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What I Wish I Knew About My Period

Pointers for those who menstruate, or are about to.

Illustration by Emma D.

Illustration by Emma D.

It was Labor Day weekend, the last free days of summer before school started. I woke up in my best friend’s bed and felt weird. I got up to pee and saw that there was a darkish stain on her sheets where I had been lying. I felt sick to my stomach, because I knew the worst thing ever had happened: I had gotten my period. I was 10.

I was an early bloomer. (Side note: Can we come up with a new term for this? That one is so Downton Abbey.) I had always been the youngest in my class, but 10 years on the planet is not a long time to prepare for the reality that your body can now make babies, and in exchange for this superpower you will be tortured for three to five days per month with any or all of the following: painful body-twisting cramps, zits, headaches, mood swings, and, not to put too fine a point on it, BLOOD coming out of your VAGINA.

Needless to say, I’m older now, and I have been dealing with my period for what seems like forEVER. So I thought I’d share some of what I’ve experienced and learned with any early—or late, or medium—bloomers out there.

(One more note before we start: I know that not all girls get their periods. Some of you weren’t even born with uteruses or vaginas. And that some people with vaginas and uteruses and periods are not girls. This article is for anyone who gets their period, regardless of gender.)

1. Getting my period wasn’t like it was for Margaret in Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. And I guess that was OK.

Have you read this book by Judy Blume? It’s all about this girl Margaret and how badly she wants to get her period. She is obsessed with this and all other possible signs of puberty, like growing boobs ’n’ pubes. I read Are You There God? in elementary school; it was my primary source of menstruation information. It may have been my only source—at the time I had no internet, none of my friends were talking about this stuff, and I was afraid/embarrassed to talk to my mom about it. So I relied on Judy Blume, patron saint of all matters related to girlhood.

Margaret and her BFFs (slash frenemies) Gretchen, Nancy, and Janie looked forward to their periods so intensely that they PRAYED FOR THEM and lied about getting them before they had. This was so confusing to me—almost as confusing as the complicated belts and hooks and pads that the girls in the book had to wear, because the book came out in 1970, when adhesive pads were still a new thing and I guess not that common? (I’ve been told that Judy Blume has since changed the book so the menstrual-flow staunching reflects the times, which is SUCH a bummer. Fingers crossed the brand of pads the girls use is still called Teenage Softies.) Puberty scared the hell out of me. I heard my mom’s talk of getting me a bra as a threat, not a promise (I held out until the last week of sixth grade). I felt terror at the sight of my first pubic hair. And the scariest thing was the idea of getting my period—it just sounded like a very uncomfortable physical situation that comes with a lot of responsibility.

Aside from waking up and feeling dread, I can’t recall anything about the Day I Became a Woman. I assume I told my friend’s mom what was going on and then went home and told my mom? But I don’t know. I do remember wanting to cry, or maybe I did cry, and feeling embarrassed and convinced that everyone at school on Monday would just know what had happened.

I’ve since read that fewer than 10% of girls get their periods before they turn 11. But since I was the youngest kid in my grade, most of my peers were almost 12, and so it’s very possible that I wasn’t the only girl in Mr. Manfredi’s sixth grade class who had to wear giant maxipads (ugh) under her acid-wash jeans. I wish I had known that then, because I felt really alone. (Once I had to go to a sleepover while I had my period and I was so mortified that someone would see a pad in the garbage can that I snuck out to the garage when no one was looking and put it in the trash can out there.) It would have been nice if someone had told me that there’s nothing shameful about getting your period—and also that it’s OK not to be really psyched about it, too. But no one talked to me like that, because I didn’t have any hippies in my life.

I also had no one and nowhere to turn to for answers to my myriad questions, such as:

How much blood is actually coming out of me?
It can feel like gallons. Especially when it gets on the sheets or, ugh, on your clothes. (Both of these things: normal. Annoying, but normal.) It turns out that it’s typically less than six tablespoons a month. And it’s bloody, but it’s not all blood: It’s mixed with fluid from your cervix and your vagina, and clumps of tissue from your uterus (these look like blood clots and are often called that, but they’re not).

Why are cramps so so terrible, and what exactly is happening?
Basically, puberty is your body telling you, HEY NOW, I’M PREPPED UP FOR A BABY! But at this point in your life, you may not be ready for that. So, OK, during your menstrual cycle, an egg is released into your uterus (aka the womb), which starts building up its walls to make it a safe place to grow a baby. But if no sperm comes over and fertilizes that egg, your U is like, “Oh, OK, I guess we don’t need all this extra padding,” so it contracts like a muscle (which it is) to get rid of it—aka you get your period. If your uterus contracts too hard, it can hurt. Sometimes it hurts a lot. How much it hurts is different for everyone; but I’ve heard that most people don’t get cramps the first year or two of menstruation, and that if you do eventually get them, they tend to get less painful over time (my mom says her cramps disappeared after she gave birth to her first kid [aka me]). A bad cramp can feel like someone is squeezing your abdomen and twisting it in their fist just for fun. I consider this the worst part about being magical enough to create life. I guess it’s a small price, but jeez. (With this, as with all physical stuff, if it hurts a lot lot LOT, see a doctor as soon as possible.)


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  • catpower44 April 23rd, 2013 7:19 PM

    This is a great article Elizabeth! I wish I had this a year and a half ago! And, I get the zit thing too, in the EXACT same spot every time, a week before my period. That’s how I know it’s going to start, being irregular and all!

  • Kimono Cat April 23rd, 2013 7:21 PM

    Besides saying that this was a great article (I could totally emphasise with not feeling ready for puberty), I really need to comment about one thing: I think that the guy in today’s background picture is like, really super hot.


  • thebrownette April 23rd, 2013 7:25 PM

    A word about tampons! I have a short vagina(even though I’m five foot eight) and applicator tampons are waaaay too long for me! So if you have the same prob, try OB (my old fav) or Nature’s Promise (my new organic fav-no chemicals up in there!) Thanks again Rookie. It’s astounding how many people aren’t fully aware of their, ahem, ANATOMY until puberty. Myself included!

    • maxrey April 24th, 2013 12:01 AM

      Tell me more about this “short vagina.” I’m 23 years old, have had my period since I was 11, and 9 times out of 10 when I try to use a tampon it goes in just fine, but I can feel it. I’m going to talk to my gyno about it next time I go, but this is the first I’ve heard of a “short vagina” so I’m interested to know more! Also I’ve never tried applicator free ones, so maybe I’ll pick some up.

      • bibliovore April 24th, 2013 8:43 PM

        I’ve never heard of someone having a “short vagina” but I know that some people’s cervixes sit lower than others, especially at certain times in their cycle, so that’s a possibility for you, especially if tampons feel painful for you. If they’re not painful, it’s possible you are just not inserting them far enough.

      • Majel April 26th, 2013 6:09 AM

        I’m always so amazed that tampons are sold with applicators in the US. In Germany we just stick them in!
        Elizabeth: Thanks for making me aware of non bleached cotton ones existing.

