Teen Zone

Period Guide

From teen to a woman: Know your periods

A volleyball practice that didn’t go well

Gitika is a 13-year-old tomboyish teen who loves playing volleyball.

It was one of her team practice days at the school playground. She had just thrown the ball when she felt a strong pang in her abdomen. She suddenly bent down clutching her shirt from the middle. Everyone gathered around her.

‘Are you okay?’

‘No. I am feeling a weird stomach ache. I am gonna lie down.”

Ruchi held Gitika by her waist and the two girls walked toward the Wellness Room.

“Are you sure you will be okay? I can stay” Ruchika offered but Gitika declined.

The ache was starting to feel better. But then, she was suddenly aware of the wetness near her pubic area. This felt wetter than usual. She had experienced a white creamy discharge from her vagina earlier but this felt heavy and thick.

“Oh no” Gitika panicked. She suddenly knew what was happening. This must be what these girls called ‘MC’.

Just when School Counselor Mrs. Gopalan entered the room.

“I saw you and Ruchi leave the playground. The girls said it was a stomach ache. But I think you are having your periods,” Mrs. Gopalan did not waste a second.

“I am freaking out Madam. I don’t know what to do! Damn, I had missed those period classes also earlier. How can I make this stop?”

“Relax, you got this,” said Mrs. Gopalan while taking out a pad from her purse. The two then went to the bathroom.

“This is a pad that you can get from any general or medical store. You need to take the butter paper off of it and place it on your underwear, it has an adhesive that sticks. This pad is made of adsorbents that will soak the blood until the pad is full. If you feel your pad is all bloody and thick, it’s time to change it, okay?” explained Mrs. Gopalan.

“But Madam, my underwear is soaked in blood,” Gitika said.

“Don’t worry dear, I got an extra one too. Here. And listen, don’t panic when you see the blood okay? I will explain that later,” Mrs. Gopalan reassured her.

While wearing the pad for the first time, a million questions ran through Gitika’s head.

Why am I losing all this blood?

Why did I feel a strange pang in my stomach?

Why don’t the boys menstruate?

When she emerged from the bathroom, she was feeling a lot more comfortable even though her mind was racing.

“Are you ready to talk?” asked Ruchi who was standing behind Mrs. Gopalan.

The three women then walked towards the Science Room.

Gitika learns about her uniqueness

Ruchi was the first one to talk. She recalled her first experience of getting her periods during summer vacation. She was out on the beach playing with her cousins. Ruchi even knew when some of the girls from the team - Smita, Laura, Rachna, Sam and Tripti got their periods. Some of them got it in the previous year, and some this year. 

“Are you saying I am literally the last one of the girls to have got it? Am I late? Is it bad?”

 “No” shouted both Mrs. Gopalan and Ruchi.

 “I want to start by saying - Gitika, you are unique. Most girls get their period when they are 12 but many of them don’t get it until they are 15. Every girl’s body is unique and has its own schedule,” Mrs. Gopalan began.

 Mrs. Gopalan told her that women’s bodies are unique to men’s in many ways. Only women have the power to nourish another human being - a child - in their wombs for nine months.

 Gitika shot more questions. Here are Mrs.Gopalan’s replies to her questions - Frequently Asked Questions on Periods

Every girl’s body will give her some clear clues. Most of the time, a girl will get her period almost two years after her breasts start to develop. Another sign is called vaginal discharge – a fluid (sort of like mucus) that a girl may have seen or felt on her underwear. This discharge begins about six months to a year before a girl actually gets her first period.

The menstruation cycle happens because the body has begun the process of preparing a girl to become a woman, so one day she could give birth to a child if she chooses to.

A period happens because your body is changing. Every female has estrogen and progesterone hormones known as the female hormones that are released by a body part called the ovaries. Now every girl has eggs in her body, and these eggs when fertilized will become babies.

But obviously, nobody wants to become a mother at such a young age. So, our body works out a system. The female hormones create a blood lining of the body part called the uterus (or womb). The purpose of this lining is to create an environment for the fertilized egg to attach to and start developing. When the egg is not fertilized, the lining breaks and comes out in the form of blood.

