Help, I have my first period, what should I do?
Your body has changed over the past few months. Hair appears on your pubis and under your armpits, your breasts gradually enlarge. And maybe for the first time today, you discovered blood when going to the bathroom. There's a little in your panties, a little on the toilet paper. Unless it happened to one of your friends recently and you are now starting to wonder. How to manage your first period? When will they arrive? What protection to choose? Don't panic: we are here to help you, answer your questions and offer you solutions. As people who menstruate, in this article we share all the things we wish we knew when we got our first period.
* This article was written for young girls who are about to have their period or have just had their first period to provide information. If you are a parent looking to support your child, you will find resources and information to better help them through this period!
First of all, know that talking about your period is not taboo!
Let's start at the beginning: periods are not taboo. Contrary to what you may have heard around you, at school or college, there is no shame in having your period . It's normal, natural, healthy, even: it's a sign that your body is developing well if you have your period after all! And this, whatever age you have them: we are all different!
Talking about periods is not taboo
“Ragnagna”, “tricks”, “things”: there is no shortage of words to talk about periods without naming them! We learned, as women, not to talk about periods, to hide them, not to mention them. As if it were shameful, dirty, dangerous.
However, it is not. Periods are natural and healthy. They are proof that our menstruating body is functioning and that our menstrual cycle is underway. So ok, it's not always funny (we'll talk about it again!) but there's nothing shameful about it! Many of us have our periods on this planet! ;)
In other words, don't hold back from talking about periods if you want to . It's normal that you have questions to ask, it's normal that you want to know more. And conversely , you have the right not to talk about it or to talk about it to the people you choose: your body, your choices.
Respect the choices of others regarding rules
YOUR body, YOUR choices.
HIS body, HIS choices.
Kindness means understanding that we all have a different relationship with our bodies and that we can each make our own decisions. This, in general, but also for the question of rules.
In other words, information and solutions that work for you may not necessarily work for your friends. Just because you get your period at 14 doesn't mean all your friends have to get them at 14. Just because you have pain during your period doesn't mean all your friends have it. Or, just because you tolerate tampons well doesn't mean that all your friends do too. And so on !
Kindness, listening and understanding should be the key words when it comes to menstruation. ❤️
How do you broach the subject with the adults around you?
We have just talked about kindness and listening: this also applies to your interactions with adults. Reading an article on the rules is a good way to inform yourself about the rules, but know that you have other referent and responsible people around you to help you and answer you.
The subject of periods is not a taboo subject but it is not necessarily an easy subject to discuss. It's not easy to talk about it during the evening meal or during a family meal! If your loved ones have not broached this subject with you on their own, you can either broach the subject directly during quiet time, or through writing. It is sometimes simpler to write a letter expressing your questions and doubts: this will open the discussion.
Among the people who can accompany you:
- Your parents
- Your extended family: an aunt, a godmother, a cousin…
- Your friends
- Your teachers
- A healthcare professional: if you don't feel comfortable talking to your parents about periods, you can turn to your college nurse or ask to see a doctor with or without your parents. He will be able to answer all of your medical questions.
Menstrual education is important for your health and comfort
Second point that we thought was essential to raise with you: the fact that menstrual education is essential. Understanding how your body and your menstrual cycle work (this is what causes periods, we'll talk about that later) is important.
Indeed, the menstrual cycle and the agitation of hormones that causes it have different repercussions on the bodies of people who menstruate on a daily basis.
- Menstrual pain: migraines, lower abdomen cramps, chest tension
- Mood variation
- Significant fatigue
- Skin issues (hello acne!)
- Fertility: having your period means being old enough to get pregnant. The question of contraception and protection must then arise.
And beyond these sometimes disabling symptoms, understanding your periods and anticipating them can help you avoid moments of significant discomfort and embarrassment (forgetting your menstrual products, untimely overflow, stains, etc.). The more you understand your periods, the more you will know how to manage them and the more confident you will feel, even during your period.
Periods: why do they happen? We explain everything to you
Ok. Kindness, listening, education. The prerequisites are set. Now let's get to the heart of the matter: what are periods? What are they for ?
What is this ?
Periods, also called “menstruation” or “menstruation”, correspond to a flow of blood coming from the uterus and represent one of the stages of the menstrual cycle . Each menstruating person has different periods: their spacing, duration and flow therefore vary greatly from one person to another. There can be short menstrual cycles and long menstrual cycles .
Periods are part of the menstrual cycle
The menstrual cycle is a natural process that occurs every month in menstruating people of childbearing age (between approximately 12 and 50 years old). This cycle, which lasts approximately 28 days (but it varies greatly!), has 4 distinct phases: the follicular phase, ovulation, the luteal phase and periods.
During the follicular phase , ovarian follicles create eggs. One of these eggs matures and is released: this is ovulation . The egg, which has a lifespan of 24 to 48 hours, then travels through the fallopian tubes towards the uterus: this is the moment when you are most fertile. The luteal phase begins as the body prepares for a possible pregnancy. When the body realizes that the egg has not been fertilized, it expels it: your period begins. A new cycle begins at the same time!
What are the rules for?
The role of the rules is therefore to expel from your body the unfertilized egg as well as all of the preparation that your body has made in the event of pregnancy (we are thinking in particular of the endometrium, which is all of the cells which are created in the uterus to properly accommodate the fertilized egg). This is why periods can be quite heavy: it's not just a matter of expelling a tiny egg, but also the endometrium.