  • soviet_kitsch April 23rd, 2013 7:25 PM

    “I met a girl recently who told me she’s never been more turned on than when a guy pulled her tampon out by grabbing the string with his teeth.”


    • The_Idler_Wheel April 23rd, 2013 10:57 PM


    • Hazel April 24th, 2013 3:50 PM


  • bridgetotoday April 23rd, 2013 7:29 PM

    hah, the first point is actually funny to me, I “so” looked forward to my period, but was ultimately so upset, I cried, and cried and when I went to school I just wanted to yell “I’m bleeding from my VAGINA!” Because I was grumpy and nothing was fair and I hated everyone a little bit… Well, I guess it’s different for everyone.

  • Kardvark April 23rd, 2013 7:37 PM

    I wish I could only have a 3 or 5 day period! I’ve been getting my period for nearly 20 years, and it always lasts a full 7 days! There’s nothing wrong with that, I’m just on the far end of “normal”. But it’s a pain – literally and figuratively.

    • emilyowls April 23rd, 2013 7:52 PM

      THAT’S WHAT I THOUGHT. 3 – 5??? come on now, rookie, that’s pretty short. mine was about 5 on BC but without it’s like at leeeast 7. :/

      but i also have a longer time not on it so the total cycle is like 33 days or something. idk. periods are WEIRD. especially when you through hormonal birth control into the mix. there should be an article on that too please!!!! even though i guess young teenagers don’t need it. there’s just so many brands! so many unmentioned side effects! so much pressure from the gyno! eek.

      • alejandra April 23rd, 2013 8:22 PM

        I actually started taking hormone bc when I was like 14 because of acne, and then again when i took accutane – I wish I had had more info, because I gained a bunch of weight and my period has been super irregular ever since! Rookie, please?

    • Lily April 23rd, 2013 9:41 PM

      I totally feel your pain! Mine are always 6-8 days. I would KILL for a 5 day period!

      • sissiLOL April 25th, 2013 7:21 AM

        Oh yes! Me too! Sometimes I had an 8 day period!

    • connie. April 23rd, 2013 9:50 PM

      Super, super grateful right now because mine is pretty much always around 3-4 days and I never get cramps or anything. Same with my mom so it might just be a genetic thing!

  • CarolineCouture April 23rd, 2013 7:40 PM

    Omg the Diva Cup is a godsend

    • Kelly Seiler Vocke April 24th, 2013 1:23 AM

      OMG yes! It holds enough fluid that I can put it in in the morning and just wait to change it until bedtime. If I’m not having epic cramps I can pretty much pretend my period isn’t happening. No paranoid trips to the bathroom to check my pants!

      Since the cup is made of non-absorbent silicone there is no TSS danger either. For short vagina women I’ve read the other cup brands are more comfortable due to shape differences. Also, if you have any chafing problems with pads cloth pads will totally solve that.

      I can totally vouch for the heat treatment too. For me the lower back works best and I use a rice filled thing you microwave. And alieve or ibuprofen started at the first sign of pain make an amazing difference. If I can catch the muscle before it starts getting all crazy sometimes it’s just achey and bloating. If I wake up in the night will full blown cramps… it’s doom. Nothing really helps enough at that point.

    • Becca April 26th, 2013 6:32 PM

      AMEN!AMEN!AMEN! Only wish I found it sooner! I’ve been using the Diva Cup for about a year now and it’s a legit life changer.
      I used to get debilitating, call-out-of-work, practically deathly, cramps AND horrendous diarrhea (since we’re being honest here) AND awful back pains ANDDDD fainting spells. With the Diva Cup, most of that is gone and my cramps are nothing that two Advil can’t take care of.
      I’ve told allll of my friends and most of them have switched. And those who have never looked back.
      Even if you’re totally grossed out by the thought of it…GIVE IT A TRY! It will change your lady life forever!

  • maggiemadge April 23rd, 2013 7:41 PM

    I remember getting mine when I was 11 and I was just NOT cool with having one, even though I was psyched beforehand. Such great information for anyone starting or even just to reference. Plus Larry Davis makes this even better. :)


  • Abby April 23rd, 2013 7:41 PM

    This was great.


    Also Also, I have a Serious Advice-Seeking Question. I’ve had my period since I was 13 (I’m 18 now) and it’s always been fairly regular. I would occasionally miss a month, but other than that it was fine. Well, like last summer, I started skipping months on a regular basis, and at this point, I haven’t had a period since January of this year. I’m still a virgin, not preggers. First of all, before anyone says it, I KNOW I should have already been to a gyno but I’M NERVOUS OKAY?? :(

    Anyway, my question is the following. I’m going home in a few weeks (as in the 16th of May), and I would much rather see a gyno there than here at college. Is it a really bad idea to wait? Should I go like RIGHTTHISMINUTE?? I don’t know what to do you guys….

    • GlitterKitty April 23rd, 2013 8:07 PM

      That happened to my friend. I don’t know many details about the situation (what caused it or what the doctor’s visit entailed) but she just had to take some pills and it started coming again. I dont really think 3 weeks would make a huge difference but I’m not a doctor so I don’t really know.

    • Catsinmycloset April 23rd, 2013 8:34 PM

      I went through something very similar. I started my period at 11, and I would go from not having periods for months to having them for months straight.
      I was really nervous about going to the gynecologist too, especially since I had to go at such a young age (my first visit was when I was 13). There’s nothing wrong with feeling anxious or scared about it, especially if a lot of your friends haven’t gone yet, and the thought of someone poking around in an area where no one else has been can be pretty damn terrifying.

      For these types of situations, always go with what makes you the most comfortable. If you think seeing a type of regular OBGYN will make it better for you, then you should wait. I’ve been seeing the same gyno for more than ten years, and we’ve come to understand my body very well together, and we’re actually very close.

      Since you are not sexually active, I wouldn’t feel too rushed, since a Pap smear is predominately to check for HPV and other STDs. However, you don’t necessarily need to wait for that point to see someone. I found out that I have endometriosis, a type of disease that tears apart the scar tissue my tubes and is going to make it hard for me to have children (which explains the SEARING pain of my cramps).

      It is important to go early to see if there are any problems, but again, your first time can be scary, so make sure that you’re ready. See if one of your parents or friends will go with you, and have them take you out for ice cream afterwards–I promise, it isn’t as bad as it seems. Good luck!

    • Emelie April 23rd, 2013 8:41 PM

      Hey Abby!

      So, first off: I’m a random stranger on the internet, not in any way qualified to disperse medical advice. I think it’s up to you, depending on what you feel more comfortable doing!

      Option 1: if you’re really worried, or you’ve noticed other weird things going on with your body, then call up your student health center and see if you can get an appointment–they might be able to fit you in that day.

