Here's a list of questions that come up quite often from children about puberty and periods. Answers come from information available on the NHS website. More coming soon!
*Please note, that this page is intended for information purposes only and should not be used for medical advice. If you have any medical concerns please speak to your GP.
A period is when you lose some fluid, including blood, from your vagina (one of the openings between your legs). This is a sign of a normal and healthy body and is nothing to worry about. It happens to most women each month and is a natural part of growing up.
The simple answer to this is when your body is ready and it varies from person to person. Most girls start their period around the age of 12, but it could be as young as 8 or as old as 15. Try not to compare your experience with others. Your period is unique, just like you!
There are a few clues, that your body gives you, to let you know that you might get your first period soon:
All of these changes are completely normal but if you are worried at all, speak to a trusted adult.
Breast buds are little berry-sized bumps, under the nipple, that are the first signs of breast growth. Breast buds can make your areola, the dark skin around your nipple, appear raised and puffy. One side may grow at a different time to the other and it can be itchy and sore. Don't worry, this is all completely normal, but speak to a trusted adult if you are concerned.
When you have your period, you will not feel a sudden flow of blood, you may only see some spotting, which is small red or dark brown spots, in your pants. As you have more periods, it may become more red in colour. It should not be painful, although you may experience cramps in your lower back or tummy. Speak to your mum, dad or trusted adult if you have any worries.
Initially, you may only notice a small amount of red or brown spots in your pants. As you have more periods, the amount of blood will increase. It may seem like there's a lot, but there will probably be around 3 to 5 tablespoons of blood altogether. Always ask a trusted adult if you are concerned at all.
When your first period arrives it might not happen very regularly, as it can take your body some months to get into a regular pattern, but once it has settled, you will most likely get a period every 28 - 30 days but anywhere between 21 and 35 days is normal.
Your first periods may not last very long, but once your body has got into a regular cycle, your period may last between 3 to 7 days.
Having a period should not be painful. However, you may experience cramps in the lower part of your tummy or your back which should only last a day or two. To help ease the pain you can:
If these suggestions do not help, then speak to your mum, dad or trusted adult for more options.
Only if you tell them! You will look exactly the same to everyone as the day before.
Not at all, having a period is a healthy part of growing up and it shouldn't stop you from doing all the things you did before.
Once you start showing some of the signs that your first period may start soon, it's a good idea to start keeping a few supplies with you in your school bag. Your 'Period Kit' should contain some sanitary products and a spare pair of pants. You could also add hand sanitiser, wipes and disposal bags. See our ready made kits for ideas.
There are lots of different sanitary products that you can use, including disposable pads, tampons, menstrual cups and reusable pads. Which one you choose is really up to you as all of these products are suitable to use by children. However, tampons and menstrual cups do take a bit of getting use to, so you might want to start with pads first.
Pads come in different shapes and sizes because each girl is different and so are your periods and the level of protection you need during the different days of your period. For those days and situations when you need a high level of protection it’s best to choose a pad with wings. These wings wrap around the sides of your underwear to help the pads stay in place. For those days when you need a little bit less protection it’s fine to use a shorter length pad without wings. You might need more protection at night as you are lying down and may move around in your sleep and because you probably wear a pad for longer than you would during the day. There are pads especially for night-time and usually last the night.
How often you change your pads depends on how heavy your flow is and the kind of pad you are using. As you get older, near the beginning of your period when the flow is heaviest you may need to change your pad more regularly. You need to change them regularly to keep yourself fresh and clean. Also, they may start to leak if you wear them for too long. Remember to wash your hands before and after changing your pad. Remember when you first start your periods, they will be very light, but you still need to change your pad regularly around every 3 to 5 hours.
Your 'Period Kit' should contain some sanitary products and a spare pair of pants. You could also add hand sanitiser, wipes and sanitary disposal bags. See our ready made kits for ideas.
First of all, don't panic!! It's happened to most of us at some point. You are not the first and you will definitely not be the last.
If you realise when you are in class, ask to be excused to go to the toilet, taking your period kit with you. Put some fresh pants on and your chosen sanitary products. Try and rinse your pants to remove any blood if possible using cold water only (hot water will set the stain). Don't worry if you can't remove the stain, we all have "Period" pants at home that have been there, done that!
If you can't rinse your pants, it's no problem, either put them in a sanitary disposal bag to take home for washing or dispose of them in a bin.
If you don't have your Period kit with you, or if you have run out, you have got lots of options.
There isn't a perfect time to start the conversation about periods, but as girls can start their periods as young as 8, this would a good time to start. Often, by the time they have the talk at school, it can be too late.
Puberty and periods should be something that is talked about little and often and not saved for one big talk. Initially, you might want to start chatting when out buying sanitary products for your partner. There might also be TV programmes or movies that might mention body changes, mood swings which will give another perfect opportunity.
If there is another female in the house or family, you could approach the subject together to make it easier.
Don't be tempted to cover everything you know all in one go! You'll need to go over it a few times over the years.
It totally makes sense if you prefer a female member of the family to have the chat about periods. However, being involved from early on can reassure your daughter that there is nothing to be worried or embarrassed about.
Periods can start at any age from 8 to 16, but the average age in the UK is 12. There are two types of signs, those that are visible and those that you will only know if your daughter tells you.
Visible signs include
Try and make sure you have had the conversation about periods early and talk about what you will both do to be ready for when it starts. Here's a getting ready checklist.
Don't panic, this happens to even the most prepared of us! Some folded up toilet tissue will be fine until you are able to get some supplies.
Starting a period is a big change and there is a lot to remember and get used to. You can be an amazing help if: