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How to Survive Your First Period

Using a PadPreparing for Your First PeriodGetting Your First PeriodQuestions & AnswersRelated Articles

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While many girls spend the months or years leading up to their first periods learning about them in class, talking with their friends, wondering what it's going to be like and when it's going to happen. When it actually does happen, it can be a shock. Being knowledgable, prepared, and remembering that you have absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about will help you survive that first period.



Using a Pad

  1. 1

    Pull your panties down to your knees. Sit down on the toilet so any blood will drip into the toilet bowl and not onto the floor or your clothing.

  2. 2

    Unwrap the pad. Don't throw away the wrapper; it's perfect for wrapping up and disposing of your pad when you change it later.[1]

  3. 3

    Remove the backing to expose the sticky side of the pad. There's usually a long piece of wax-like paper covering the adhesive on the bottom of the pad. The wrapper may also double as backing, so the adhesive will already be exposed.[2]

  4. 4

    Center the pad in the middle part (the crotch) of your underpants, or the part that goes between your legs.[3] The wider or bigger side of the pad should go to the back of your panties, towards your buttocks. Make sure the adhesive is stuck firmly to the fabric of your underwear.
    • If your pad has wings, remove the backing and fold them around the middle part of your underwear, so it looks like the pad is hugging your underwear.[4]
    • Make sure the pad isn't too far forward or too far back; it should be centered in your underwear.
  5. 5

    Pull your panties all the way up. It may feel uncomfortable at first (kind of like a diaper), so walk around the bathroom to get used to the feel. You should change your pad every 4-6 hours (or sooner if you have a really heavy flow). Changing your pad will help keep it from leaking and keep you feeling fresh.

  6. 6

    Dispose of the used pad by rolling it up and putting it in the wrapper.[5] If you threw out the wrapper, just wrap the pad in some toilet paper. If you're in a public place, look for a small trashcan on the floor or attached to the wall of the stall. Discard the soiled pad in the trash—never, ever throw it in the toilet, even if the packaging says it is okay to do so. It can clog the plumbing.
    • If you are at home and you have pets, you may want to throw the used pad into a trashcan with a lid or even the trash bin that the garbage men collect. Cats and dogs especially can be attracted to the smell of the blood on your pad. Your dog eating your tampon or pad is not only embarrassing, but it can be life-threatening to your pet.[6]


Preparing for Your First Period

  1. 1

    Know what to expect. The more information you have, the more likely you'll be able to stay calm when it happens. Your first period will probably be very light, and may not even look like blood. It may appear as bright red drops in your underwear, or it could be brownish and sticky.[7] Don't worry that you will be gushing blood, either; during an average period, a woman will only lose about 1 oz. (30 ml) of blood.[8] That's about the same amount of liquid as 2 bottles of nail polish.
    • Talk to your mom or older sister. They may be able to give you an idea of when you will get your period. It's not always the same, but often girls begin their periods around the age as their mother or sisters did.[9]
    • If you can't talk to a mom or older sister, talk to a school nurse or trusted friend who has already gotten her period.
    • When your period comes, you may notice a feeling of wetness in your underwear. You may even feel liquid flowing out of your vagina, or you may not notice anything at all.[10]
    • If you have a blood phobia and you're worried about how you'll react, try thinking of it this way: this isn't blood like from a wound or injury. The blood from your period is actually a sign that you're healthy.[11]
  2. 2

    Buy supplies. The drugstore or grocery store usually has an entire aisle dedicated to feminine hygiene products (pads, tampons, pantyliners). Don't be overwhelmed by all the choices; as you get to know your flow, you'll have a better idea of which product works best for you. To start out, look for pads that aren't too bulky or noticeable and has light or medium absorbency.[12].
    • Pads are probably the easiest thing to start out with; you'll have enough to think about without worrying about how to insert a tampon.
    • Practice putting a pad in your underwear before you have your period. If you notice discharge in your underwear, use that to figure out where the middle of the pad should be.[13]
    • Some websites offer coupons or even free samples or period "starter kits" for you to keep on-hand.
    • If you'd rather use a tampon or a menstrual cup during your first period, that's completely fine. It's important that you are comfortable with whichever protection you choose.[14]
    • If you're embarrassed about buying pads, just go up to the register with a few other items, and busy yourself looking at candy while the cashier rings you up. Remember that the cashier really doesn't care what you are buying and it's nothing new or shocking to him or her.
  3. 3