      Option 2: If things have been pretty much the same since January, and you aren’t worried about anything–no new symptoms, no other funky things going on–then you can probably wait it out for the next three weeks. A doctor who already knows you and your medical history might be a better bet for getting things sorted out. Plus, it sounds like you feel a lot more comfortable with this option, which is important!

      Irregular periods are totally a thing, especially when you’re still a teenager. My friend found that going on BC helped sort out her irregular periods and got her cycle running on a monthly basis after she missed a few months. If you’re really worried though, then go talk to someone, just to get some reassurance :)

    • periwinkle_dreams April 23rd, 2013 8:46 PM

      You can probably wait till you get home, but I’m no doctor….Maybe, for now, you could ask a doc at your college’s health center? If you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone in person, sending an email is fine too. Good luck! :)

    • Emmie April 23rd, 2013 9:38 PM

      Maybe the best would be to see or talk to a doc at your uni’s med center, just as a consultation, and ask if it’d be okay to wait until you go home to see the doctor you choose. One of my friends was really irregular for most of uni, and it was nothing serious at all. Everyone’s bodies are different:) good luck xx

    • socksonsocks April 23rd, 2013 9:44 PM

      Hey Abby,

      I’m no gyno, but earlier last year I had a similar experience wherein I didn’t get my period for months at a time, and then when I did it would be suuuper light. In my circumstance it was due to weight loss and increased stress. Not diagnosing you by any means, just offering one possible explanation. Since then I’ve adjusted my diet and schedule, and now my periods are regular again.

    • MR April 23rd, 2013 11:08 PM

      This has happened to me before and, for me at least, it was always stress-related. I would miss for like 2-3 months during exam-time.

    • maxrey April 23rd, 2013 11:56 PM

      my first thought was that it’s stress related. especially since you said it started last summer, which I’m assuming was around the time you were getting ready to start college (judging from your age). you could always go talk to someone at the campus health center, but i don’t think waiting a few weeks will hurt, either since it’s not because of pregnancy or an std.

    • Stellalune April 24th, 2013 5:38 AM

      I missed my period for like 5 months due to stress.. I was in a foreign country so going to the doctors wa kind of not an option for me cause they were seriously creepy.. I was going through a difficult time and had a lot of stress.. When that went away my period can back so don’t freak out! I asked my mom to ask her obgyn about it and she said its isually nothing to worry about so i didnt really.. You should probably see a doctor when you can though, but only when you feel comfortable about it, so probably at home. Also I am not a doctor so don’t rely on this, I’m just sharing my no-period experience here. (Which, in retrospect was really nice) ;)

    • backyardtapir April 24th, 2013 4:32 PM

      I know you have a zillion replies, so I’ll keep this short and sweet. I, too, had kinda irregular periods and then missed my period for 3-4 months. Turns out I had an easily treatable problem with my pituitary, and now I have regular periods again!

      So, my opinion: please do get it checked out in either case. I agree with Emelie, but I don’t know anything about your circumstances, so I’m not going to answer your actual question! :)

  • landlockedblues April 23rd, 2013 7:44 PM

    YES TO THIS ENTIRE THING. I got my period when I was 11 and I didn’t have enough information and wasn’t close to my mom so I just felt really inadequate.

    Also, when you mentioned the hot water bottle thing (which are A+), I remembered that one time I had really bad cramps when I was hanging out with my boyfriend and I asked him to keep his warm hands on my belly and it definitely worked and felt nice. So, yeah, haha.

  • Blythe April 23rd, 2013 7:51 PM

    There is a particular pain to being a very early bloomer, isn’t there? I was 11.

    • goinghome April 24th, 2013 12:18 AM

      I was 9 :(
      Most of my family members got their period early (10 or 11), but as I was treated for a hormonal problem (which has been fixed since), I got mine 2 or 3 months before my 10th birthday, uhh.

  • AllieBee April 23rd, 2013 7:57 PM

    I have a question for you all at Rookie! This was a great article, Elizabeth, and it comes at the perfect time, right before my senior prom where I will most likely get my period! Yikes! I’m seventeen, but I get really bad cramps and have a heavy flow, and I’ve never really managed all that well with either. I’m worried it’s going to stress me out all night! I take birth control, and was wondering about spacing out the dosage to make sure I won’t get my period on that day, and I’m not sexually active or anything. Is that a terrible idea? Any other advice on how to make it a stress-free night? I’m worried about staining my dress or getting too tired to dance. Help!

    • periwinkle_dreams April 23rd, 2013 8:40 PM

      Use a heavy duty tampon and a pad, and you’ll probably only have to duck into the bathroom once or twice that night (if your period is so heavy even that wouldn’t keep it under control, maybe see a doctor?). I don’t know about the cramps, but maybe a painkiller would help.

      As for the birth control: I don’t think that’s a good idea. I use it too, for the same reason as you. Twice, I’ve unintentionally “spaced out” my pills by forgetting to take them at my usual time, and I’ve ended up getting a day or two of bleeding in the middle of my cycle when I shouldn’t be. By the next month, I’m regular again, but “spacing” has only added period days to my cycle, not prevented/delayed any.

    • landlockedblues April 23rd, 2013 8:43 PM

      Something I do to avoid my period (like if I’m going to spend a week at the beach or whatever) is to skip the week of not taking the pill, so when I’m done with one pack, I start with the next one on the following day, then I don’t get my period. I don’t know if that was clear, but I hope it helps! I checked with my doctor about doing this and she said it was fine, as long as I didn’t skip my period more than four times. I would recommend you check as well, especially because maybe your birth control pills are different than mine.
      And have fun at your prom! :)

    • sneakybacon April 24th, 2013 7:07 AM

      you can totally just go on to the next pack, my doctor told me that was completely fine so you dont have to have your period if for some unlucky chance in lands on our honeymoon or beach holiday, or indeed prom, just carry on as usual and take the break next time

    • AllieBee April 24th, 2013 8:16 PM

      Thank you all so much! I think I will definitely try going straight to the next pack after this one, without taking the placebo pills. Great advice, I feel so much better now! Oh, you wonderful Rookie ladies, you! ♥

  • -alexandra- April 23rd, 2013 7:58 PM

    Since a uterus and a shark’s brain look exactly alike, my friends and I all call our periods Shark Week. (but this of course opposes one of my favorite 30 Rock lines to quote, “Live every week like it’s shark week!”)

    I personally like the terms “ridin’ the red wave” and “the british are coming! the british are coming!”

    Love this article. I need to think of a clever name for my monthly zit.

    • emcat7 April 23rd, 2013 8:36 PM

      My friends and I call it shark week too, but its because when a shark bites you it causes you to bleed a lot.

    • rhymeswithorange April 23rd, 2013 9:30 PM

      My friends and I use “surfboard season”, because my friend’s dad called it that!
      Also it’s pretty great because people that overhear you think you surf.