Even more, periods are part of the menstrual cycle: without a period, no menstrual cycle and no fertility .
The different rules
There are as many periods as there are menstruating people. If you have the opportunity to talk about it with your family or friends, you will realize that:
- The duration of periods is different in each menstruating person : generally, they last between 2 and 5 days;
- The flow of periods varies a lot: very heavy in some people, to the point of blood clots, very light in others...
- The duration of the menstrual cycle varies: between two periods of periods, some people will count 20 days, while others 30, even 40. And this time can even vary and make the arrival of periods completely unpredictable (this is moreover often the case during the first period).
And also, we tell you again here but your periods can change during your life! The first periods are therefore often irregular (in duration, flow, etc.) and tend to regulate themselves over the course of life. Contraception, pregnancy or even life events (illness, stress) can change the rules !
The different colors of the rules
Beyond the duration and flow, the color of periods can also vary from one day to the next! We tell you everything about the different colors of rules!
- Bright red: periods are bright red on the days when they are heaviest, the flow being fresher and regular. Time, which passes quickly, does not have time to oxidize and darken.
- Dark red: the dark red color is very common, especially when getting up. Indeed, lying down for several hours induces oxidation of the blood in the uterus before it is evacuated. At the end of your period, the blood may also be dark red because it flows more slowly.
- Brown or black: As with dark red blood, you may notice brown or black blood at the very beginning or end of your cycle, when it takes longer for blood to leave your body.
- Light pink: Periods may be light pink when blood mixes with white vaginal discharge, giving this pale color. Other reasons can explain light pink blood such as anemia (lack of iron): anemia is quite common and is not serious but it can make you extremely tired and cause vagal discomfort. Don't hesitate to talk to a trusted adult about it.
- Orange: As with light pink periods, the color orange may be linked to the color of blood that mixes with vaginal discharge. However, it can also have other causes, such as infections. If you have orange periods, pay attention to other symptoms, such as itching sensations, unusual odors or discomfort: if you notice these symptoms, it will be interesting to talk to a trusted adult.
- Gray: Gray-colored periods usually indicate an infection, such as bacterial vaginitis. Pay attention to other signs of infection, such as a bad vaginal odor, a burning sensation when you go to the bathroom, and itching in and around your vagina.
- And white? The white does not correspond to periods but to vaginal discharge, also called cervical mucus. These accompany the menstrual cycle and can be present throughout your menstrual cycle: there is no need to worry!
In other words, it's normal for your period blood to change color during your period. However, light pink, orange or gray periods are not necessarily normal and require you to be attentive to your body and your feelings.
How do you know if you're going to get your period soon? 6 warning signs
Maybe you're stressed to think that your first period could arrive at any time, without warning. It’s true that it’s not the kind of thing you want to have for the first time in sports class… 🥺
To reassure you, know that there are generally some warning signs – even if we are not all in the same boat. Again, all women are different and there is no universal rule.
The onset of periods most often occurs at puberty, when the body evolves and changes. Here are some symptoms you can expect before your first period arrives soon!
Your breasts are developing
This is one of the most well-known puberty symptoms in girls. A source of pride or shame, breast development is often a major source of questions. The development of the breasts is one of the first stages of puberty and is a precursor to the imminent arrival of menstruation - even if there is no real rule between the increase in volume of the breasts and the appearance of menstruation. .
Your hairs are starting to appear
On your pubis and under your armpits, dark hairs start to appear. Like breasts, it is a common sign of puberty and the upcoming arrival of periods. There is, again, no precise link between the appearance of hair and the onset of periods.
You had a growth spurt
Puberty is also marked by growth. Generally, girls' periods come after the main growth spurt. Indeed, once girls have had their first period, it is estimated that they continue to grow for 2 years and that they can still gain up to 10 centimeters.
You have a little acne
Just like body hair, breast growth and growth spurts, the appearance of acne spots on your face, neck or back is a sign that you are going through puberty! Although acne can have several origins, it is often hormonal: you will also notice, when you have your period, that it tends to increase at certain times of your menstrual cycle (just before your period in particular!). In short, if you start to have acne, it is not impossible that your period will appear soon.
Our favorite product
Are you starting to have acne and it's ruining your life? Hormonal acne is a real pain! Discover the Oh my period facial cream from Nidéco . This melting and rebalancing gel soothes your skin and reduces imperfections during the premenstrual period.
You had your first white discharge
Like the first period, the first white discharge can appear both worrying and unsavory. At the bottom of your panties there seems to be a slightly viscous or sticky material, white or translucent in color. We are talking here about white discharge or cervical mucus. It's totally normal and healthy, don't panic! However, the appearance of white discharge indicates that your menstrual and hormonal cycle is starting to get agitated: your first period is approaching.
Just before your first period, you may feel cramps
Last symptom of the imminent approach of your period and not the least: the appearance of menstrual cramps. If you have pain in your lower abdomen, with the impression that it is contracting strangely, it is possible that you are about to have your first period. The pain can therefore start a few days before your period and continue during it. However, be aware that not all women necessarily have stomach pain during their periods and that the pain you feel during your period can change a lot!
👉 Do you think your first period is coming? Our tip
Always keep menstrual protection in your bag (we'll talk about that later). You can store it in a pretty pouch to remain discreet if it bothers you. And then, know that for the majority of us, the first hours of the first period are not heavy: it is very possible that your period comes one day and that you only discover it in the evening when you get home!
