By CHHENG Sotharath
It was in 2007 when I was around 12 years old that I had my first period. As an anxious and clumsy girl, I still appreciate the luck that my period came when I was at home with my mother; otherwise, with a lack of relevant knowledge on menstrual health, this moment could have been a disaster
Having your first period might seem scary, but it should not be an embarrassing thing to ask your family, friends, or anyone else for help with. Nor should you be embarrassed to talk about it openly because otherwise, you can put yourself at risk.
Here are some of the basics I think that you need to know (and I wish I knew) to handle your monthly visitor like a boss!
What is your period?
It’s finally time to welcome you to womanhood! Menstruation marks the beginning of your productive years. You will notice that blood will come from your vagina during this time, which means you are now capable of becoming pregnant (Office on Women’s Health, 2017)!
When does your period start?
This part is important to note so that you can get your sanitation kits ready in anticipation of the onset of womanhood. This will help you to avoid freaking out in the moment! Generally, girls begin having their period at the age of 12; however, anywhere between 8 to 15 years is also possible (Miller, 2018). You will also likely experience symptoms of puberty before your first period, such as the development of your breasts, vaginal discharge and body hair growing in places you never had before, like your underarms and private area.
How long and how often?
A period normally lasts around 5 days in average, in which the first 2 days tend to be heavier bleeding, while getting lighter towards the end (nhsinform, 2019).
Generally, the menstrual cycle happens around every 28 days (counting the first day of your last period as “Day 1”), but it can also vary from 21 to 40 days (nhs, 2016).
What does it feel like?
Symptoms that you may experience in the days leading up to your period — which are called Premenstrual Syndromes (PMS) — include:
-cramping or discomfort in your tummy
-pains, especially backbone
-feeling irritated/mood swings
-a lack of concentration
How to cope with it?
Personally, eating sweets like ice-cream or chocolate, and drinking bubble tea helps me a lot with my mood swings. Painkillers like Tylenol can also be effective in reducing pain during your period. Exercise and warm baths are also recommended to help you feel relieved.
Remember that self-care is really important, especially when Mother Nature visits and you begin experiencing your period. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to speak about your period with someone you trust if you’re unsure or feel like something is unusual.
Views expressed here are those of the author’s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of UNICEF.