    • thedresscollector April 23rd, 2013 10:40 PM

      the british are coming ahahahahha yes

    • whodatgal April 24th, 2013 1:09 PM

      I haven’t started my period yet, but I’m lucky to have a supportttiiveee cool friend group who are all really open about literally EVERYTHING! <3 We call it "ridin the crimson wave" like Cher in clueless ;)

  • Maja Stenar April 23rd, 2013 7:59 PM

    I had my first period the day I had a swimming lesson with my class, and when we where done and dressing again, when I where to put my panties on again- I THOUGHT I HAD MYSTICALLY POOPED MYSELF. Turned out I hadn’t, which was good, but I wasn’t overjoyed by having my first period either.

    • hellorose April 24th, 2013 6:34 AM

      ahhhh this made me laugh.

  • GlitterKitty April 23rd, 2013 8:01 PM

    I know you’ve probably all heard this before but excercise really does help with cramps and bloating. If I excercise (like cardio sort of stuff) in the few days before my period, I hardly get any cramps at all. And while it’s really the last thing I want to do, exercising on the first day really helps too. The natural inclination is to skip gym class and lay on the couch eating chips during my period but excercise is really beneficial for me. I don’t mean to get all super jock but seriously it helps.

  • faithdarwin April 23rd, 2013 8:22 PM

    I had the opposite experience as the writer of this article with my first period; I was thirteen and it was a total Judy Blume situation. I desperately wanted my period! I felt like every other girl I know had already gotten hers by the time I got mine (in retrospect, that probably wasn’t true — it’s just that I actually did get really thorough education about puberty starting when I was about nine, so it felt like I was waiting forever).

    However, one thing this article doesn’t mention, for those that haven’t gotten theirs yet, is that your period blood won’t necessary be bright-red-gushing type blood. In my case, it was very light and sort of brownish. After waiting so long to get my period, I was expecting a dramatic white-pants-staining situation. I actually waited three days before telling my Mom, because I was certain there was something wrong with me — that I had some weird disease. I didn’t; it was just my period. I also didn’t really get any side effects for several months, but I would pretend to have cramps because I was so excited at having finally gotten a period!

    • whodatgal April 24th, 2013 1:15 PM

      I can relateeee! I’m 13 and I haven’t got mine yet…I know there’s still loads of time, but it seems like everyone around me is on their period and I’m the only one leftttttt

      • Bliss April 24th, 2013 6:58 PM

        Well I didn’t get mine until I was nearly 15. Suuuuper late developer!

  • kavalier April 23rd, 2013 8:33 PM

    the first time i heard about applicator tampons i was so weirded out – i know that they’re definitely sold here in australia, but pretty much nobody uses them (i didn’t see a single person buy applicator tampons in the 2+ years i worked check-out).

    that fun fact aside, this is a super great article, elizabeth!

    • Graciexx April 23rd, 2013 10:31 PM

      I live in australia too and I’ve also noticed how little people use applicators. I never really understood why though, they’re great!

      At my school we have a swimming carnival every year and everyone is expected to participate and win points for their house but a whole lot of girls have their periods or fake their periods to get out of it. After about 3 years of this one of my teachers came to the carnival wearing a tampon necklace! It was hilarious!

      • whodatgal April 24th, 2013 1:17 PM

        all my family live in Australia and my cousin said they have to keep a period diary in school so all the teachers know if they’re faking it when they say they can’t do a gala! It’s so annoying for her!!!!

    • julietpetal April 24th, 2013 3:38 AM

      Yeah, I’m from NZ and I have never seen anyone buy or heard of anyone who uses applicator tampons. They seem so odd and also such a waste of plastic? I was reading something the other day and realised then that American’s seem to only use applicators and not normal tampons! Intriguing.

  • runningfilm April 23rd, 2013 8:34 PM

    I got my first period at school in 5th grade. Seriously. It was about a week after the big evening meeting (one for girls, one for boys) at the school so I had literally just fully learned what it was and THEN IT HAPPENED. I was so embarrassed because I still to this day don’t know of anyone out of all my friends who got theirs before, like, seventh grade.

    • Emelie April 23rd, 2013 8:50 PM

      Summer between 4th and 5th grade. I completely and totally feel your pain. It has been more than 13 years, and I still remember being so terribly embarrassed. I was lucky, though, because I had one friend, two years older than me, who had also gotten hers really early–so I knew one other person!

    • Graciexx April 23rd, 2013 11:45 PM

      so did I! it was 5th grade and I was 10. I had been expecting it since I was 9 because my mum had told me about it and expected me to get it soon as I was a *insert better term for early bloomer here*

  • periwinkle_dreams April 23rd, 2013 8:34 PM

    Two things I learned from experience:

    1. If your period is averaging like 12 days a month, that’s not normal. Don’t panic, but see your doc (I did, and she gave me birth control – I LOVE it).

    2. When I got my first period, I had no idea what it was because of the color. I didn’t tell my mom cause I thought maybe I wasn’t washing my hands enough or something and had brought some weird infection upon myself. Turns out, period blood – despite being called “blood” – isn’t necessarily bright red. It could be anywhere between bright red and really, really dark brown, and that’s totally fine.

    • faithdarwin April 23rd, 2013 9:16 PM

      Oh my gosh, see my comment above — I had the EXACT same experience re: period blood being brown and not telling my mom because I thought something was wrong with me!

      • periwinkle_dreams May 2nd, 2013 3:25 PM

        Wow, so glad I wasn’t the only one!! Cause you’d think BLOOD would be red, right? No one talks about the color! lol

    • poetess April 23rd, 2013 10:32 PM

      lmao yes, my first was BROWN-BROWN, and I thought I had some strange watery diarrhea— I was so embarrassed, and it took me so long to figure it out. so a while later I was like “mom… could I have gotten my period last week?” …aah, I was so young XD

  • emcat7 April 23rd, 2013 8:34 PM

    Oh my gosh, thank you so much. Its my second time having my period, and just today my pad leaked at school and it got all over my pants and chair. This helps with all of the questions that I have. Thank you again.

    • Elizabeth April 23rd, 2013 8:58 PM

      that totally happened to me too! it’s a rite of passage albeit a messy one xo

      • whodatgal April 24th, 2013 1:19 PM

        what would/should/could you do if you had your period through your pants and onto your chair in class? Like any tips for hiding the mess for when you stand uppppp?

    • rhymeswithorange April 23rd, 2013 9:33 PM

      cold water gets blood stains out of clothes!

    • Emmie April 23rd, 2013 9:40 PM

      I recall one recess when I was 13 this girl came up to me, so serious and concerned, to tell me I had a stain on my pants. I am forever grateful! It happens to us all, unfortunately xx

      • Graciexx April 23rd, 2013 11:49 PM

        I remember having a long discussion with my conscious as weather or not to tell the new girl that she leaked. I ended up telling her and for weeks after she and I were super embarrassed and avioded each other like the plauge. Eventually we got over it and now were best friends!