What menstrual products can you choose for your first period?
Do you think you're going to have your first period soon or are you going to have them soon and you're wondering which sanitary protection to choose? Let's take a look at the different types of menstrual protection – their advantages, their disadvantages and our favorites in store – as well as the importance of choosing suitable and safe products.
Disposable menstrual pads
Disposable menstrual pads are pads that you place over your panties to absorb the flow of blood flowing out of your body. They are attached to the panties via a self-adhesive strip below the towel, as well as to the wings which keep them in place.
- Practical: disposable menstrual pads are easy to find, they can easily be stored in a small pouch and simply put them in the trash when they are used;
- Inexpensive in the short term: if the solution of disposable menstrual pads is expensive in the long term, a pack of disposable menstrual pads is not very expensive to purchase.
- Adapt to different flows: there are more or less thick towels that can adapt to different types of flow (abundant, normal or light);
- Do not require putting your fingers in your vagina: it can be difficult, even unhygienic and unpleasant, especially at the beginning and in the context of the college toilets, to put your fingers in your bloody vagina...
- Sometimes unpleasant smell: worn for a long time, the towels can give off an unpleasant odor which can make you feel bad and bother you;
- Sometimes unpleasant feeling: even if the towels have good absorption, you may have the impression of being “wet”. And this is especially true if your periods are heavy: you feel the blood flowing and you may have the impression that it is going to overflow and stain;
- Can move and create leaks: even when properly attached with the wings, sanitary napkins can move in your panties (especially when playing sports) and cause a leak. If this risk scares you, know that some people double their protection by putting a sanitary napkin over menstrual panties;
- Possible presence of chemicals: Disposable sanitary napkins may contain chemicals, such as chlorine used to bleach them. This can lead to allergies, irritation and discomfort. If you choose disposable menstrual pads, consider organic sanitary pads, without controversial chemicals;
- Not very good for the environment: like all single-use products (water bottles and plastic straws, diapers, etc.), disposable napkins create pollution.
Our favorite product
Jho's sanitary napkins are made from organic cotton and are fragrance-free. These period pads are super absorbent and very soft, they are perfect to accompany you during your first period!
Washable menstrual pads
Washable menstrual pads are similar to disposable menstrual pads except that they are made of cloth so they are washable and reusable. These are therefore protections to place on your panties to absorb the flow of blood which flows outside your body. They attach to the panties using press studs placed on the wings.
- Adapt to different flows: as with disposable sanitary napkins, there are more or less thick and more or less large napkins that can adapt to different types of flow (abundant, normal or light);
- Do not require putting your fingers in your vagina: it can be difficult, even unhygienic and unpleasant, to put your fingers in your bloody vagina...
- Less expensive in the long term: depending on the duration and flow of your periods, it is necessary to have at least six washable sanitary napkins. However, a towel costs around ten euros minimum: you will therefore need to spend more than €50 to equip yourself the first time! This expense will then be profitable in the long term;
- Good for the environment: Unlike disposable menstrual pads, washable menstrual pads are designed to be used. They therefore have a much longer lifespan (up to 5 years), which makes them better for the environment. What's more, they can be sewn from scraps of existing fabric – which makes them good environmental performers!
- Impractical: less easy to find on the market than disposable menstrual pads, washable menstrual pads should not be thrown away when they are used. It is therefore necessary to have an airtight bag with you to store them (they do not smell very good). Even more, you have to remember to wash them correctly to enjoy them for a long time;
- Sometimes unpleasant odor: worn for a long time, washable towels can give off an unpleasant odor which can make you feel bad;
- Sometimes unpleasant feeling: even if your washable towel has good absorption, you may have the unpleasant feeling of being “wet”. Even more, some towels are quite thick: feeling them under you when you sit down is not necessarily pleasant;
- Can move and create leaks: even well hung with the wings, washable towels are likely to move (especially when playing sports), causing a leak. If this risk scares you, know that some people double their protection by putting a sanitary napkin over menstrual panties;
- Possible presence of chemicals: washable sanitary napkins may contain chemicals, depending on how the fabric has been treated and then depending on the detergent you use to clean them. This can lead to allergies, irritation and discomfort. If you choose washable menstrual pads, opt for fabrics certified with the Oeko Tex label which guarantees the absence of chemicals in the product's fabrics.
Unlike menstrual pads which collect period blood as it flows out of the body, tampons are placed inside the vagina to intercept blood inside the body. The tampon can be placed with an applicator or directly with the finger, while the extraction of the tampon is carried out using a small string attached to the tampon.
- Practical: Widely democratized, tampons are easy to find commercially. They take up little space and can easily be stored in a pocket. Once used, simply throw them in a trash can;
- Adapt to different flows: there are buffers for more or less heavy flows (generally, there are three proposals: light, normal and heavy flow);
- Inexpensive in the short term: if the tampon solution is expensive in the long term, a pack of disposable tampons is not very expensive to purchase;
- Limited odor: Because tampons are placed inside the body, they do not emit a strong odor when worn. However, they can give off an unpleasant odor when thrown in a trash can;
- Fairly low risk of leaking: the risks of leaking are much lower with tampons than with napkins if you remember to change them regularly. If you have heavy periods, the trick is to pair a tampon with menstrual panties or a disposable or washable sanitary napkin;
- Adapt to the pool/sea: you can totally swim with a tampon! They absorb blood and allow you to enjoy the water if you want!