    Store pads in your backpack, purse, gym bag, and locker for emergencies. With all the time you spend at school, playing sports, going to friend's houses, and doing other activities, it's possible, even likely, you will get your period while you are away from home. It may give you peace of mind to know you always have a pad with you wherever you are, just in case.[15]
    • If you're worried about someone going through your book bag and finding your stash or things falling out, get a makeup bag or pencil case to store your period supplies.
    • You may want to hide a pair of underwear and a resealable plastic bag in your locker in case you get your period at school and need to change your panties. You can rinse the soiled pair in cold water and put them in the bag to take home.
    • You may also want to keep a little bottle of ibuprofen or other over-the-counter pain medication in your locker, just in case you get cramps. Just make sure your school policy allows this so you don't get in trouble.
  4. 4

    Notice changes in your body that might indicate your period is coming soon. While there's no single indication that your period is arriving, you won't really know until it comes; your body may give you signs that it is preparing to menstruate. A stomach or backache, cramps in your abdomen, and sore breasts can all be signs that you are getting your period.[16]
    • Women can get their first periods as early as 8 and as old as 16. Most usually get theirs around the age of 11 or 12.[17]
    • Women usually get their periods about two years after they begin developing breasts.[18]
    • You may notice a thick, white discharge in your underpants up to 6 months before getting your first period.[19]
    • Your period usually comes after you have reached 100 pounds (7 stone).[20]
    • If you are underweight, this may delay your period. If you are overweight, you may begin your period sooner.[21]


Getting Your First Period

  1. 1

    Do not freak out. Remind yourself that this happens (or will happen or has happened) to half the population of the worldevery single month! Think about all the women you know. Your teachers, pop stars, actresses, police women, politicians, athletes—they've all been through this. Take a deep breath, relax, and congratulate yourself on reaching this important milestone.

  2. 2

    Make a temporary pad if you're caught by surprise when you're away from home. If it's the middle of third period and you just looked down to find spots of blood in your panties, know that help is not far away. If there's not a dispenser in the bathroom, you can go to the school nurse, a health teacher, counselor, or a female teacher you like and trust.[22]
    • Until you can get a pad, wrap several layers of toilet paper around the crotch of your underwear. This will absorb the blood and act as a temporary liner until you can get a pad.[23]
    • Ask a trusted friend if she can lend you a pad. If there are other women in the restroom, don't be shy about asking them! They've all probably been in your position before and will be happy to help.[24]
  3. 3

    Cover leaks by tying a hoodie around your waist. First periods are usually very light, so it's unlikely it will seep through your pants. Still, it does happen sometimes, but it's not a big deal. Cover your buttocks with a sweater, hoodie, or long-sleeved shirt you can tie around your waist.
    • If you're at school, go to the nurse or office and ask if you can call your parents for a change of clothes.
    • If worst comes to worst, you can always change into the shorts of your gym uniform.
    • If you change your pants and someone asks you about it, just say you spilled something all over your pants and had to get a change of clothes. No big deal.
  4. 4

    Talk to your mom or visit the nurse if you start getting cramps. Not all women will experience cramps, and some will only have mild discomfort, but it's possible you will feel intense cramping in your lower abdomen. The nurse can give you pain medicine, a heating pad, and a place to rest until you feel better.[25]
    • Exercise can actually relieve cramps. Even if you don't feel like moving, try not to skip gym class. It might help you feel better.
    • Try a few yoga poses. Start with child's pose. Sit on your knees so your buttocks is resting on your heels. Stretch the upper half of your body forward, arms extended, until your stomach is resting on your thighs. Breathe slowly and relax, closing your eyes.[26]
    • Chamomile tea contains an anti-inflammatory that can help with cramps.[27]
    • Drink warm water to stay hydrated and reduce bloating and cramps.[28]
  5. 5

