First period: Early signs; how long it lasts and healthy practices to follow

One of the many changes that come with puberty is the beginning of menstruation, the process wherein the uterus sheds the lining of blood and tissue via the vagina. The average age when a girl may expect her first period is around 12 years and it is important to prepare your child beforehand by having conversation around all the changes that come with puberty, what to expect during the first period and what to do in case one is not at home when the bleeding starts. This will not only mentally prepare her but also prevent last-minute panic. (Also read: Is your period late? Ayurvedic herbs and remedies to regulate menstrual cycle)

When to expect first period

The first period is expected a year after onset of puberty. Breast growth, followed by growth of underarm and pubic hair, increase in height, and change of body shape are some of the signs of puberty.

Early signs of first period

One should be prepared for all the physical symptoms that may accompany first periods. The periods may begin as spotting, normal flow or heavy flow with small clots.

“Along with breasts, pubic and underarm hair growth, other signs are watery vaginal discharge, lower abdominal cramps, acne, abdominal bloating, and mood swings. The colour of the first period can be dark brown bright red to dark red,” says Dr Kavita Shrikhande, Obstetrician and Gynecologist SRV Hospital, Chembur.

How long will the first period last?

For some girls, there will be spotting for a couple of days during the first period. For others, it can last for around 8 days.

“The average duration of a period is between 2-6 days. You need to speak to the doctor if there is nonstop bleeding for more than 8 days, the gap between two periods is less than 15 days, if you feel dizzy, if there is unbearable pain during periods,” says Dr Shrikhande.

Healthy practices to follow during periods as per the gynaecologist:

– On noticing blood after going to the washroom or if your clothes get stained, try to use tissue paper and place it on your underwear as a temporary measure.

– Inform your parents so that they can guide you. Do not panic at all.

– Try to speak to the expert and make a choice regarding period underwear, sanitary napkin, tampons or a menstrual cup.

– To manage cramps, opt for a hot water bag on the lower abdomen, drink warm fluids; use pain killers only after consulting the doctor, and try to stay physically active.

– It will be imperative for you to change the pad from time to time – that is after every 4-5 hours, carry extra sanitary pads with you in case of heavy flow, and wash the pubic area properly. Track the periods and note down any irregularities.

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