- Requires learning time: the tampon is a protection that requires a little knowledge of your body. You might have trouble putting it on correctly the first few times! Our advice: wear tampons when you're at home initially, in case you have to remove them. Furthermore, if your tampon hurts, it is most certainly because it is incorrectly placed in your vagina! Please note: there are tampons with applicators and without applicators: the former are easier to put on but more expensive and more polluting.
- Require inserting something into your vagina: when you start discovering your body, inserting a tampon into your vagina is not easy. You may feel uncomfortable with this idea at first: wait until you're ready to put in a tampon. As we have seen, there are plenty of other solutions!
- Need to be changed regularly: you may have heard of them. Tampons can cause a serious health problem, toxic shock. The latter can occur when blood remains stagnant in the body for too long: this is why it is essential to change your tampon regularly. It is estimated that it should not be kept on for more than 4 hours in a row. This is why you should not use tampons to protect yourself at night.
- Possible presence of chemicals: Tampons may contain chemicals, such as chlorine used to whiten them. This can lead to allergies, irritation and discomfort. If you choose tampons, consider getting them organic, without controversial chemicals;
- Presence of a foreign body in the body: studies are not yet very clear on the impact of placing a foreign body in the body;
- Not very good for the environment: like all single-use products (water bottles and plastic straws, diapers, etc.), tampons create pollution.
Our favorite product
To get started with tampons, if this is the protection you want to use, the easiest way is to take tampons with an applicator. Our favorites are the tampons with applicator from the Jho brand . Entirely organic, they exist in normal absorption and great to follow you whatever your flow.
The menstrual cup
As its English name suggests, the menstrual cup is a small silicone cup that can be placed inside the vagina to collect blood within it. It works according to the suction cup system, thus clinging to the walls of the vagina. Simply pinch it to extract it and empty it.
- Adapts to different flows: there are cups for more or less heavy flows (generally, there are three options: light, normal and heavy flow);
- Cheapest solution: a cup costs around twenty euros to purchase and can last up to 5 years;
- Limited odor: Because the cup is placed inside the body, it does not emit a strong odor when worn. As its contents are emptied each time you change, it does not emit an odor in the trash. Our tip for a feeling of total cleanliness: empty your cup in the shower!
- Fairly low risk of leaking: the risks of leaking are much less significant with the cup if it is worn correctly and if you remember to change it regularly. If you have heavy periods, the tip is to wear a cup + menstrual panties (or a disposable or washable sanitary napkin);
- Adapt to the swimming pool/the sea: you can totally swim with a cup, the suction cup effect allows it to remain effective! It allows you to enjoy the water if you want!
- Allows you to have good visibility of your flow: unlike other means of protection, the cup allows you to know exactly the nature of your menstrual flow (when it is abundant, less abundant, when it increases, decreases, etc.). You clearly visualize the blood you lose (which can disgust you… it’s the most negative part);
- Very good for the environment: not only is the material of the cup recyclable (it is made of medical silicone) but it has a long lifespan which makes it particularly interesting for limiting waste.
- (Very) Impractical: the cup is the hygienic protection that is the least practical to use. First, you have to find the right size. Then, it must be sterilized before each period (put it in boiling water for approximately 5 minutes). Finally, you must be able to have access to a toilet with access to water to be able to rinse it and clean your hands when changing it;
- Requires learning time: even more than the tampon, the cup is a protection that requires having a certain knowledge of your body. Allow around 2-3 cycles before you can put it on easily! Our advice: wear the cup when you are at home initially, in case you need to take it off to put it back correctly. Furthermore, if you feel your cup, it is because it is incorrectly positioned or not the right size!
- Requires inserting something into your vagina: when you start to discover your body, inserting a cup into your vagina is not easy. You may feel uncomfortable with this idea at first: wait until you're ready to take the plunge. As we have seen, other solutions exist!
- Needs to be changed regularly: like tampons, cups are also the cause of a serious health problem, toxic shock (we remain in the conditional because there are fewer studies regarding cups!). Avoid keeping your cup on for too long – 4 hours straight is enough. This is why you should not use tampons to protect yourself at night.
- Presence of a foreign body in the body: if the medical silicone which makes up the cup is supposed to be particularly safe, studies are not yet very clear on the impact of placing a foreign body in the body.
Our favorite product
The menstrual cup is an interesting protection although it requires a little time to get used to (it may be a little difficult to use at first). We really like the medical silicone cup from the Jho brand because it has a stem that makes it easier to handle – perfect for getting started. It comes in two sizes: normal flow and heavy flow.
Period panties are, as their name suggests, panties that have built-in menstrual protection. Menstrual panties have particularly developed over the last ten years to become one of the most popular means of protection for women. It is particularly interesting for first periods because it is non-intrusive, limits the risk of leakage and is rather easy to implement! As a bonus, menstrual panties are washable which allows for better respect for the environment.
A little swimsuit aside! In recent years, you may have seen that there are also menstrual swimsuits. Although it is not recommended to swim with these swimsuits (it is not risky but the absorption will necessarily be less!), they will allow you to enjoy the beach and avoid putting on a tampon.
