Being a teenager in 2020 can be hard work. Not only do you have to find ways to adjust to how the world around you is changing, but also how your body is changing too.
You might already be familiar with the answers to these questions about your first period but you might not be sure about what telltale signs to expect when it’s on its way. We’ve compiled a list of the symptoms to look out for, so that you aren’t taken by complete surprise when your first period arrives!
When will I get my first period?
Our first periods generally arrive around the age of 11 or 12, but can begin earlier or later. In fact your period could start as early as 8 years old. Puberty can be quite a long process – it might be a few years between when your breasts and pubic hair starts growing, and when your period arrives. The most important thing to remember is that your body is unique. Each person has their own internal clock, based on so many different biological and environmental factors. So if your period doesn’t arrive at the same time as other people around you, don’t worry too much!
There are some things that you can look out for, which might give you a clue on when you’re starting your period:
If you’ve noticed that your body is changing, then your period might not be far behind. Have your hips become wider recently, or have you noticed that there’s more fat in places where there used to be less? These are signs that your body is preparing itself for menstruation. And if your body is looking a little uneven – don’t fear! Our bodies tend not to grow symmetrically – and they even themselves out over time.
You might be due to have your period if your breasts become tender or painful to touch. This is totally normal and not something to worry about; it’s just another sign that your hormones are fluctuating: estrogen causes the breast ducts to enlarge, and progesterone production causes the milk glands to swell. Both of these things can cause your breasts to feel sore temporarily.
If your breasts stay consistently painful, throughout the month, or if you notice a lump or puckering/dimpling in the skin, then it’s important to get them checked out by a health professional.
One minute, you’re happily getting on with your day, and the next, you’re in the foulest mood you’ve ever known, all for seemingly no reason. Mood swings can be really alarming if you’ve never experienced them before.
This is because of the hormonal fluctuations that occur during puberty. Hormones impact so many of our bodily processes – including our moods. During puberty, your body will be undergoing major flux, so your hormones will be all over the place! Don’t worry, though – your moods will level out eventually.
Quite possibly the worst of all of the symptoms are cramps, otherwise known as period pains. If you’re lucky, you might not get these very often. And if you’re less lucky, you might find that they’re unbearable. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on them. If your period pains are too much to handle every time you have your period, then you might want to make an appointment with your doctor to get checked out for a condition called endometriosis, which affects an estimated 1 in 10 people with periods.
Here are some yoga poses you can try out for relieving period pain.
If your periods are very painful every time, here’s some advice on when to get checked out for endometriosis.
Discharge is the fluid in your underwear. It can vary in colour and consistency but is generally whiteish. It can range from sticky like egg whites, to thin and watery, to thicker and creamy. When your period is due, you might find more than usual, and it might also be darker – maybe even slightly reddish or pink. And a change to its odour is normal, too!
Acne sucks! Puberty acne can be especially hard to live with. If your acne appears around your neck and chin, it’s a sign that it’s hormonal. The best thing you can do is keep your face clean, avoid touching your face and picking at spots, use products that are soft and free of chemicals, and make sure that your diet is full of fresh fruit and veggies, rather than lots of sugary, fatty foods.
You can read much more about how to look after your skin during your menstrual cycle here.
An unfortunate side effect of having a period is bloating, which is most often caused by water retention and excess gas. One way to avoid bloating is to lay off the carbonated drinks – these might be tasty, but they’re full of gas and sugar. The gas makes you feel more full and the sugar can be irritating to your bowels.
If you feel bloated, don’t avoid drinking water – it won’t help! Instead, try some gentle stretches and give yourself a belly rub.
You can read more about bloating, acne and other PMS symptoms here.
Other signs as to when your period might start
- If you are able to, ask your biological mother when her first period arrived. (This may help you to determine when yours will arrive!)
- Do you have breasts and are your nipples darker and more textured than they used to be?
- Do you have hair in your armpits and around your pubic area?
- Do you feel especially tired, or tired at different times of day to normal?
- Have you found a little bit of blood in your underwear, but not enough to be a full period?
Did you experience any other symptoms before your first period arrived? Are you waiting for your first period now? Let us know in the comments below!