First Period Prep!

Getting your period can be exciting, nerve-rattling or even an all-out nightmare. That’s why we sat down with real girls who were cool enough to share their first-time experiences with “Aunt Flo.” Happy, scary or totally confuzzled, it’s all here for you to relate, learn or laugh:

“I was only 8 when I got my first period. I felt like such a freak.”

A lot of early bloomers get a case of the freak-outs. “My mother didn’t expect me to get it so early, so we hadn’t had the talk yet,” says Janet*, now 16. “And, of course, none of my friends was menstruating yet, so I felt all alone.” Even though most girls begin their periods between the ages of 11 and 14, it’s totally normal for girls to start menstruating as early as age 8. Whew!

“I hid my period from my mom and sister for months. I don’t know why, but I was so scared to tell anyone.”

Shy about sharing the news of getting your period? Don’t be. This is an exciting stage of girlhood, but it can also be really confusing and scary if you feel alone or uninformed. Remember, your mom (or sister or aunt) is a girl just like you and had her first period once upon a time too. Never feel worried or uneasy about asking questions or keeping Mom in the know. She’ll have tons of wisdom to share, we promise.

“I went through a whole box of my sister’s panty liners when I got my first period. I didn’t understand the concept of using pads on heavy days and liners on light days.”

For a first-timer, matching pads, liners and tampons with your flow can be mind-boggling. A cycle is heavy, regular or light, and it varies from girl to girl. Most periods last from three to five days, but can be as little as two days or as long as a week. Usually your period will be heavier at the start of your cycle, and then progressively get lighter as you near the end. But no girl’s rotation is the same. Have a variety of stock on hand to pair the thickness of your pad with your flow. Eventually, you’ll get the hang of what you feel comfortable using.

“I was totally unprepared when I got my first period. I had to use toilet paper until I got home from school.”

Every girl has to do the makeshift toilet-paper pad at least a few times in her life when her period catches her off guard. Although you might not need a huge stash before you get your period, you should still be prepared. Keeping a pad handy in your purse can nix any period surprises. Also, you can go to the school nurse, public bathrooms and your friends if your period unexpectedly pops up.

*Name was changed to protect privacy