Upon reaching adolescence, even before getting our menstrual cycle, we already begin to feel our body beginning to change and mature – breasts begin to develop and pubic and underarm hair begin to grow. These are all external signs indicating that something hormonal is happening to our bodies. The peak of the transition from childhood to adolescence is getting our period, which usually causes us to say “I got my period”. This is the sign that our body reached puberty and can now reproduce, in other words, get pregnant and have a baby.
Even though our bodies allow us to reproduce already in our teenage years, it is recommended and preferred that we allow our emotions to mature for several more years before becoming mothers. Getting our period is a sign from our bodies that we can get pregnant, but that does not necessarily mean that we should. Therefore, if you have your period and are having sex, you should use contraceptives to protect yourself from getting pregnant and getting sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS. You can read more about contraceptives here.
The “monthly cycle” is in fact the fixed hormonal activity that occurs in teenage girls and women and is responsible for our ability to get pregnant. Without having a monthly period, we cannot get pregnant. This hormonal activity occurs in the brain and in the reproductive organs (ovaries, uterus). When we start getting our period, certain things happen to our body.and menstruation, in other words, the bleeding, is only one of them, however, for most of us, menstruation is what is most perceived and most characterizing of adolescence.
The Monthly Cycle – What is Actually Happening to My Body?
Pregnancy occurs when an egg is fertilized by a sperm. How and from where does the egg come? Each of us is born with reproductive organs: a uterus, two ovaries, two fallopian tubes, a vagina, a cervix and more. The monthly cycle is actually “the regular rotation” of our hormones that creates a mature egg that can be fertilized by sperm. If we don’t get pregnant, the body sheds what is unnecessary, makes preparations, and starts over.
In each ovary we have hundreds of thousands of eggs. Each month only one matures and leaves the ovary through the fallopian tube and makes its way to the uterus. The egg’s journey from the ovary to the uterus is called ovulation and it can last a few days. However, if the egg that leaves the ovary is not fertilized within 24 hours, it dies. Twenty-four hours after the egg descends from the ovary, the lining of the uterus begins its “preparations” to receive a fertilized egg. The lining of the uterus is the uterine wall that nourishes the fertilized egg so that it can become an embryo. In order for the lining of the uterus to nourish the egg it thickens and becomes filled with blood vessels. If the egg is fertilized, it implants in the lining of the uterus and becomes an embryo. If the egg is not fertilized by sperm, the thickened lining of the uterus “sheds” in a process called “menstruation”. We feel this happening when blood is expelled through the vagina for a few days. After the bleeding stops, the process to release a new egg begins again in the ovary and so on and so forth. The average monthly menstrual cycle lasts 28 days and we begin to count from the first day of the period. However, while most cycles last 28 days, they can sometimes even last 35 days. All of us have different bodies.
The average menstrual bleeding lasts between 3-7 days. Pain and cramping in the stomach and back are characteristic symptoms during the menstrual days and are mostly common with teenage girls and young women. If you feel that the pain is not normal during your period, you should consult with the appropriate doctor.
Many times before getting your period, you can feel tenderness in your breasts, irritability, fatigue, cravings for certain foods, and other symptoms known as premenstrual syndrome (PMS). These symptoms disappear during menstruation.
At what age do we start to get our period?
The average age at which the first period appears is 12, however, it can also appear at an earlier or a later age. Factors that can affect the appearance of the first period are:
Heredity – when did your mother get her period?
Nutrition – malnutrition can delay the onset of the period while a diet rich in hormones can make the period appear earlier.
Emotional problems could spur on or delay the first period.
The length of a woman’s period differs from cycle to cycle in some cases, and in other cases the cycle is not regular or is characterized by an irregular amount of blood.
Until what age do we continue to get our period?
Each of us is born with a fixed number of eggs in the ovaries and this amount does not change over the course of our growth and development. From the moment we reach puberty and we get our period, the amount of our eggs gradually decreases. Not all of our eggs are fertile and the reserve of fertile eggs in the ovaries is not infinite. We “only” have several hundred thousands. Starting at age 35 there is a decrease in the number of fertile eggs that can mature and be released at ovulation. When the period stops, it is called menopause, which happens around the age of 52 and happens because the reserve of eggs simply ran out. If the period stops before the age of 45 it’s referred to as early menopause.
What happens if the period is late?
When a woman gets pregnant, she stops having her period for the entire time of her pregnancy. This is the first sign you will have if you think you may be pregnant – if “you are late”. If you learn to monitor your period and time your monthly cycle, you can know when you should get your period and if it comes on time. If you have not yet begun to monitor your period, you should really start. You should write the first day of your period in a journal and track it for a few months and then you can know what the length of your cycle is. If you want to read more about pregnancy, click here.
My first period
The first time an adolescent girl has her period can be a very happy and exciting event for her because her body is indicating to her that she is healthy and developing. However, at the same time, having your period can also bring with it confusion and concerns about maturity. If you are close with your mother or you have an older sister and you want to share these feeling with her, it will make is easier for you. Nevertheless, if you feel that there is no one at home who can give you the answers you are looking for, please feel free to call ….. (Whose telephone number? Ours?). With one phone call you can ask all the questions you need and know that you are not going through this alone.
Menstrual blood is not something to be ashamed of and it is not dirty. The period is a welcome physical phenomenon, however it also brings with it new responsibility – maintaining personal hygiene. In order for you to feel like you can move around freely and how you want, there are many products that can help when you have your period. There are hygiene bandages, known as pads and tampons, menstrual cups or natural methods that teach women how to empty the uterus (add pictures for each product that are not brands). With time you will find the products that suit you and your body best.
It is possible that at first you will feel embarrassed carrying your hygiene products everywhere, therefore it is recommended that you have a small and sealed pouch where you can put everything you need. If you are having sex, this is also a good place for you to keep your condoms.
When you have your period, you should shower every day mostly so you can feel fresh, but there is no health effect on your body.
Many young girls buy themselves a few pairs of dark “panties for their period” so that if they have any “leaks”, they will not stain their favorite pairs of panties.
Since we do not get up to change our pad or tampon at night, we can wake up in the morning and see light blood stains on our panties or on the sheet. If this happens to you often, you may need to use hygiene products that are more absorbent and lay out a towel on the sheet or something else that would give you a pleasant feeling.
Your period is a natural and healthy process that your body needs – you should find the methods that suit you best and incorporate them into your life on the one hand, and on the other hand, you should give it a place without ignoring it and without feeling embarrassed by it.