My First Period
Welcome to the club.
So… you’ve just gotten your First Period!
Here at Riley, we’re on a mission to normalise all things period related, so let's debunk some myths and dive into what’s really happening to your body.
Feeling excited, confused - not sure what to expect? We’ve got you covered.
Don’t worry, you’re not alone. We’re in this together and the changes happening to your body is the most normal thing in the world. There’s absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about and we’re going to explain everything.
Here are some of the topics we're going to cover:
- PERIOD 101
- HOW TO USE PERIOD PRODUCTS
- WHAT TO EXPECT
Periods are a sign that you’ve reached puberty, something everybody goes through. Our first period usually happens between the ages of 12 or 13, but could begin as early as aged 8 or as late as aged 17. There is no “normal age” and our periods start when our body begins to produce reproductive hormones. This usually is at the same time as the development of what are known as 'secondary sex characteristics', such as pubic hair, enlarged breasts and widened hips.
Simply put - it is when a female's body releases tissue it no longer needs, and causes some bleeding.
Every month your ovaries release an egg; if it was fertilised by sperm it would make a baby. At the same time, blood and nutrients are produced to cushion your womb in case the egg has not been fertilised. If the egg doesn't get fertilised, that lining is released from the body as blood through the vagina as they’re no longer needed. Say hello to your period blood, or menstrual fluid if we’re being scientific.
The menstrual cycle includes not just your period, but also the rise and fall of hormones and other body changes that take place over the duration of the entire monthly cycle.
On average each cycle lasts 28 days, but everyone is different as to how long their periods last and how many days come between them. On average bleeding usually lasts 4-5 days. Periods take place every month (roughly!) as part of the menstrual cycle. The first day of each cycle starts with your period, when the body releases an unfertilised egg in the form of blood.
Everyone’s periods can differ. The volume of blood lost varies throughout the cycle and for every woman. It is usually heavier in the first few days and then lighter towards the end of your period. The colour of the blood also varies so don’t worry if you’re seeing a mix of colours throughout. Sometimes the blood is darker and more intense red at the beginning of your period compared to the end when it can be a lot lighter and more brown in colour.
The important thing to remember is everyone has their own period pattern so it is totally normal to have a heavy period or a light one. Neither is better or worse than the other!
At first, your periods may not be regular, you may have two in one month, or have a month with no period at all. Your periods will become more regular in time....so try not to stress.
If you want to study your own pattern, try keeping a diary or using an app on your phone (if you have one) to track the first day of each period. Keeping track will help you to plan ahead for your next period so you can avoid any surprises!
The actual flow of your period doesn’t feel like much when it’s happening. Chances are, you won’t even feel it. When you actually start your period, you may feel some dampness down below — this may be caused by a few spots of blood on your underwear.
Your period begins and your flow is at its heaviest. You may also experience stomach cramps which is totally normal.
Your body sheds the rest of the tissue in your womb. This can sometimes come out in lumps that are dark in colour, which is totally normal.
Your flow start to become lighter and your cramps should have eased up or be gone altogether.
The bleeding is usually gone.
Your body should feel relaxed as your period ends.
Ovulation happens and your hormone levels are on the rise meaning you should be more energised.
Your hormones are shifting which may cause you to feel some bloated or moodiness (again - this is totally normal!)
Hormone levels slump causing you to feel tired.
Hormones are at their lowest so you may experience some PMS. (Tip: If you don't know what this means - check our FAQ section below where we explain!)
The end of the menstrual cycle. Some women can get cramps which will give you the heads up that your period is about to begin again.
And around the circle continues each month.
Whilst this may seem slightly overwhelming, remember that over half of the population go through this and you're definitely not alone. The more periods you have, the more regular they become and you'll start to understand your body and moods more in time.
HOW TO USE PERIOD PRODUCTS
Everyone has a personal preference as to what products they like to use. For some it’s pads, for others it's tampons, and many people like a mix. Tampons can come with or without an applicator. An applicator is simply used to insert your tampon a little easier. Tampons and pads also come in different absorbency levels, so you can use the right one depending on what your flow is like that day.
In your First Period Box we’ve included useful information on what to expect with menstruation. It can be a lot to digest so take your time learning about your period.
