Your First Period

Everything you need to know about getting your first period!

Teen – Puberty – Your First Period

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Written by Jen Bell

  |  Reviewed by Staci Tanouye, M.D.

BLOOM has created this section to help you be prepared, so that you won’t be caught off guard! Your first period, (Menarche), is a sign that you are getting close to the end of puberty. For everyone who has a uterus, periods are a natural, healthy part of growing up. Once you start your period, you can expect to get one about once a month until menopause (when you’re around 45-55 years old). Periods can temporarily stop during pregnancy, breast feeding, some illnesses, or if you use hormonal medication such as some types of birth control. Your period shouldn’t get in the way of you exercising, having fun, and enjoying life! Most females assigned at birth get their first period when they’re around 9-14 years old. If you haven’t gotten your first period, take the our First Period Quiz, to see when you can expect it! Transgender boys, nonbinary people, and intersex people can also get their period if they have a uterus and ovaries. To learn more about your period if you identify as transgender, nonbinary, or intersex, click here.

How long do periods last?

The length of a period can vary from one person to another, and from one menstrual cycle to another, but the typical length is between 3-7 days of bleeding. Your first few periods might be quite short, with only a little bit of bleeding.

How often does a period happen?

In the first few years, it’s normal for your menstrual cycle (the time from day 1 of one period to day 1 of the next period) to vary from 21-45 days. About three years after your first period, you should have a period every 21-34 days, with the average cycle length being 28 days. Usually, it takes a few years from your first period until your cycle becomes regular. This is because your hormone levels take some time to come into balance.

How much blood will come out?

Your period flow (volume) is the amount of blood that comes out, and the easiest way to measure it is by noting how often you need to change your period products. Your flow may be light, regular, heavy, or very heavy. You’ll probably need to change your pad, tampon, or menstrual cup about 3–6 times a day. The average volume of menstrual blood is only between 3-8 tablespoons for your entire period. During your period, you may have some light days when you’re barely bleeding at all, and then some days where your bleeding is heavier. The color and consistency of the blood can change, and you may notice small dark clumps or clots. For more information about your period flow, visit BLOOM’s Signs of Your Cycle Page.

When will I get my first period?

Most females assigned at birth get their first period when they’re around 9-14 years old. If you haven’t gotten your first period, take our First Period Quiz, to see when you can expect it! Everybody has its own programming, and the timing of your first period can be influenced by a variety of factors. If you’re expecting your period and it hasn’t come by your 15th birthday, it’s a good idea to speak with your doctor.

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Signs your First Period is Coming

It can be tricky to know when your first period will come, but there are some clues that can indicate it will start soon. Most of the time, your first period will arrive about 2-3 years after your breasts start to develop, and around 1-2 years after pubic hair starts to grow around your genitals and underarms. These are just some of the changes that happen to your body during puberty. To learn more about puberty, visit BLOOM’s Puberty page.

A telltale sign that your period is coming soon, is vaginal discharge (sort of like mucus) that you might see or feel on your underwear. This discharge usually begins about 6 months to a year before the onset of your first period and may look clear and stringy. This all may sound sort of weird, but trust us, vaginal discharge is normal and can be used as a helpful indicator of where you are in your cycle. To learn more about the different types of vaginal discharge you may experience throughout your cycle and what they mean, read BLOOM’s Signs of your Cycle information.

Another sign that your first period is fast approaching is premenstrual syndrome or PMS. Though there are some negative stereotypes about PMS, it has many positive effects too! You might have heard about the chocolate cravings, cramps, and headaches, but did you know that many people report increased creativity, sharpened senses, and deeper emotional connections during this time?

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