- Adapt to different flows: there are menstrual panties for more or less heavy flows (generally, there are three options: light, normal and heavy flow);
- Less expensive in the long term: depending on the duration and flow of your periods, it is necessary to have at least six washable menstrual panties. However, menstrual panties cost around twenty euros minimum: you will therefore need to spend more than €100 to equip yourself the first time! This expense will then be profitable in the long term since the panties can be kept for around 2 years (if you keep the same size);
- Do not require learning time: menstrual panties are put on like normal panties. It just needs to be rinsed with cold water and washed at 30°C. It therefore has the merit of being easy to use!
- Relatively low risk of leakage: the risk of leakage is low with menstrual panties because they fit your shape and do not move. However, it is necessary to choose panties with a flow adapted to your flow (if you take panties for light flow when your flow is heavy, you risk being uncomfortable!). Our tip if you have heavy periods: put a sanitary napkin over the menstrual panties;
- Important comfort: while pads can sometimes give the impression of wearing “a diaper” because they move or are thick, this is not the case with menstrual panties, even for heavy flows. They are very pleasant to wear!
- Very good for the environment: the long lifespan of menstrual panties makes them a more ecological solution than disposable protection.
- Impractical: although menstrual panties have the advantage of being comfortable, they have several disadvantages. First, it can be difficult to choose your brand at first (we have selected our favorites for you on our site!). Furthermore, dirty and full menstrual panties may need to be changed during the day in the event of a heavy flow: you must then have spare panties + an airtight pouch to store your dirty panties. Intermediate solution: put a disposable sanitary napkin on your menstrual panties. So, you spend the first part of the day with the sanitary napkin and once it is dirty, you throw it away, and you have the menstrual panties for the second part of the day!
- Sometimes unpleasant odor: worn for a long time, menstrual panties can give off an unpleasant odor which can make you feel bad;
- Sometimes unpleasant sensation: even if your menstrual panties have good absorption, you may have the unpleasant feeling of being “wet”, especially if you have a heavy flow;
- Possible presence of chemicals: period panties may contain chemicals, depending on how the fabric has been treated and then depending on the detergent you use to clean them. This can lead to allergies, irritation and discomfort. If you choose menstrual panties, opt for fabrics certified with the Oeko Tex label which guarantees the absence of chemicals in the product's fabrics.
Our favorite products
We think period panties are the best option for the first period! This is why we recently released a pack of menstrual panties suitable for teenagers from the Smoon brand . They exist for regular flows and heavy flows. They are comfortable, effective without leaking, invisible and odorless.
Do you like going to the beach and are you considering getting a menstrual swimsuit to avoid tampons and feel good? Go and discover our menstrual swimsuit from the Smoon brand available from 10 to 16 years old! Its advantage? It can also serve as a menstrual leotard if you do dance or gymnastics!
The importance of choosing products that are suitable for you and safe
As we finish this detailed presentation of the different solutions available to you to protect yourself during your first period, we wanted to emphasize the importance of choosing products that are adapted to your needs and are safe.
Not only are periods not an easy time of the month, but they also affect your body. This is why it is essential that you feel good and comfortable with the sanitary protection you have chosen. It's not because someone you know uses tampons that you necessarily have to start with tampons: it may be normal that you don't feel comfortable with this method of protection! Do it at your own pace. Some women wear pads their whole lives and cannot stand tampons: it is their absolute right! If you want to try new methods of protection (notably cup and tampon), don't hesitate to do it when you have your period on the weekend, at home. This way you can go to the toilet easily and check that everything is okay!
Beyond this question of adapting your protection to you, it is important to pay attention to your health. Menstrual protection touches an intimate and fragile area. Favoring protections without controversial chemicals and paying attention to how you use your protections (avoid wearing tampons and cups for more than 4 hours in a row in particular) is important!
Better manage your periods at school or during outings with friends
No need to feel guilty: everyone who menstruates has already tied a sweatshirt around their waist to hide a period stain on their butt! 😶🌫️Let's make sure together that this happens to you as little as possible! Here are tips and solutions to better manage your periods at school or during your outings!
Better manage your periods at school
Does having your period at school make you anxious? Are you afraid of being taken by surprise? We give you our tips for better managing your periods when you have them at school or when they occur at school!
A perfect protection combo for school
We all have very different flows! And for people who have heavy flows, the idea of spending several hours in a classroom without access to a toilet can be particularly stressful! Here is our perfect combo to better manage your periods at school on days when your flow is heavy:
- In the morning, put on menstrual panties in your size and adapted to your flow. Put disposable sanitary protection on top.
- At lunchtime, when you go to the toilet, the disposable sanitary protection will be dirty. Throw it in the toilet trash. You can wrap it in toilet paper to have peace of mind. Then, either you put on disposable sanitary protection if you have a heavy flow, or you don't put anything back on: your menstrual panties will protect you for the afternoon.
- In the middle of the afternoon, you can remove the disposable sanitary protection a second time and let your menstrual panties protect you until the evening.
- In the evening, change. Put on clean period panties and wash your period panties.
The advantage of this solution is that it prevents you from having dirty menstrual panties in your bag. This is a solution for menstruating people who have heavy periods: if your flow is light, menstrual panties can last a full day without leaking!
A solution to never be surprised: the first aid kit
Does having your period during the school day make you anxious? It's true that it's not always easy to ask your friends or teachers for hygienic protection! To avoid this unpleasant moment, we can only recommend that you put together a first aid kit!