  • the_mymble April 23rd, 2013 8:38 PM

    ‘If it hurts going in, stop. Pull the tampon and applicator out, put a pad in place, and make a doctor’s appointment’
    O_O Really? It hurt loads when I first started using them, but I just thought it was normal! It still use them and it doesn’t hurt at all now, but you’ve worried me! Should I see a doctor? :S

    • Phoebe April 23rd, 2013 8:43 PM

      If it doesn’t hurt anymore, you needn’t worry! This was meant for someone who wants to use tampons and finds them too painful to insert.

      • the_mymble April 23rd, 2013 8:46 PM

        Ah! That’s a relief ^_^ Thanks for answering.

  • rhymeswithorange April 23rd, 2013 8:51 PM

    I love Are You There God! I must have read it a million times. I always thought my middle school experience would be exactly like Margaret’s-hardly! Also, the belt pad things scared the hell out of me too.

  • Tyler April 23rd, 2013 8:55 PM

    1. I appreciate the gender awareness!
    2. The illustration is rad
    3. The Larry David scene just killed me

  • thefilmrookie April 23rd, 2013 8:58 PM

    ok so this is really funny that you posted about tampons and periods because today in pe me and my two friends snuck back into the dressing room before the bell and we were snooping around and we found 3 or 4 giant boxes filled with tampons. We ended up taking the tampons apart and hanging them by the stings on the shower heads and the fire alarms, and taking the instruction manuals and putting them in random lockers!


  • Maz April 23rd, 2013 9:14 PM

    This is such a great article and I wish I could give it to my former self so she could chill. But I was wondering if any of you guys feels more bloated when using the Diva Cup? I’ve been using it close to a year now and I’ve experienced a general bloatiness vs tampon/pad use.

    • Kelly Seiler Vocke April 24th, 2013 1:38 AM

      I do feel some extra pressure with the Diva Cup some periods and not at all others. There are other brands I’ve been thinking of trying for that reason. I kind of think it might be from trapped air?

      • Maz April 24th, 2013 11:16 PM

        that’s smart, probably what it is. I was thinking about trying a sponge, but I think that would be pretty messy, espesh at school. :/

  • Pocket Cow April 23rd, 2013 9:28 PM

    I was such a late bloomer!!! I got it the day before my fifteenth birthday…. It was so funny, a few of my friends thought I had had it already for years… they still don’t know that I was so late! Haha, and I had told them I used tampons, so I felt really rushed to start using tampons. But I couldn’t get them in until I switched to OB no applicator ones… tiny vagina apparently.

  • Kate April 23rd, 2013 9:36 PM

    Omg, where were you when I was in middle school?! I was in the same situation with a mother who didn’t use tampons (she didn’t prohibit them, just didn’t know anything about them), and my friends didn’t talk about this stuff, and ugh I just had so many questions. Anyway, I was 14 when I got my period, and I was so upset I sobbed for like two hours, crying about how I didn’t want it and I just wanted it to go away. Oh, life.

    Thank you for the info — even as a twenty-something, these tips can be helpful! I’m going to try green tea next time and see if it helps.

    Side note: I was unlucky in that I inherited my family’s history of awful periods (heavy flow, and cramps times a million, like almost passing out, fun times) and going on the pill before I started college was the best decision I ever made. I wish I’d done it earlier, but I was too terrified to go to the gyn. Not the choice for everyone, of course, but for me it helped a TON with flow, cramps, and generally not using a sick day at least once a month for that shiz.

    • Kate April 23rd, 2013 9:38 PM

      Oh and: Thank you so much for acknowledging your corona/hymen sitch. I have a similar deal and it actually really stresses me out because NO ONE ELSE TALKS ABOUT IT EVER. (P.S. How did you get through sex without like, dying? #TMImaybe)

      • Elizabeth April 23rd, 2013 11:59 PM

        KATE! not TMI for me, obviously. HA!
        um i don’t know how i didn’t like, SCREAM OUT. i remember being really really really ready and just like ok, this will probs hurt but lets do this and then omfg it was PAINFUL. like he had to put in an effort. and i was sore for a couple days. but then it was done! and the silver lining was that he was in college so i had a few weeks before i saw him again and by then it felt ok. but dang. it was not easy

  • TessAnnesley April 23rd, 2013 9:38 PM

    OMG an article about getting your period without aligning it completely with “being a woman/girl” HELL YESSSSSSSSS *INTERNET HIGH FIVE*
    some boys get their period and some girls don’t because they might not have a vagina or uterus (or maybe they do have one but there’s something wrong with it and it means you don’t get a period but that obviously doesn’t make you any less of a girl if you identify as one)
    and the illustration is beautiful and icky at the same time
    OH and this reminds me, i took inspiration from those amazing pins we saw in that shoot at Pygmy Hippo Shoppe and made my own tampon-dipped-in-red-glitter pin the other day and i can’t WAIT to wear it. people being grossed out by periods is just wack, they’re a part of life…
    girls get periods and boys get periods and people who are neither boy or girl (or both) get periods and just GET OVER IT HUMANITY, IT HAPPENS

    • poetess April 23rd, 2013 10:34 PM

      Wait but how do “boys get their period”…?

      • Anaheed April 23rd, 2013 11:22 PM

        Some trans* boys still have “female” reproductive organs.

        • TessAnnesley April 24th, 2013 1:47 AM

          Spot-on, Anaheed! All it takes to be a boy is identifying as one, so a boy might still have a functioning uterus (ie. one that gets a period) even though he’s a boy. Just like trans *girls with “male” reproductive organs – identifying as a girl is all it takes to be one! :D

  • Emmie April 23rd, 2013 9:41 PM

    Wicked illustration, loveeeeit

  • kendallkh April 23rd, 2013 10:33 PM

    dude, is a hot water bottle not just a microwaved bottle of water? i’ve been doing it wrong.

  • umi April 23rd, 2013 11:19 PM

    this came at a PERFECT time bc i’m like hunching over the keyboard in pain so much pain.my back hurts & my legs feel kinda numb and i feel like i’m gonna throw up.I’m waiting for my raspberry leaf tea to finish steeping WHICH is THE MOST DIS…..GUSTING thing I HAVE EVER tasted in my whole life but it eliminates cramps and at this point i dont even care……ugHHHHH UGH Uughhgg

    • TessAnnesley April 24th, 2013 1:49 AM

      Oh my goooooodnesssss I am sending you virtual get-better-soon vibes and chocolates via the internet :(

  • owlybird April 23rd, 2013 11:36 PM

    I read Seventeen well before I got my period, so I knew all about it (supposedly). I have always considered myself lucky because my cramps are usually only slightly annoying (though the first few times I got my period they were so bad I couldn’t stand up straight. I used a heat pad on my back while laying on my stomach and fell asleep. When I woke up I was all better.). The worst part of my period is the mood swings. And the heavy flow that makes everything down there soaked through. Thank goodness that since I got on BC my flow is much lighter!