    Tell your parents. While you may not delight at the idea of sharing this information with your mom or dad, it's important they know. They can help you get supplies and take you to the doctor if you have any concerns or feel that something is wrong. If you have an irregular period, severe cramps, or acne, birth control might help get your hormones in check, and you'll need to see a doctor to get the prescription.[29]
    • Even if it's awkward, your parents will be happy you told them. They love and care about you and your health is important to them.
    • If it's just you and your dad, don't keep him in the dark. He knows you're going to get your period eventually. Even if he doesn't have all the answers, he can help you get supplies and may put you in touch with an aunt or another trustworthy woman you can talk to.
    • If you still feel shy, try sending your mom a text or writing a note so you don't have to talk face-to-face.[30]
  6. 6

    Mark the date on your calendar. While your period will probably be very irregular at first; it may last two days or nine, it may come every 28 days or twice a month; it's important you start to track it.[31] Your doctor will start asking you about your cycle, and talk to you about any concerns you may have about the length, amount of flow, or time between your periods.
    • You can use one of many smart phone apps to track your period.
    • Tracking your period will make it less likely you are caught unaware. You can wear a pantyliner when you know you're getting near the time of your period.
    • Knowing when you can expect your period can come in handy when making plans (you might want to postpone that beach trip for the week after your period).

Community Q&A

Add New Question
  • Question

    Can it come while I'm asleep?

    Yes, it can happen anytime. It makes no difference if you are sleeping, eating, taking a shower, etc. -- it’ll just happen!

  • Question

    I've started my period today, but haven't got hair under my arm. Is this normal?

    Yes, you may develop different things at different times. It doesn't all happen in a specific order.

  • Question

    Can I go to school on my period?

    Of course you can. If you have really bad cramps you might need to take a day off, but that shouldn't happen too frequently. Other than that, there's no reason you can't go to school while on your period.

  • Question

    I didn't experience any symptoms when I got my first period. Is that normal?

    Yes, most first periods are very light and not accompanied by extreme symptoms. It is normal to get light cramps or nothing at all.

  • Question

    Is it normal for a 10-year-old to get a period?

    Yes, that is normal. The average age to start is 11-12, but some girls start earlier, and some start later.

  • Question

    What if my friends have got it but I haven't, and it's a problem?

    It shouldn't be a problem. All people develop at different times, there is nothing wrong with being late. If you are 15 or over and you haven't started, though, you should tell a doctor.

  • Question

    I have this brown, dried stain in my pants, and it is definitely not vaginal discharge. What is it? Is it my period? I am scared to tell my mum (and dad).

    Yes, that is most likely your period. It's not unusual at all for it to be brown in color. You don't have to tell your dad if you don't want to. Just get your mum alone and say, "Mom, I started my period." It's really no big deal and there's nothing to be embarrassed about. Just let her know.

  • Question

    Why do we need to have one?

    Every month your uterus creates a nest for a possible embryo. To keep it fresh and hospitable, the nest needs to be shed and recreated every month. Your period is the shedding of your nest.

  • Question

    Is it going to be as bad as everyone says it will be?

    Everyone's period is different. Some get a heavy flow with cramps and back pain, but that does not necessarily mean that will happen to you as well.

  • Question

    Is it okay if my first period was slightly heavy and bright red?

    Yes, that is normal. When it comes to periods, there is a large range of normal.

Show more answers

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  • With tampons, there is risk of a very rare, but serious disease called TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome). Never wear a tampon longer than eight hours. Be sure to read the instructions in the tampon box, and if you experience any of the symptoms, go to a doctor immediately.
  • You should never wear a tampon when you are not having your period. Try pantyliners if you are irregular and are worried about leaking.
  • Extremely heavy bleeding and/or cramps so bad that prevent you from doing everyday things might be an indication that something is wrong. Talk to your doctor about your symptoms.