In a small fabric bag, put:
- your favorite sanitary protection (two, three sanitary napkins, or two, three tampons or menstrual panties);
- a change of panties, if you wear pads and tampons, in case you stain yourself;
- intimate wipes
You're all set if your period ever arrives at a time you weren't expecting!
And don't forget to refill your first aid kit every time you dig into it to avoid finding yourself in trouble! To avoid forgetting, we recommend that you always put back in your bag in the evening what you took the same day.
To manage your leaks
Leaks or that moment when you check your chair to make sure you haven't left blood everywhere... We all hate that moment! To avoid this, here are some tips!
- Choose the right protection: if you have a heavy flow, you need to adopt protections adapted to your flow and therefore certainly more absorbent. Towels, tampons, panties and cups come in different formats for suitable absorption.
- Change regularly: protection (whether a towel, a tampon, a menstrual cup, etc.) must be changed regularly to avoid spillage. Generally, we say that you need to change every 4 hours, but for some people it will be necessary to change every 2 hours.
To feel fresh and clean
We repeat it for form's sake: periods are not dirty. That being said, we can have this feeling and wearing certain protections such as towels can give the impression of not being very fresh!
- Do regular washing: It is essential to wash regularly with lukewarm water to feel fresh. You can use specialized soaps like the intimate soap from the Jho brand to feel clean while protecting your intimate flora but it is not obligatory: water is enough. In general, avoid douching and using scented soaps: they can unbalance the vaginal flora.
- Use intimate wipes: if you feel the need, opt for fragrance-free intimate wipes to refresh yourself during the day, especially after changing your sanitary protection. They are particularly useful after sports or when traveling.
- Change your underwear: if possible, carry a spare panty in case of a leak. You will feel better!
The clothes to favor
No white pants when your period is approaching : it's a rule that the majority of women know and apply when it comes to clothing! But this is also the case for other tips that we give you here!
- Favor dark colors: to avoid stress, we recommend that you avoid jeans and light pants during your period or when they are approaching! (We'll give you some tools later to monitor the appearance of your periods!)
- Avoid thin fabrics: along the same lines, avoid wearing clothes that are too thin! The traces will be seen more quickly and we don't want that!
- Opt for loose cuts: if you tend to have stomach pain or chest pain during your period, opting for loose cuts, which don't tighten you too much, will be more pleasant!
- Bring a jacket or a sweater: when you are not sure of yourself or when there has been a leak, tying a sweater around your waist helps hide the misery...
How to follow your rules?
💡Did you know? You can follow your period and know when it will come back! To do this, it is possible to learn how to calculate your menstrual cycle and use applications to understand it better.
A little aside before we begin
In the following points, we will tell you how to learn to calculate your menstrual cycle and tell you about the different applications that allow you to track your menstrual cycle. However, it is essential that you understand that as a young menstruator, you should be aware that your periods are likely to be very irregular. In fact, it often takes time for hormones to stabilize! In the first two or three years of your period, it is possible that your cycle is irregular:
- the number of days between periods can vary (in other words the length of your cycle), making your periods quite unpredictable and requiring you to always have your first aid kit ready to avoid accidents!
- the length of your period can vary: having periods that last two days, then seven, then four is quite common among young women.
- the flow of your periods can vary: if the first periods are often quite light, they can suddenly be heavier from one cycle to the next. In other words, remember to always have protection in your bag!
- the symptoms associated with your period can vary: it is possible that you have no symptoms at first, then that you have a very bad stomach ache, then nothing again... It is often variable and for now, it is not It's not just linked to adolescence. Some women have different symptoms associated with their periods all their life!
Learn to calculate your menstrual cycle
The number of days between your period depends on the length of your cycle: in other words, if your cycle is 20 days long, there will be 20 days between the start of your period. This is why knowing the length of your menstrual cycle can allow you to estimate when your next period will occur (if you are regular – if you are not, this time will vary…). Knowing your menstrual cycle will have other advantages: it will allow you to better understand your body and the symptoms associated with your periods (stomach pain, breast pain, headache, etc.).
To calculate the length of your menstrual cycle, it's quite simple:
- When your period arrives, it's day 1 of your cycle;
- Then count down to your next period. If they arrive at day 22, your cycle lasts 22 days. If they arrive at day 38, your cycle lasts 38 days. And so on ;
- Repeat the operation at least 3 months in a row: in some people the cycle is regular (it always lasts 23 days for example). For others, this is not the case and big differences can be observed. Calculating the length of your cycle several months in a row will allow you to know if you are regular or if you are irregular. If you are regular, you will be able to easily anticipate when your next period will arrive, otherwise, you will need to be attentive to the signals from your body (pain, vaginal discharge, etc.).
Know your cycle better: cycle tracking applications
To make your calculations easier and/or track your cycle so you know when your next period will arrive, you can use a cycle tracking app . The advantage is that it's super practical: you just have to indicate on your application when your period takes place and the application takes care of estimating the date when your next period will take place. Applications also have the advantage of “learning”. So, if you correctly inform the application with the first day of your period and the duration of your period, the application will be able to predict when your period will take place and how long it will last. Practical for anticipating!
We recently offered a long article on menstrual cycle tracking apps . In summary, we recommend Clue or Flo Health which have sufficient free features for period tracking and which have the advantage of being in French. But don't hesitate to read this article to select the application that suits you best!