You’ll also find a mix of pads, applicator tampons and naked tampons for you to try, so you can figure out what suits you best. We're all unique and what will work for one person might not work for the next. The only way to figure that out is to give them a go. Don't be scared - we explain how to use them all step by step.
You can expect:
- 3 x Day Pads
- 3 x Night Pads
- 2 x Regular Applicator Tampons
- 2 x Super Applicator Tampons
- 2 x Regular Naked Tampons
- 2 x Super Naked Tampons
1. Using a Sanitary Pad
At Riley, our pads are made with 100% Organic Cotton meaning they are eco-friendly (unlike traditional pads that can contain up to 90% plastic...crazy, right?). They also contain no toxins, harmful chemicals, bleach or perfumes - so you can rest assured you are not putting anything but natural ingredients down there! We have also designed them with wings for a more secure fit.
Step 1: First open the wrapper and peel the pad away from the wrapper. The inside of the pad should feel sticky. Place the sticky side of the pad face down in your knickers.
Step 2: Peel back the wings on the top of the pad and fold them underneath your underwear to secure the pad to make sure it doesn’t budge.
Step 3: Whenever you go to the toilet, keep an eye on the pad and when it looks like it has absorbed a lot of blood/fluid, remove it and replace it with a new one (approx. every 3-6 hours).
Step 4: Wrap the old Riley pad in the new pad wrapper and you can dispose of it in a waste bin or a compost bin and it will decompose in 12 months. Make sure not to flush the used pad down the toilet, as this will end up in our oceans harming sea life.
2. Using a Tampon
Our eco-friendly tampons are also made with 100% certified organic cotton and the string is cleverly woven to ensure there is no glue and no toxins present. We have applicator tampons (the applicators are made from sugar cane, which is a renewable source and can be recycled) and non-applicator or 'naked' tampons (without applicators) as we call them. The choice to use one over the other is simply down to personal preference. The wrappers the tampons come in are compostable, so treat them like you would a compostable coffee cup.
Tampons are a great alternative to pads as they absorb the blood from inside the vagina. So it can be a useful choice if you like being active or going swimming and are worried about a pad being seen. While they may seem scary at first, they're really easy to insert and are super comfortable when you get used to them!
Step 1: Wash your hands. Remove the applicator tampon from its wrapper and pull down the inner tube. Hold the applicator at the grooved ridge with your thumb and middle finger.
Step 2: Place the rounded tip at the entrance to the vagina, pointed at a slight angle towards your lower back.
Step 3: Push the outer tube into the vagina until your finger and thumb touch the entrance of your vagina.
Step 4: Continue to hold the outer tube firmly & use your index finger to push the inner tube completely into the outer tube. The tampon will be pushed into place. Pull your hand away to take out both tubes, leaving the string hanging outside your body.
(Top Tip: You shouldn't be able to feel the tampon - if it's uncomfortable then it isn't inserted far enough so you'll need to push it further into your vagina.)
(Note: These are just like the applicator tampons above, however instead of using an applicator, you use your index finger instead to insert the tampon!)
Step 1: Wash your hands. Remove the naked tampon from its wrapper by tearing the tape and sit or stand in a comfortable position. Some women prefer to stand up and put one leg up on the toilet or tub, others prefer to remain sitting, or squat down.
Step 2: Pull on the string at the bottom of the tampon so it hangs loose.
Step 3: Hold the tampon in one hand and with your free hand, gently open the skin around the vaginal opening.
Step 4: Find the dent in the tampon where the string is attached. Pull the string back and forth and around in a circle, to create a space for your finger. Hold the tampon with your thumb and middle finger. Using your index finger, push the tampon as high as you can into your vagina pushing towards your lower back.
Step 5: When the tampon is in right, you wont feel it. If you do, push it in a little bit further. But always make sure to keep the string hanging outside your body. Wash your hands and you're done.
You should change your tampon every 4-6 hours depending on your flow. If you start to feel your tampon, or it is beginning to leak, it is a sign to change it.
First wash your hands and then gently pull on the string to pull the tampon out slowly. Remember don't flush your tampon down the toilet. Instead, wrap it in the new wrapper, or some tissue, and put it into the waste bin or a compost bin where it will decompose.
Very Important: If you choose to use tampons over pads, make sure to change your tampons frequently – at least every 4-6 hours to reduce the risk of developing Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). If you want to find out more about TSS we’ve written a very handy blog on it here.
