Managing your monthly visitor
Starting your period for the first time is an important step in a girl's life and sexual development, but it doesn't have to be scary.
We've learned in school that beginning to menstruate means your body is now ready to make babies. Each month an egg is released from the ovaries and travels down into your womb waiting to be fertilised by sperm, while the lining of the womb also becomes thicker, ready for a potential baby. If the egg is not fertilised, the egg and womb lining break away and is expelled by your body. This is your period. And it happens every month.
Eventually you will become so used to your monthly visitor that you barely give it any thought. But for now though, I know it's new and uncomfortable. Maybe even a bit embarrassing. Don't worry, menstruation is literally the most natural thing in the world and you should never be embarrassed by your body doing what it does best.
Having your period doesn’t have to limit your life in any way, you can still do your sports, go for a swim, and wear the clothing you want to wear. You just need to be prepared. Girls these days are far luckier than our grandmothers were, we have so many options for menstruation protection and they are more convenient than back in the day. Ask your grandmother what sanitary pads were like in her day, you’ll be surprised.
Sanitary pads (or simply called 'pads') are the most comfortable when you first start your period. The cotton strips stick conveniently to your underwear and trap the menstrual blood as it flows, allowing you to get on with your day. Remember to change these regularly for maximum comfort and never try flush them down the toilet. Most restrooms (or toilets) have little plastic bags for you to hygienically store and throw away your used sanitary pads. If you go to the shops you will see there's a wide variety of sanitary pads on the market, from scented to unscented, thick to thin (depending on how heavy your flow is), and even with wings (these extra bits on the side wrap around your underwear to prevent any leaking. Experiment with different brands and types to find what works best for you.
Some girls find it difficult to use tampons when they first start their period, and that's ok. Tampons are small cotton tubes that are inserted into the body to collect menstrual blood. You will notice a little string attached to each one, this is to help you remove them. Tampons give you a wider range of freedom and movement while on your period, they even allow you to swim, but if they make you uncomfortable, don't feel pressured to use them. This is your body. If you are thinking of trying out tampons for the first time, try the smallest ones and use an applicator. It's best to wait for when your period flow is heaviest so it will be easier to insert the tampon.
This is still new on the market and probably wasn't around during your gran’s time. The Diva Cup is a small silicone cup that is inserted into the body where it collects the blood as it flows. Once it's full, you remove it, empty it out and wash it for re-use. The great thing about the diva cup is that it's good for the environment and creates no waste. This is not for everyone, but users claim it makes them feel more comfortable with the idea of their menstruation, and closer to their bodies.
Whatever you decide, just remember that this time is all about you and your body.
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