How to manage your period pain
In recent years, we have been talking more and more about pain linked to the menstrual cycle. Maybe you've already heard of endometriosis, PMS or PCOS (if not, no worries, we'll talk about it later!). Without necessarily having these illnesses, it is possible that you suffer during your period. Where does the pain come from, what are the “normal” symptoms and what solutions exist to have less pain and manage it better: we talk about it!
First of all, where do period pain come from?
Dysmenorrhea refers to menstrual pain that appears during periods, several days per cycle, for years. Generally, dysmenorrhea appears 6 to 24 months after the first period, when the ovulation mechanism takes place.
During menstruation, the uterus produces inflammatory substances called prostaglandins. These cause muscle contractions facilitating the expulsion of blood. It is these contractions that cause severe pain, in the form of cramps.
“Normal” symptoms linked to menstruation
Different symptoms are therefore associated with periods. They can be more or less painful and bothersome depending on the cycle and you may feel them all at the same time – or not.
Cramps in the lower abdomen or back
Menstrual cramps are the first symptom associated with periods because they are the most common! If it affects the lower abdomen, they can be felt all the way to the lower back and legs! They are “normal” but not necessarily pleasant: there are different ways to relieve them. However, if medications are not enough to soothe them, it may be necessary to consult because they may be a sign of a pathology.
In the days before your period, you are likely to feel a feeling of tightness in your chest. As if it were fuller, heavier. It pulls on you and is painful when you move. Don't panic: this is a very common symptom among menstruating people!
Diarrhea or constipation
Digestive problems are very common among menstruating people as their period approaches. In addition to a feeling of bloating, you may be constipated or on the contrary have diarrhea (fun!). There is no real miracle solution, but the more you hydrate regularly, the more you should be able to fight against this symptom.
As your period approaches, you may have headaches. Headaches related to menstruation are called menstrual migraines or catamenial migraines. You can limit them by taking drinks containing caffeine (coffee, coke), painkillers or even by sleeping (fatigue tends to intensify migraines!).
Nausea or vomiting
If nausea is often associated with pregnancy, it is less known that it can also be associated with periods... and yet. You may feel nauseous during your period, this is a common symptom. Even more, if your menstrual pain is very severe, it is possible that it makes you want to vomit (if this is the case, remember to consult a doctor: such severe pain is not normal).
How to relieve these symptoms?
These symptoms can be of different intensities as your period approaches and during the first days of your period. To manage your periods better, there are several solutions!
Take a painkiller
You don't have to suffer. If you only take one thing from this article, it's probably this. You don't have to suffer (we repeat!). This is useless. So if your pain (menstrual cramps and catamenial migraines) is too bad, take a painkiller.
👉What if that's not enough? If this is not enough for several menstrual cycles, consult a doctor. Not only will he be able to give you more sedatives, but he will be able to carry out additional tests to check that everything is okay. Plus, you can also try the other tips below!
Heat is a muscle relaxant. It will help reduce the feeling of cramps that you feel. In addition to taking a hot bath, you can use hot water bottles and heating patches. Be careful when using them: these devices can be very hot and cause serious injury.
Massaging sensitive areas helps heat them and thus reduce pain.
To support you in your massages, you can use different products that will help you soothe the pain you feel:
- You can also apply a warming balm to relieve pain. Jho offers a balm to apply locally to sensitive areas . With a slightly minty hot-cold effect and 100% natural ingredients, its virtues are both calming for lower stomach or back pain;
- The Happy Cycles soothing body serum from the Miyé brand has a texture that is similar to massage oil. This natural treatment is decongestant and soothing and allows you to massage painful areas, such as the stomach and chest.
It's true that it's not necessarily the first thing you want when you get your period, but exercising and playing sports is actually a good way to relax. Indeed, the endorphin that is generated by practicing sport helps calm menstrual pain. So if you feel like you can exercise during your period, try it! ;)
Take time to relax
There are different practices that will invite you to focus on your feelings and sensations to allow you to better manage pain:
- Deep breathing
- ASMR: this set of auditory stimuli can help you relax. There are many ASMR artists and listening to their videos and podcasts can help you relax and sleep better.
Take action on your diet
To limit pain and avoid problems related to transit, your diet can
- Favor anti-inflammatory foods: Inflammatory foods like gluten can tend to make menstrual cramps worse. In the context of endometriosis, for example, it is common to limit gluten to reduce pain;
- Reduce caffeine: As a stimulant, caffeine can tend to increase pain. Reducing your consumption of coke and coffee in the few days before your period helps limit the pain induced by caffeine;
- Eat fruits and vegetables rich in fiber: this advice will help you fight against transit difficulties!
- Limit sugar: while sugar helps resolve emotional issues, it also tends to increase depressive states and mood swings. So if you tend to feel very down because of your period, try as much as possible not to consume sugar.
When to consult a doctor ?
It is generally accepted that pain that does not go away with a traditional painkiller (Spasfon, Ibuprofen) is not normal. It is possible to have this type of very severe pain during a single cycle without it being serious or requiring you to see a doctor: as a young menstruator, your hormones are still establishing themselves and it It is possible that sometimes you suffer from it. It is necessary to speak to a doctor if this severe pain repeats itself during several consecutive menstrual cycles or on a regular basis. He will suggest solutions and carry out additional examinations.