The blood lining has to break down when the egg is not fertilized inside your body. Since this lining is made of blood, when it breaks down, the blood has to flow out. This is why girls get their periods. It’s nothing but the blood lining, finding no use for itself without a fertilized egg, coming out of the vagina. When the egg is not fertilized, it gets dissolved while the lining flows out of the body.

This process happens every month because the body has to create this fertilization environment for the eggs. And it takes roughly 20 days for the lining to create again.

No. Unless the girl has a physical union with a boy or a man where they have intercourse or sex, a girl cannot get pregnant.

Periods may last from three days to a week in a month. Women will get their periods until they are about 45 or 50 years old. Again, every woman’s body has its own schedule. The only time you won’t have periods is when you are pregnant, because that means the egg gets fertilized remember?

It depends on what you feel comfortable with. But here are your options –

  • Menstrual pad – a diaper-like pad that absorbs the blood. They are both disposable and reusable.
  • Menstrual cup – a medical-grade silicone in a bell-shaped cup with a stem at the bottom. The stem helps in removing the cup. It is placed on the vagina opening to collect the blood. They are reusable.
  • Tampons – a plug made of soft material/cloth inserted into the vagina to absorb menstrual blood

Most girls and women will feel some change in the body before, during, or after their periods. When the blood lining is released out of the body, the abdomen area will squeeze that causing stomach pangs. Many girls also experience backache, headache, or weakness. But it is fairly normal and part of the process.

I don’t recommend girls to pop pills each time they get period pains. A hot water bag kept over the stomach or aching area helps soothe the pain. Cramps relief roll-on may also help reduce the pain. Stay at home and rest for a day or two. Keep yourself hydrated.

You may experience something called Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) before the period begins. Don’t worry, it is just your body’s way of announcing that your periods are near, so prepare. PMS symptoms are mood swings, upset mind, food cravings, trouble falling asleep, poor concentration, and anxiety.

Most girls get periods regularly every month. However, if you experience that you skipped your period in a month or two or you got them too soon, see a doctor. There’s good treatment available and it’s normal to see a doctor for period-related problems. There are many reasons like nutritional changes, travel, stress, or infection due to which you may miss your period.

Yes, your stool will be looser and you are more likely to have a bowel movement. As a result, on the first or second day of your period, you may have to make several trips to the bathroom. Again, it is fairly normal and depends on one person to another.

There’s nothing to be ashamed of

It was Ruchi’s time to speak up.

“Our society puts a taboo on the menstruation cycle of women. But we are the new-age teens. When boys grow facial hair or their voice changes, people make fun of them but it is considered fairly normal. In the same way, we should not be ashamed when we get periods,” Ruchi said.

“You are right. I think we should talk about it openly,” Gitika added.

“The arrival of periods in your life is good news. It means you are on your way to becoming a woman,” Mrs. Gopalan said.

“Hey Gitika, why don’t we take our volleyball team for some ice cream today? You got your first period, let’s celebrate,” offered Ruchi.

“Wow Ruchi, I love that idea! Hell yeah! I wanna celebrate my periods!”

Menstruation Cycle: 5 Ws, 1H

MC or menstruation cycle is a release of blood from a girl’s uterus through her vagina. It is a sign that her body is changing to be a woman.

Most girls get their periods between the ages of 10 and 15.

The body releases the blood because the blood lining made to fertilize the egg inside her uterus needs to be discharged when the egg is not fertilized in a month.
You will feel wetness around your pubic area as a sign that the blood is being discharged.
Any girl aged between 10 and 15 may get it.
Watch out for white mucus-like discharge. You may get your periods roughly within 6 months of the beginning of white discharge. Keep pads handy.

5 facts about the menstruation cycle

  • Every girl will eventually get periods.
  • There’s no right age to get periods.
  • Period pains happen to most girls.
  • Periods are nothing to be ashamed of.
  • Resting during period cramps is the best remedy.

How to track your period?

  • Count the days between your last few periods.
  • Begin counting from the first day of your period to the day before your next period.
  • Do this for a few cycles, and add up the total number of days, dividing it by the number of cycles.
  • That gives you the average number of days in your menstrual cycle.
  • Use period tracking apps on smartphones.

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