First periods : at what age do they arrive? How do you manage their arrival?

The arrival of the first periods is often seen as a major milestone in a young woman's life. Their arrival can raise a lot of questions in pre-adolescent children, and this is perfectly normal, although you shouldn't let it worry you.

What are the first periods ?

From puberty onwards, between the ages of 10 and 16, the cycle is set in motion, causing the appearance of periods. The first menstrual flow generally occurs two years after the development of breasts and the appearance of hair. Puberty comes in stages, so don 't compare yourself to others- every body is different!

The 1st menstrual period corresponds to the start of bleeding from the uterus. On average, they last between 3 and 7 days, depending on the woman.
On average, they occur every 28 days, for about forty years, until the menopause. When periods arrives, it means you're fertile and can get pregnant!

What is the average age of first periods ?

There's no precise age, set for all women, when periods arrives. However, the figures say between 10 and 16, and the average is around 12. It can happen much earlier, as early as 8-9 for some girls, and much later for others (up to 16). Everyone goes at their own pace, and there's no reason to sworry. On the other hand, if by the age of 17 you still haven't had your periods, you can consult your doctor to s'make sure that all is well.

There are a number of factors that could influence the timing of their arrival:

  • lfeeding
  • lPhysical activity
  • genetics
  • body weight
  • lethnicity
  • lgeographic location
  • certain pathologies

Please note that there are also periods of infants, also known as metrorrhagia. This is bleeding that occurs at birth, generally at the start of sex hormone secretion. These flows are weak and short, and are not the first periods !

How can you tell if the first periods are on their way?

It's impossible to know exactly when they'll arrive. The arrival of menstruation for the 1st time is often preceded by other changes such as breast development and hair growth. It takes about a year for the breasts to reach their definitive size. Menstruation generally starts two years after breast development. Hair growth appears on the legs, armpits and pubic area.

Another early sign of their arrival is the appearance of white vaginal discharge. In fact, a few weeks or months before, you may notice white traces at the bottom of your panties. This discharge, also known as leucorrhoea, cleans and lubricates the vagina.

Finally, pain in the lower abdomen a few days before may be a sign of their imminent arrival! When in doubt, wear menstrual panties as a preventive measure: they can also be used as conventional underwear.

Which sanitary protection should you choose for your first periods ?

There are many different types of sanitary protection, all with their own advantages and disadvantages.

  • External devices such as disposable pads, reusable pads, panty liners or menstrual panties.
  • Internal devices such as tampons and cups. These may be useful if you're a swimmer, but they present a greater risk of developing toxic shock. What's more, teenagers are sometimes less comfortable with their bodies than adults when it comes to using tampons or cups.

Generally speaking, disposable solutions contain numerous chemical substances that are harmful to your health. It's important to choose protection that's respectful of your body and safe for your intimate area, since the latter is very sensitive to external factors that can upset its balance.

Also, when it comes to choosing sanitary protection for the 1st time, we can only recommend menstrual panties. Choose certified organic cotton, which is gentle on your intimate area and highly breathable. You can wear them for up to 12 hours, depending on your menstrual flow.

How do you tell someone about your first periods ?

periods should not be a taboo subject. It's a natural phenomenon that occurs in all women, and it's normal to talk about it openly.

You can talk about it with your family or someone you trust, whether it's your sister, brother, father, mother, aunt, your girlfriends or boyfriends, or even your high school nurse.

In all cases: feel free to talk about it, to women and men alike. It's a subject that affects everyone, from near and far. And half the population has been through it!

How do you deal with the first periods at school?

It can sometimes seem complicated to manage school and the onset of periods : often, the first cycles are rather anarchic: you don't really know when they're going to arrive, and you want to avoid bloodstains on your pants or chair at all costs! In this case, you can keep a sanitary protection of your choice in your bag or wear a period pants as a preventive measure.
If your periods arrive and you don't have anything on hand to protect yourself, don't hesitate to go and ask the nurse or a teacher for disposable protection. Once again, there's no need to be ashamed of bleeding: it's normal.

We answer your frequently asked questions about first periods !

How long does my first periods last?

On average, the flow lasts from 3 to 7 days. This varies from month to month, as several factors can affect their duration. As a general rule, the first two or three years of menstruation are rather irregular, whether in terms of appearance, duration or flow.

When will my next periods arrive?

As the first few months/years after the arrival of periods, it's hard to predict when they'll happen, so we encourage you to download a cycle-tracking app, or keep track of their dates to predict your next ones. The average female cycle lasts 28 days, and between 21 and 35 days (depending on the individual). If they're late or early in the first few months, that's normal, but don't worry: the body isn't like a clock, especially at the beginning when the cycle is regulating itself. On the other hand, if you've had a risky sexual encounter and they're taking a long time to arrive, it's best to take a pregnancy test.

PMS, or pre-menstrual syndrome, can also help you know when your period is due to arrive, since symptoms such as chest pain, stomach cramps, fatigue and irritability appear a few days before it does.

Is it normal to be in pain?

Pain is often greatest in early adolescence, as menstrual cycles become established. The most common symptoms are cramps in the lower abdomen and back, as well as headaches, breast tenderness and digestive problems.

It's common to feel some discomfort during menstrual loss, but it should never prevent you from living your life normally, going to school or working.
If you feel too much pain, talk to your doctor to find the cause.
Some natural remedies can help you get through this period better, such as herbal teas, a hot water bottle, regulating your stress or adapting your diet. You can also carry painkillers in your bag to relieve symptoms.

Pain is not normal!

Are periods smelly?

Blood has a metallic odor, but it's almost imperceptible. In fact, it's the use of sanitary products containing chemicals (disposable tampons and pads), or leaving them unchanged for a long time, that will cause unpleasant odors. If you use good sanitary solutions that don't contain chemicals and let the intimate area breathe, along with proper feminine hygiene, there won't be any odor.

Can I continue to do sport?

Of course you can! Having periods doesn't mean you're sick - you can go on living your life as you please. On the contrary: sport has very good benefits, especially against menstrual cramps, since it provides endorphins and helps oxygenate the muscles.

Do I need a consultation?

If you've just had your periods, there's no need to consult your doctor. On the other hand, it's best to consult your GP or make an appointment with a gynaecologist if you have symptoms such as :

  • particularly long and heavy periods (lasting more than 7 days for more than 3 months), taking the pill can help regulate them
  • extreme pain not relieved by anti-inflammatory drugs
  • if your cycles are not regular after 2 years
  • if you experience bleeding between your periods
  • if you lose large blood clots
  • if you have pain in your lower abdomen and pelvic area that is not related to your measurements
  • if you have missed 6 consecutive months of menstrual bleeding

Finally, don't hesitate to consult a healthcare professional if you have any questions or need advice.

Our community bears witness to its first periods


Firsts FAQs periods

How do you deal with a girl's first periods ?

A girl's first periods can often be a source of stress, but with a little listening and the provision of sanitary protection, everything goes very smoothly.

What's the earliest age at which you can have your periods ?

Some girls start menstruating as early as 8 or 9. It really depends on the individual and on many factors. Perhaps you've already heard of periods . In reality, this has nothing to do with real menstruation; it's just a vaginal discharge following the establishment of the hormonal axis, one week after birth.

Is it normal to have periods at age 11?

There's no normal age for menstruation: some girls start at 10, while others start at 16.


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