Today, we’re stepping away from skincare advice (well, for the most part) to share some tips for one very exciting first in every girl’s life — the first period. We consulted with the team over at Thinx, one of our favorite feminine hygiene brands, to help us cover the basics. What is a period? What are the signs of a first period? And what are the best ways to prepare?
It can be exciting, embarrassing and unexpected — all at once. And no, we’re not talking about your TikTok debut. We’re talking about your first period.
Whether you got here by googling “when will I get my first period?” or you're the mom of a tween who’s been noticing signs your daughter is about to start her period, we’ve got it covered. Keep reading for our top tips on how to make that very first time of the month the best time of the month.
1. Learn all about what’s happening to your body.
A period, or menstruation, happens because of hormonal changes in your body. Your ovaries release hormones called estrogen and progesterone, which cause the lining of your uterus to build up in anticipation of a fertilized egg (or pregnancy). If an egg is not fertilized by sperm that month, the lining breaks down and bleeds — this is your period. Then the menstrual cycle, which takes about a month, starts all over again.
Most girls get their first menstruation between 10 and 15 years old, but every body has its own schedule. If it feels like everyone around you is getting their period and you’re still waiting, don’t despair! Yours is on the way too. Keep an eye out for these three signs of a first period.
- You need a bra. While it takes three to four years for your breasts to fully develop, most girls will get their first period about two years after their breasts begin growing.
- You’ve got some hair down there. Soon after your breasts start to form, you'll likely start growing pubic hair. Early pubic hair is soft and thin and eventually becomes coarser.
- There’s discharge (or thick fluid) on your underwear. When your first period is just a few months away, you may begin seeing white or yellow discharge.
In the beginning, your periods will probably be pretty short, around two to three days. The blood flow may be light and not as bright red as you would expect. It’s completely normal for menstrual blood to be more of a brownish red. But every girl is different and some may experience bright red blood and/or a heavy flow, even during their first period.
The more that you understand about what’s happening to your body, the better your first period experience will be. If you have questions, ask your mom, big sister, aunt or another trusted adult, so you know you are getting the real story and advice you can rely on.
2. Prepare for some skin changes.
On to our favorite topic — skin! 😉 If you are well along your puberty journey, then you’ve probably already noticed some changes in your skin. There are three key things that may be going on with your skin right now:
- Hormonal changes. The same hormones that trigger your first period trigger other changes in your body too, including your skin. The connection between hormones and acne >>
NYC dermatologist Dr. Anna Karp answers all of your hormonal acne questions (and more) during our Hero + Thinx Q&A session.
- Oil overload. There are small glands in your pores called sebaceous glands, which produce an oily substance, or sebum. During puberty, your sebaceous glands get larger and begin to secrete sebum. If you are noticing an increase in oil on your skin’s surface, it may be time to switch to a gel cleanser with salicin or 2% salicylic acid, which is strong enough to break down oil in your pores but won’t dry out your skin. And don’t forget to wash twice a day! Get more tips on treating oily skin >>
- Premenstrual pimples. Back to those hormones again. Right before your period starts, estrogen decreases and progesterone begins to increase. This causes your skin to produce more sebum. At the same time, it swells and tightens pores, which means they can easily trap all of that excess oil and cause breakouts. What is period skin?
3. Pack a period kit.
Sometimes girls will experience premenstrual syndrome (PMS) before their first period. PMS can involve any combination of emotional and physical symptoms before or during your period, including moodiness, sadness, anxiety, bloating and acne.
But the majority of girls will either not have PMS before their first periods or not really recognize it, so it’s best to be prepared. You never know when your first period will arrive, so put together a little “period kit” and carry it with you in your purse or backpack. Here are some of the essentials:
- Clean pair of underwear
- Small pack of wipes
Or you could skip the first three and just pack a pair of period undies.
4. Celebrate the moment!
The day you get your first period is an exciting one. While you still have a lot of growing up to do, it’s your first official moment in the world of womanhood. It’s definitely not something to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. So go tell your friends! Enjoy a special dinner! Treat yourself to something you’ve been wanting. Getting your period is a positive, natural part of life, a milestone to be marked and enjoyed! 🎉