    One thing that really really freaked me out about periods (and I kind of wish was adressed in this article) is that they can stop suddenly. After I became sexually active, they stopped. Like, seriously, no period for me for like nine months (thankfully, it was due to stress, probably from weight gain, and not from a pregnancy.) While I do miss this period-free time in my life, which ended when I got myself on the NuvaRing, it’s really more important to know that I won’t get pregnant than not having to deal with the annoyance of a light, scheduled period, which the BC gives me.

    Also, I disagree that period sex is no big deal – maybe it was the hormones, but HOLY MOTHER OF GOD it was always amazing for me.

  • jenaimarley April 24th, 2013 12:20 AM

    I really love this book: http://www.mylittleredbook.net/

  • takebackyourpower April 24th, 2013 12:29 AM

    I have hellacious period cramps. Here are a few things that make me able to go about my first few days without barfing:
    -Yogi Women’s Moon Cycle Tea before and during my period.
    - Iron supplements esp. if you are veg, also you can take 2 tablespoons of molasses (high in iron) before and during
    - apple cider vinegar – 1 tbspoon a day
    - advil
    I sound like an apothecary but for real it is a delicate balancing act to figure out what works for you. And it changes over time.

    • sophiethewitch April 24th, 2013 1:04 AM

      Thanks! I’ll definitely try molasses and vinegar.

  • sophiethewitch April 24th, 2013 12:57 AM

    You don’t have to be at home to get heat like you would from a hot water bottle! There are these stick-on things (made by the same brand that makes tiger balm I think), that are specifically shaped to go in your underwear over your abdomen, that don’t show through clothes, and that start releasing heat when you open the package through some sort of chemical reaction. They’re THE BEST.

    I really hope I’m posting this soon enough that someone will read this, because these things are legit amazing.

    • goinghome April 24th, 2013 12:17 PM

      Thank you so much for sharing this!

  • Loulou Androlia April 24th, 2013 5:32 AM

    I just found out aged 32 I am super anaemic because now I get my period now every 23/24 days (YAY), now I’m on some crazy uber iron pills and feel way better but seriously you are right about the should have time off work thing, why is that not a thing?

  • Yayo April 24th, 2013 6:49 AM

    I feel like at 13 I was slap bang in the middle of ‘average’.
    But thinking back I was still such a child. Recently I found a blood-stained pair of pyjama bottoms shoved behind my wardrobe. There were age 10/12 with little stars on them.
    Totally gross but also heartbreaking – I cried at the thought of my baby-self and the shame I felt.

  • Nikilodeon April 24th, 2013 9:16 AM

    oh my goodness i got so queasy when you said if the tampon hurts you when you put it in, you should stop. what does it mean if it hurts?

    • Nikilodeon April 24th, 2013 9:19 AM

      also, how do you deal with it when you really want/need to use a tampon because it’s practical and the situation calls for it, but you’re just feeling so queasy, you have a hard time putting it in?

  • Aderita April 24th, 2013 10:30 AM

    Hello Rookie I was just wondering if you could please write an article about the pill, I’m actually on it and I have like a 1000 questions about it. Please, pretty please. Thanks!

  • wallflower152 April 24th, 2013 10:47 AM

    I didn’t start til a few days after my 13th bday. I was totally dreading it but for me my period has never been that bad. 2-3 days of heavy but not like uncontrollable heavy flow followed by 2-3 days of light flow/spotting. I hardly EVER get cramps or bloating or any other bad symptoms and my start date is pretty predictable. About a week before I start my boobs get really sore and um…bigger like seriously where my bras don’t fit haha. My poor sister has horrible cramps to the point where she has to stay in bed sometimes and she vomits. I used pads for the first four years before switching to tampons. Then I discovered the awesomeness of BABY WIPES during mensuration. Seriously they are so cheap and make you feel way cleaner. I am currently ending my second period on the Diva Cup and I love it and recommend that everyone at least give it a try! I clean it at night in the shower then in the morning. You only have to clean every 12 hours! If I’m going out and the 12 hour mark is gonna be when I’m in public I just empty it before I leave home to avoid having to do it in a public restroom. It is seriously not hard AT ALL to learn how to use even though it sounds like it would be. I was a pro by the end of my first cycle on it. Just know where your cervix is and know that the cup has to be where it can catch the flow that comes out of the cervix. And I know the cup looks really huge but once it’s in you can’t even feel it just like a tampon.

  • wallflower152 April 24th, 2013 11:02 AM

    Other period tips. Even if your period is like clockwork it can come late once in a while. Don’t worry you are not pregnant nor is there something wrong with you. I usually have very predictable cycles and once it was a week late for no reason at all and I completely freaked out and thought that I was definitely pregnant or that I had some kind of disease. Stressing out about it only makes it come later. Also, if you’ve never had your period but suddenly you get clear, slippery discharge it probably means you are going to start soon. I believe the correct term for this is cervical mucus and a couple weeks before I started I had it and before checking my panties I thought I started but it was only clear fluid stuff. Throughout your monthly cycle you get varying shades/consistencies of cervical mucus and I’m not a dr but here is a link to a site all about it. http://www.cervicalmucus.net/ I wish someone had told me that when you see this in your undies that it means your period is coming soon. Haha two long comments. I have been menstruating for a decade so I have lots to share haha.

  • HollinsCollins April 24th, 2013 11:10 AM

    Yay period tips!
    I have really bad cramps during my period, and I feel really sick and gross…so basically I just lay around with a heating pad under my lower back (omg the heating pad is my BFF) and watch Doctor Who…

  • Kathleen E April 24th, 2013 11:36 AM

    Great article. I am chiming in with some tips too.
    First off, don’t be afraid of tampons! I was. Until I wasn’t. Then my periods were much better.

    But, truly the thing that SAVED me is menstrual cups.

    If you, like me, are blessed (ha) with a REALLY HEAVY flow and sometimes have to change ultra tampons every hour (!), I strongly recommend menstrual cups. They will save you. They are good for your body as well as the environment, and I never have to carry around piles of supplies. And the best part is, now I sometimes forget I am on my period.

    Read all the information you can on http://menstrual-cups.livejournal.com/ before you make the switch. I got used to using one quickly, and find it much more comfortable than tampons.

    My body naturally has a heavy flow, so I accept it. I do take ibuprofin and try herbal remedies to help. But you may want to see a gyno about yours if the amount of blood seems like just too much. It could be managed with birth control or other ways. Good luck.

    • Agnes T April 24th, 2013 12:53 PM

      I agree about the menstrual cup! Switched three years ago and now I just use tampons if I get my period if I’m out and about. It’s also great because bacteria won’t stick on it if you just wash it with soap.

      And great article!!

  • Flower April 24th, 2013 12:31 PM

    I haven’t had a period for six months which freaks me out because I kind of miss the regularity of it and now I spend every single day worrying about if it’s going to start and I won’t be prepared BLAH. I’ve been to the doctor about it and they did a blood test and said there was nothing wrong with me and that I wasn’t pregnant so ugh, is this probably just my body being weird?

  • Olivebee3 April 24th, 2013 1:25 PM

    @Flower, if you have an acupuncture or Chinese medicine practitioner in your area, they can be very helpful with period irregularities.

