Symptoms of the First Period

November 12, 2012

Symptoms of the First Period

Menstruation is a major landmark in a girl’s physical and mental development. The first menstrual period, or the menarche, can be exciting to some girls, while others may feel anxious and afraid about it.

When Does It Occur?

The timing of the first period varies significantly among girls. It may occur anytime between the ages of 8 and 14 years. Twelve years is the average across the world. However, it is almost impossible to predict the exact timing of the first period, in spite of all the biological changes and early period symptoms. The initial periods are irregular, and may occur after every 21 to 45 days, before settling into a set pattern in which the periods occur every 28 to 32 days.

Biological Changes

The menstruation and period symptoms occur as a result of major hormonal changes in a girl’s body. These changes in turn contribute to a woman’s ability to get pregnant and have a baby. During the menstrual cycle each month, the ovaries release an egg. This process is known as ovulation, and is asymptomatic. Most young girls are, therefore, unaware of it. Some girls may, however, feel some cramping in the pelvic region during ovulation. The process is also accompanied by the thickening of the uterine lining in anticipation of an impending pregnancy. The body will shed the lining after 14 days and release the blood stored in the uterus. This blood escapes through the vagina, and is responsible for the first and every period in a girl and a woman.

Pre-Period Symptoms

The two most reliable first period symptoms include breast growth and the development of armpit hair. The breasts take about two years to grow completely and fit into a regular, cup-sized bra. The armpit hair develops after this, about three to six months before the first period. Other early period symptoms include the production of a white vaginal discharge, emotional changes and occasional cramps, especially in the pelvic region. These period symptoms usually occur before the first regular period.

First Menstruation

Once the menstruation begins, many girls may experience period symptoms such as abdominal cramps, headache and irritability. These symptoms may stop after the initial months or continue throughout the girl’s life until menopause. While it may seem a lot, most girls lose about 2 tablespoons of blood during an average menstrual period.

Managing Symptoms

The management of period symptoms depends on their severity. Some of you may require over-the-counter pain medications to relieve the pain. Others may benefit from exercise and warm bath. A sanitary pad, tampon or menstrual cup may be used to collect and dispose the lost blood. It is important to be comfortable during the period.

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