Your First Period:
One of the biggest steps you will take in your amazing journey from girl to woman is the first time you get your period. There is a lot of hype about this, lots of discussion at school about who has and who has not got their period, but in the end it is a rite of passage. The occasion is given its own scientific name called Menarche. Every girl might feel a different way about this change in their bodies; you might feel reassured that you are finally becoming a young woman, or you might feel a little scared about the whole thing. Just so you know - you’re not alone! Emotional reactions are perfectly natural, and an easy way to alleviate some of your anxiety having all the info about your first period. It’ll give you the confidence to take charge of the situation!
I was blessed to be raised by parents who were very open about topics of discussions that were typically taboo when they were teens. Periods, body changes, sex, babies and everything in between saw no limits. Having a twin brother, I got the low down on the boys side of puberty, and naturally he got the same information I did on the female body. Together with a couple of ‘Sex Education’ classes during Primary School and later again in High School (more an extension to Biology classes) we had open family conversations and they also discreetly organised for us to borrow books from the library (yes kiddos, this was BEFORE the Internet) so we could read about ‘things’ in our own time. I never realised how much of a blessing that was until the day my friend Renee got her period when we were 9 (early though not uncommon) - and she had no idea what was going on. So here I am at 9 telling her all the things I knew, when my own period didn’t kick in until I was 13! ***Note to self when I have kids - be as open as my parents.
What is a period
For those who don’t know; a period is a small amount of bleeding that takes place from your vagina. The bleeding will last for a few days and happens about every month. According to CareFree, 84% of girls feel self conscious when they get their period.
No one should feel self-conscious having their period. They’re a natural and healthy part of being a woman. If you notice things start to change, like you get more pimples, don’t worry, I went through the exact same thing too. That’s because your hormones are increasing. It’s natural. Drink more water and eat healthy food to help. And if you’re feeling blah, play some of your favourite tunes to take your mind of it or go for a walk to cheer yourself up.
Why do girls get periods
We get many questions from gals all over Australia and a common one is ‘why do girls even have periods?’. The answer is actually pretty easy (easier than that last maths test at least). As women, one of the things that our bodies have been designed to do is have babies. The whole baby making process has been around for donkeys years and you are one of the billions of women around the world (and through history) who have got (or are about to start) their very own menstrual cycle. So what? Well getting your period means that your body has prepared itself to be able to hold a fertilised egg and make a baby. Women’s bodies are amazing, and the idea that they can grow a baby from nearly nothing is something that makes them special, so be proud!
Every month your body gets itself ready for the possibility that you might get pregnant. One of the biggest things that happens is your womb becomes all nice and cosy with its walls getting an extra fluffy coating so that the baby can live there. When you don’t actually get pregnant (which is most of the time), your body doesn’t need that comfy layer in your womb and it sheds it by gently sliding it out of your body in the form of your period. The lining is mostly blood and other tissues from your womb walls. If your body didn’t get rid of that extra layer in your womb you could get sick, so periods are actually good. It might sound a tad gross, but once you understand the whole process you can easily see that our periods are actually a clearing and certainly nothing to be embarrassed about.
Some great online resources for all things periods, body changes, advice, facts & figures can be found:
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- What’s Happening To Me?
- Where Did I Come From
This series has stood the test of time; my Mother borrowed these from the library when she was a teen too (only she had to keep it a secret from my Grandmother. She was open minded with me in her later years, though not when my Mother and Uncle were living at home. The norm for families born at the turn of the century - it was a different time). Despite being books printed many moons ago, they have brought out changes to reflect modern day society. IVF, adoption, blended families, gay and lesbian parents and transgender parents also feature - with copies of the book also specialising in different ethnic groups (for example you can purchase the books in an African American edition). All bases are covered and the illustrations and wording is more than age appropriate.
No need to feel awkward, it’s a cause for celebration!
I came across this short animation a few weeks ago via one of my girlfriends who’s daughter had just started her period. I love it because it shows affirming traditions from around the world that welcome a girl’s first period. It’s also a grassroots project from The Waratah Project, an Australian initiative supporting women and girls by exploring and reframing menstruation and menopause in a positive and contemporary context. Check it out here:
There is hope for all the girls yet to join the ranks of women. May you feel honoured.