    If you don’t have access to this kind of treatment there is a book by Randine Lewis. It is called The Infertility Cure. Obviously, this is not your problem, but it is a common issue among older women who are trying to conceive but have no periods. The root cause is the same regardless of age. She recommends dietary changes and self care using acupressure. You might be able to find it at the library:)

  • sully-bean April 24th, 2013 3:14 PM


    Also, I have a thing to say about when you get messy on ur clothes or underwear or whatever- spit/saliva REALLY HELPS GET RID OF STAINS! I learnt this when I was in a dance show a few years back and this girl in a white leotard cut her finger and got blood all over it like half an hour before showtime – if you have something to chew, like a piece of thread, then just like suck it and rub it on the stain and IT'S LIKE MAGIC, SERIOUSLY. If not just, seriously, spit all on it and rub it in. It sounds gross, but trust me, it helps when you come to wash it because it's less likely to stain 5ever. xoxo

  • sparklybella April 24th, 2013 4:14 PM

    This was AWESOME. I’ve always wanted to try tampons instead of regular pads but everytime I think about pushing something into my vagina I flinch. I’ve never tried using them…Tips, anyone?

  • GabbyCat April 24th, 2013 4:23 PM

    My period’s been irregular for about 3 years does that mean something’s seriously wrong? It’s been like that ever since I first got it.

  • Mary the freak April 24th, 2013 4:37 PM

    Ohmy, periods. It sucks!! I got my period in school without carrying tampons with me TWO FUCKING TIMES. I had to call my dad, like “hey dad, please pick me up and tell’em I’m sick, i just got my period” when i stood in the school bathroom, pissed off like hell and having bleeded through my jeans. also, my period is heavy the first two days, like I usually need to change my tampon every hour. There is literally blood everywhere. in the bathroom, on the sheets, on my clothes, on my pillow, and one morning, it even dropped out of me when i was walking to the bathroom and it was so much blood it was awful. after those two days, though, for the rest of the week it’s just almost no blood, but enough to make you wear a tampon. it sucks.
    also, tampons. I was terribly afraid of using tampons before i got my period, and when i got it i was like “ah shit you need something” and my mom only had tampons, so i just took one and put it in, it was so much easier than i thought.
    ohmygosh, just remembered the worst thing about periods. i had a sleepover with my boyfriend for the first time, and it was quite important to us as my dad does not allow sleepovers with boys ( but who cares about rules). I had terrible cramps and couldn’t sleep all night and was totally not in the mood for being with my boyfriend, i felt just so gross. argh periods. and i should have gotten it this week but i didn’t and i am kinda scared what the heck is wrong.

    this article was so helpful thank you so much!

    • Bliss April 24th, 2013 7:06 PM

      I had to go on the pill as soon as my periods started because they were so heavy that blood ran down my leg EVERY TIME I STOOD UP. Grim times.

  • wanderluster66 April 24th, 2013 6:07 PM

    This is so beautiful!!! Thank you so much for all of your priceless advice. And omg, I was kind of early too, 10 or 11, and my mom would use the bra as a threat, and my pubes/armpit hair made me so self-concious. Having older brothers didn’t help – until I got older and realized how much I wanted to flaunt the things they made fun of. With the help of rookie and growing up in general, I’m not ashamed of any part of myself anymore. You guys all rock so much, and this entire site really does make a difference to a lot of people. I love you all! <3
    (P.S. That tampon pin that Arrow De Wilde wore in Lying to you should be mentioned in this article. ;3)

    • Elizabeth April 25th, 2013 12:03 AM

      i HAVE one of those tampons pins and i love them and you can buy them at pygmyhipposhoppe.com!!!!

  • monkshood April 24th, 2013 7:19 PM

    For cramps, I usually use a microwaveable heating pad (the kind that has straps that tie around your waist), and layer it with an electrical heating pad, for long-lasting warmth. I also drink raspberry leaf tea and eat bananas, both of which help cramps – so does exercise, btw. Also, some sugar and comedy shows like Community never fail to swing my mood towards happy. ;)

  • Peanutpug April 24th, 2013 7:25 PM

    WoW! This article has gotten an incredible amount of responses. I suppose it’s something pretty relate-able !

  • Wisteria April 24th, 2013 11:26 PM

    Last month I got cramps so painful that I was thrashing around screaming. My mother thought I was having a seizure, and almost took me to the emergency room.

  • SWIZZLEFAIRY22 April 25th, 2013 3:39 PM

    Is it normal to crave certain food during your eskimo (period code name)? I live on kit-kats, spicy nacho doritos and vanilla ice cream (only blue bell!!)

    • monkshood April 25th, 2013 4:35 PM

      I love that code name! Yeah, it’s totally normal. I always crave chocolate Häagen-Dazs ice cream, and warm soup.

  • 3yoosh April 26th, 2013 6:59 AM

    I’ve never used a tampon in my life. I think it has to do with growing up in Muslim culture, where tampons aren’t allowed until you lose your virginity (which is after marriage, even though I don’t practice religion, it just effected the way I grew up). I actually got my period today, and it’s like a week early, which is weird. I mean, i’m 16 and I got my first period 2 months before my 15th birthday, but it’s barely irregular. Idk, i was really really horny this week (yea I know, tmi) but I always feel that I get my period right after, what I call either ‘mating week’ or ‘horny-time’. Is that normal? I mean I get really horny, and that lasts about a week, and then 3-5 days later I get my period. Except this time it was right afterward. Is that just me?

    • reginageorge April 26th, 2013 7:27 PM

      My Muslim friends used tampons before losing their virginities (and certainly before getting married) but they just used the smaller tampons. Some of my hardcore Christian friends didn’t. I think it has to do with the notion that a tampon will tear your hymen and that is what defines your virginity, but to be honest, as far as I know smaller tampons won’t do that, and your hymen can “tear” (it’s not a very accurate term) by doing any other activities like physical exercise or horse riding.

      As to feeling horny after your period, that’s normal. Just like it’s normal to not feel like that at all. Through your menstrual cycle, your hormones fluctuate a lot. This can obviously have an effect on mood, depending on the person. From what I’ve heard, it’s more common to feel more sexual during ovulation (which is usually about halfway through the cycle) than right before your period, but it can happen! I used to know a girl who was exactly like that and we used to joke about it a lot. The fact that it went from right before to right after your period is probably not too much to worry about, either, even the way the hormones make you feel, etc. is still very new for the first couple of years of your period.

  • Ella W April 26th, 2013 11:07 AM

    I’m really worried as I’ve read through all the comments and no one has really mentioned this:
    Whenever I try to put a tampon in (I’ve only tried like 3 times in my life) it hurts, and I get super nauseous. I feel really really sick. One time, I kept the tampon in for an hour and felt like I was physically going to throw up. I then felt nauseous for 2 days after that.

