First Period: Menarche

July 15, 2010

A girl's first period is called the menarche. The word is pronounced: MEN-ar-kee. The menarche most often begins when a girl is aged 11-14 years. But the first period can arrive when a girl is as young as 9 or as old as 15 years. If your periods don't start by the age of 15, see your physician. 

First Period: Womanhood Sign

The menarche is a sign that a girl is growing into womanhood. In addition to having her period, a young woman's body will begin to change. Breasts will begin to develop along with pubic and underarm hair. The hips will also start to widen in preparation for future childbirth.

The menarche signifies that a girl can now become pregnant during the act of sex. A girl can even become pregnant as long as a month before the first period arrives.

In the days leading up to your period, you may feel moody or tense. You might feel heavier than usual, or bloated. This is water weight that will come off as the period arrives. You may experience abdominal cramps, lower back or leg pain. This can last a few hours or longer. You may find your breasts are a bit sore and sensitive and you may have an acne breakout.

When your period begins, you will find a bit of blood on the crotch of your underpants or perhaps you'll see blood on the toilet paper when you wipe yourself after you urinate. The blood flow from your vagina will be light at the beginning but will probably become heavier, stay that way for a few days, then begin to taper off.

During the menarche, the blood is often brownish at first then become red. The period lasts from 3-7 days every month.

Mom's Advice About Your Period

You can turn to anyone you trust for advice on how to use tampons or pads. A young girl often turns to her mother for this advice. A tampon is shaped to fit inside the vaginal canal and is the right kind of protection to use during swimming and exercise. The pad comes with an adhesive backing so it will stick to your underpants. Pads and tampons have to be changed on a regular basis.

During your period you can do everything you would do on any other day. No one can tell that you have your period.

If you get period cramps, some things that help are exercise, heating pads, warm baths, and ibuprofen or naproxen. If these over-the-counter drugs don't help, see your doctor about getting prescription pain medication.

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