Myths and misconceptions about periods
We end this article with quite a few assertions that you must have heard here and there… and which turn out (spoiler alert!) for the most part to be completely false! Let’s deconstruct these preconceived ideas together!
Periods are dirty or impure
❌ This is false!
Periods are natural and are a sign that you are healthy!
The idea that periods are dirty refers to ancient beliefs that are still well-anchored and still held within certain cultures. Previously, we did not make the link between periods and fertility; this is why periods were seen as dirty. Since then, mentalities have gradually changed, but sometimes we still consider periods to be dirty or a little disgusting.
If you wash regularly and change your sanitary products regularly, there is no reason for you to feel dirty during your period. However, if the smell of your period bothers you, you can use intimate wipes when you go to the bathroom to limit this discomfort!
We shouldn't exercise during our period
❌ This is false!
It is totally possible to do sports during your period. Walking, running, swimming… all this is possible during your period. Moreover, the professional footballers of the England national team specifically asked to have dark-colored shorts so they could play without fear of a leak! This is proof that sport and rules are not opposed!
That being said, you may feel too much pain and fatigue to exercise during your period. We are all different and it is possible that during a particular menstrual cycle or that every time you have your period you cannot practice sport. In this case, ask your doctor for a medical certificate. You can also ask for tests and medication to avoid suffering too much!
You can't get pregnant during your period
❌ This is false!
This belief is linked to the fact that ovulation always takes place 14 days before menstruation. Since the majority of women have long cycles of more than 23 days, ovulation and periods almost never coincide – which is why we tend to believe that we cannot get pregnant during our periods.
- Some women have shorter cycles: if their period lasts 7 days, the fertile time and the period may coincide!
- Adolescents often have irregular cycles with hormones not yet very well regulated: it is totally possible that two eggs are released at different times of the menstrual cycle and that you are fertile during your period!
- During adolescence, fertility is at its peak. There are greater risks of getting pregnant (two eggs released, irregular cycles, etc.)
And in general, beyond pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS can be transmitted during sexual intercourse which takes place during menstruation. So protect yourself with a condom!
Tampons (and cups) can rupture the hymen
❌ This is false!
The idea is quite widespread: tampons and cups could break the hymen and make young girls lose their “virginity”.
The hymen is a membrane present at the entrance to the vagina. Contrary to popular belief, it does not break during the first sexual intercourse but relaxes. Inserting cups and tampons into the vagina effectively helps relax the hymen.
If you regularly wear tampons and/or a cup, it is possible that your hymen will be more flexible and that you will not bleed during your first penetrative sex.
We will add here in passing that:
- Not all women have a hymen!
- Hymen rupture is often associated with virginity, but you don't have to bleed when you first have sex.
Periods should last exactly one week
❌ This is false!
We have repeated it several times in this article: the duration of periods is very variable in menstruating people and even more, the duration of periods can depend on the menstrual cycle.
In other words, it is normal to have a 2-day period. Or 3 days. But also a week. It is also possible (and normal) to have a 2-day period once and another time to have a week-long period. This irregularity can be complicated to manage but it is not abnormal.
All menstruating people who have their period have changeable or unstable moods
❌ This is false!
“So, are you on your period or something?” The idea that women are nervous in the days before their period arrives is widespread. Hysteria is even a disease historically associated with women and their mood swings!
And yet. Just like there are women who have periods lasting 2 days or 7 days, there are women who are very nervous and irritable just before their period while others have no mood swings at all!
If you feel really bad when your period arrives (difficulty managing your emotions, very sad or even depressed state, panic attack, etc.) don't hesitate to talk to your loved ones and/or your doctor. Some menstruating people suffer particularly when their period arrives and there are solutions to limit these problems such as taking hormonal contraception such as the pill which smooths out the effects of hormones in the body.
All women experience period pain
❌ It’s (again) false!
At the risk of repeating ourselves, there are no rules when it comes to periods! While some women may experience excruciating pain during their period, others may experience no pain at all. Likewise, it is possible that one menstrual cycle passes without any pain while another is much more complicated to manage... It varies greatly.
If you experience severe pain, do not hesitate to talk to your loved ones and/or a doctor. It is not normal to suffer. You can start taking painkillers to limit your suffering and, if the pain persists, your doctor may suggest additional tests to see what is happening.
Readings to explore the subject of puberty
Would you like to know more about puberty? Here are some books to discover to go further on this subject!
Julia Pietri's guide to pussy sex (Volume 2)
Julia Pietri is the founder of the Clito Gang, a feminist media outlet. With The Guide to the Sexual Pussy (volume 2, suitable for 12-16 year olds) , she takes the opposite view from Titeuf's Guide to the Sexual Zizi . In addition to pictorial explanations of the anatomy of the vulva, clitoris, vagina and even the penis, she addresses the notion of respect, consent and emotions. This book, aimed at boys and girls, advocates gender equality and allows you to learn more about periods, body hair, friendship and love! To discover !
Zep and Hélène Bruller's guide to sexual willy
From the first emotions to puberty through the conception of babies,
The Sexual Wisdom Guide answers all the questions you may have about love and sexuality. Accompanied by Titeuf, the teenager who has become emblematic of the author Zep, you discover the notions of consent, identity and even diversity. What is it like to date? Do we have to make love? What are rules for? What is a condom? With humor and without taboo, this guide creates dialogue, asks the right questions and gives all the answers!
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Bienvenue sur Gapianne
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