WHAT TO EXPECT
The actual flow of your period doesn’t feel like much when it’s happening. Chances are, you won’t even feel it. When you actually start your period, you may feel some dampness in your private area — this may be caused by a few spots of blood on your underwear.
Nope - well it shouldn’t! Menstrual odour happens when menstrual fluid comes in contact with air. When menstrual fluid is absorbed within the vagina, like through a tampon, it is not exposed to the air, so there shouldn’t be an odour. If you’re feeling worried, just be sure to change your pads and tampons frequently to help keep odour at bay.
Menstruation itself doesn’t hurt, but some people get cramps or other symptoms during their periods that may be uncomfortable. This is typically due to the hormones your body releases during menstruation that cause the uterus to contract so it can shed its lining. There’s a number of actions you can take to reduce pain from cramps. Go easy on yourself!
Not unless you tell them! If they ask you, it’s totally up to you to share or not. If you enjoy exercise, swimming and sport, you will still be able to take part and using the most comfortable pad or tampon will help you to feel more confident during these activities. Remember to change your pad or tampon often to stay comfortable.
Most girls lose about 1/4 cup of menstrual fluid during their periods (mostly in the first few days). Not to worry, though — your body makes up for it. Our bodies are incredible!
Nope - your period doesn’t have to stop you from doing things you usually do. You can still go to school, help at home, see your friends, play sports and do all the things you’d normally do. You might not feel like doing some of these things, especially if you’re cramping. Don’t put pressure on yourself and do whatever you feel up to.
Women get periods until menopause, which is when menstruation and the ability to have children stops. In most women, it usually happens in their late 40s or early 50s. But menopause can happen earlier or later. Some women may stop menstruation by the time they're 35 years old, and others may not stop until their late 50s.
As your period gets closer, it is possible to feel very emotional, moody or even angry. You may even prefer to eat only certain foods, and most likely, crave chocolate. This is called Premenstrual Syndrome or PMS for short. The hormones changing during your cycle cause it, which affects you both physically and mentally. Feeling bloated is due to water retention, but when your period starts, all these symptoms will go away. Supplements such as B6, essential fatty acids and Vitamin E can help to alleviate the symptoms of PMS. If you’re badly affected, speak to your doctor about your symptoms.
Carry a few pads and/or tampons in your school bag all the time – you can bet that if you don’t need them, a friend will! If you forget, or your period starts earlier than you expected, ask the school nurse or teacher for supplies (most likely they too will have periods so it is nothing to be embarrassed about). If your period starts in a lesson, wrap a jumper or a jacket around your waist and go to the school nurse or a member of staff. Best to carry some spare knickers with you, or keep them in your school locker, so you can freshen up if it happens unexpectedly.
Yes, of course.
Breast swelling and tenderness are caused by the changes in the hormone levels just before a period. It is important to be sensible about the foods you eat and what you drink to help to manage the symptoms. Avoid salty foods and drinks that contain caffeine such as coffee, cola and fizzy drinks. Evening Primrose oil & flaxseed oil has been shown to be very helpful as are Vitamins B6 and E so try to encourage those into your diet. Avoid junk foods and try to eat healthy foods based on grains, fish, beans, chicken and fresh vegetables and fresh fruit. Make sure you drink plenty of water too.
Everyone gets body hair. It is part of the changes your body goes through during puberty. Some people choose to remove hair by shaving or waxing. If you are happy with the way you look, there is no need to do anything other than wash carefully each day. If the hair makes you feel unhappy, you can use a razor, a hair removal cream or have them removed by waxing but make sure to ask an adult first for advice.
Boys don’t have periods, but they do go through puberty. They grow body hair, get spots, and some grow tall very quickly. Many boys feel embarrassed when their voices suddenly change and their hormones can cause moodiness too.
JOIN THE RILEY CLUB WHEN YOU'RE READY!
Ok guys, we covered A LOT just now, are you still with us? Fabulous!
Once you’ve gotten your first period, why not join the Riley Club? All you need to do is pick the products you like the most, sign up and we’ll take it from there. Your subscription will be delivered straight to your door every 3 or 6 months so you’ll never run out.
You ready to join the club? Click here.