagina – you could use period pants (which are reusable and washable) or pads (which can be reusable). It might be good to buy pads that are different absorbencies (usually period products are shown with drips beside them – the more drips a product has, the higher the absorbency and so the more liquid it will hold). This will seem expensive at first, but don’t worry because you won’t have to spend this every month. It is just to ensure that you are prepared because your first few periods can be unpredictable. You could always give anything you haven’t used and won’t in the future, away to a friend or a charity.
You can usually speak to your parent, guardian or someone else you trust. Even if they do not have a period themselves and do not know all of the answers to your questions, they can help you navigate this website, the internet in general or find another trusted adult such as a nurse, GP or sexual health practitioner to help you.
As a society, we are getting a lot better at talking about periods. Historically, people were ashamed of having periods and believed that having them made them unclean. This attitude is still present in some people, but generally people are lot more approachable and happier to talk. Most people would not want to talk about their period in a place that is very busy and where other people could hear what they are saying. It might be best to ask them if they are comfortable to talk about it and/or if there would be a better time to talk to them about it. At a cafe spaced out from other people or in a car can be good places to have a private conversation.
You might also have a friend who you know is going through the same thing as you – if they are a good friend, they will tell you what they know. There is no need to be embarrassed.
It is acceptable to ask a shop assistant in a shop where to find period products even if they do not have a period and you should try not to feel embarrassed at check outs when paying for your products. Shop assistants are very used to this and remember half of the population on average has had or will have a period! You are not alone.
In school, you might need to go to the toilet more often to change your period product. If you don’t feel comfortable asking to go to the toilet in school, you can pull your teacher aside or put your hand up or write a note to alert them to this. You do not have to tell them that you are on your period.
You can also always talk to any medical practitioner such as a nurse, GP, or sexual health provider about your period.