    I have talked to my friends, and they said that I didn’t push it far enough in, as I used a non applicator one, and only pushed it so that the bottom of the tampon was inside my vagina, not the bottom of the applicator.

    This is most likely the case, but the thing is, every time I try now, knowing how far to push it in, I get a wave of nausea from remembering that first time.

    What is wrong with me?? It seems like no one else in the comments seems to get this! I thought it was kind of normal, and that’s why they sell pads too, but obviously not…

    I would really really like some advice on this, I am really worried.

    • 3yoosh April 26th, 2013 12:15 PM

      I think that it’s your body telling you that it isn’t comfortable with it. Perhaps the alternate methods are more suited to you. But if it’s really really bothering you perhaps ask your mother or even a doctor. I would just listen to what your body is telling you.

    • reginageorge April 26th, 2013 7:16 PM

      Did you feel sick because of the pain, or was it random sickness?

      If it was pain and it hurt the first time you tried but no longer does, you were probably not putting the tampon in correctly. If it still hurts a lot, maybe it’s what the article described. If you’ve tried several times, especially if you’ve had sex, and it still hurts, you should see a doctor. Also, try to relax — if you’re stressed, your muscles will tighten up and it will hurt a lot more. Just remember that it’s not a big deal, everyone has awful period experiences once in a while and this is just a step on the path to finding out what works for you.

      Are you wearing the right size for you? Maybe try different brands, with different absorbency and size?

      If it’s just random nausea, I’ve never heard of anything like that! Could it be that you feel sick BECAUSE you remember the time(s) when you felt sick? A bit like when you eat a bad sandwich and throw up, and then whenever you see a sandwich like that, even though it’s fine, you still feel a bit sick because you remember that bad experience.

      If not, what I said above still holds true, maybe try different brands and stuff, try unbleached tampons, and see a doctor if nothing works.

      I hope this helps.

      • Ella W April 27th, 2013 6:26 PM

        Thanks for replying. Maybe next time I get my period I’ll have another go, and if it happens again go and see a doctor or something.
        Love you Rookie!

    • Nikilodeon May 3rd, 2013 9:18 AM

      this exact same happened to me! the first time i wore a tampon, i fainted. i only wore it for about an hour because i could feel it, and it was painful and uncomfortable. i had to take it out and i’ve been too traumatized by that first experience to wear one since that first time.

  • reginageorge April 26th, 2013 7:09 PM

    This article is excellent, I’m 20 and I still learnt some new tricks! Here is my own advice, too:

    * In addition to the BC pills, there are other types of pills that can help you if you get horrible cramps or irregular periods. If your parents don’t let you get on the pill or whatever, this may be an option, so asking a doctor can help.

    * If hurting a tampon hurts a lot, or having sex after your first times hurts a lot, try to relax and loosen up your muscles. If that still doesn’t work, see a good doctor.

    * I second trying different types of medicine to figure out what works for your cramps. Ibuprofen makes my cramps more or less stop but it makes me feel worse.

    * If your tampon gets stuck and you seriously can’t remove it, don’t be embarrassed or afraid — just go to the emergency room. Don’t use any objects to try to remove them, disinfect them in boiling water if you do.

    * If (like me) you don’t have regular periods at all, the most you can do is the listen-to-your-body thing. Also, see a doctor. A lot of things can be causing it and the sooner you get it checked out the better.

    * Carry some baby wipes in your bag.

    * Finally, THIS IS IMPORTANT: use the new tampon/pad wrapper to wrap the one you removed (if it has a little sticker/adhesive bit, use that to close it) before throwing it out. Save the first wrapper of the month to use for the last one if you want. If you can’t use the wrapper for some reason make a very tight roll of toilet paper, tuck the end in (like a scarf). Don’t flush them down, use the tampon container or waste bin. Everyone will thank you.

  • reginageorge April 26th, 2013 7:29 PM

    Also, I forgot to say! If warmth makes you feel worse, for example in the Summer, you should try using an ice bag on your abdomen instead. That’s what I use when I get cramps and it works better for me. (And in a way that might be totally superstitious, I also feel like it helps with the bleeding. It makes it more bearable by boosting morale, at least.)

  • lynnerb April 26th, 2013 7:32 PM

    ok, this is something it took a long time for me to figure out, and i would like to spare any girl the agony of this- the plastic part of tampons DO NOT stay in your body. I don’t know why I thought this, but i would take out the applicator stick and keep the plastic case around the tampon inside. it was uncomfortable and of course didn’t absorb any blood. so, don’t do that.

  • glitter riot April 26th, 2013 8:00 PM

    I wish I had this when I was 11 and first got my period because when I first got it it was really light and was so terrified I started crying. When I finally told my mom she was like oh, you probably have your period. And bought me pads. The next time I got it I hated everyone and everything because there was so much blood and my mom told me I couldn’t use tampons because I was a virgin. Eventually I researched all this myself and cursed out my mom and made her buy me tampons. Seriously, my life would have been SO much easier. DAMN YOU PATRIARCHAL SOCIETY FOR MAKING THIS AND EVERYTHING ELSE TABOO.

  • flocha June 23rd, 2013 4:27 PM

    I only started when I was fifteen and I was the last in my friend to start, so by the time I did I had heard them talk about it so much that I felt seriously prepared, and my mum is always good with this stuff. Mine aren’t too irregular, they always come within about a week of when I predict them but I always get a pain in my back and up my legs just before I do, which is kind of annoying but also a good warning!

  • em.h95 July 8th, 2013 7:46 PM

    This article is great! Just wish there was more info about tampon removal…I’m 17 and just started using tampons. They go in fine but even after 8 hours of use they hurt like hell when I try to get them out. I think it’s just because they dont get wet enough (even though I’m using the lowest absorbency possible)but I’m way tired of using pads. Any tips for me? :)

    • Anaheed July 8th, 2013 8:06 PM

      When you take a tampon out, is it totally soaked through with blood, or is it mostly white?

      • em.h95 July 10th, 2013 11:12 AM

        It always has blood on it, but I wouldn’t consider it totally soaked through…

  • kurenable August 17th, 2013 9:36 PM

    I have to disagree with your tampon advice– if you are a first time tampon user throw out those applicators! they are awful and confusing and do not make it easy to get the tampon in right. (also as other people have mentioned they are usually loooong and weird shaped, the only good ones I’ve found are Kotex U). OB is the way to go! I never could deal with tampons and I even had a few fall out (once while I was in the pool swimming at girl scout camp, fml) but once I had to put them in with my own fingers I finally figured it out. Tampons are harder than you’re led to believe when you’re a preteen, but once you figure them out they’re so much better than pads, I cannot express enough how awful pads are.

    and a good alternative to a hot water bottle is a heating pad, you can get them at walmart and they plug in, you can take a nap with them without them getting cold.

    and be aware that different painkillers work differently for different people! I was using Midol for years thinking my cramps were just too painful for medicine and then I realized that acetometaphin just didn’t do it for me and switched to ibuprofen.