Fun fact, the first period a girl has is called her menarche (say MEN-ar-kee), kind of like anarchy… Which is sort of how your first period can feel. Your body is being overthrown by hormones that are going to take charge of you, changing your body and the way you feel.
People react to this body-anarchy in a whole host of different ways, with fear, dread or even eager excitement. As intimidating as these big changes can seem, many girls can feel like they have missed the crimson wave if their friends have already started their periods and they haven’t. Try not to worry, these things just take time and it’ll come when your body is ready!
Predicting the beginning of your menstrual cycle is not an exact science, but it’s good to be prepared, both mentally and practically-speaking (so you don’t get caught off guard and leak through your undies). If you know how to read the signs your body gives you, you can be as informed as possible… Ready and waiting for Aunt Flo!
1. Your Age
You would think that age would play the biggest factor in determining when you’re going to start your period. But, it isn’t really just age that matters, it’s all about puberty. Most girls begin puberty around the age of 11 but it can start anywhere between 8 and 14. That’s when your body develops from a child’s to an adult’s.
You develop breasts and body hair; in fact, you grow a lot in general (it’s why you’re taller than all the boys). You can also get acne and experience moods swings that really feel like emotional anarchy. It may not be the best thing about being a teenager, but it is all part of becoming a woman.
You will probably get your period about a year after you start noticing these changes, which for most girls that’s around age 12, but the range is actually pretty huge. You can get your period any time between 9 and 15 and be considered totally normal!
One thing you can do to help predict when you’ll get your first period is ask your mom when she started hers; genetics play a big part in how you develop and if your mom got her period at 15 and you’re 12 right now, your period may not arrive for another couple of years.
2. You Need a Bra!
One of the big signs that your period is on its way is that you’ve gotten boobs. Hoorah! Now, this does not mean the bigger your breasts are, the more likely you are to have your period! But, breast development is one of the first signs of puberty.
When your breasts will become tender and feel a little raised, this is the first sign they’re developing. It can be a little sore but that’s all par for the course and a sign your period is about a year away!
Top tip: keep a diary to help keep track of the changes that are happening to your body, you can take measurements, jot down the dates that you notice changes, that kind of thing.
3. Hair Downstairs
Pubic hair, or pubes, as you have probably heard them called, arrive soon after your breasts begin to develop. At first you will notice soft fluffy hair that begins to appear around your vulva and on your pubic bone; it will slowly get darker and courser over time.
Your period will should arrive around a year or so after you begin to grow pubic hair. Now, we hear what you’re thinking, ‘a year or so’ is not very exact but, all the signs are pointing in the right direction!
4. Tell-Tale Discharge
You might think vaginal discharge is not something to be super excited about. But you’re wrong, oh so wrong! Let us explain, vaginal discharge is usually a clear or white-ish, sticky liquid that comes from your vagina (though it can vary).
It is caused by the changing hormones in your body and it’s just your vagina’s way of keeping itself clean and moisturized so good bacteria can grow and you can stay healthy. (Your vagina is really good at looking after itself!) So say a big hello to vaginal discharge, as it means your period is about a year to six months away!
5. You’re Crying at Cat Videos
This is the big one: premenstrual syndrome, or PMS for short. Normally you experience PMS one or two weeks before your period begins so this is a sign that your period is right around the corner! Recognizing the symptoms of PMS can be a bit tricky; some people don’t get it at all, other people really do.
You may experience some of the following symptoms: acne, tender breasts, tiredness, bloating, an upset tummy, or strange food cravings, not to mention you may feel super emotional. Even period veterans sometimes get their periods, then look back on the past week and think ‘oh, that’s why I was crying over that cat video two days ago!’ Pesky hormones can catch us all by surprise, so don’t worry if you don’t recognize the symptoms straight away.
Mood swings happen throughout puberty, so knowing if it’s just a mood swing or your period knocking on the door can be pretty tricky!
Though it’s easier said than done, try not to compare yourself to your friends. Your period will come when your body is ready; if you hit 16 and you still have no sign of it, go and speak to a doctor, they will be able to run tests and give you some clear answers.
A big step towards handling your first period smoothly is being prepared.
Carry a spare pair of undies in your bag and a panty liner, just in case you get your period when you’re not at home. Do a bit of research into some of the period protection products out there. You can try out everything to find out what works best for you and your body.
We of course, recommend menstrual cups, which can be used from your very first period. Not only are they great for the environment and your vagina, they are inserted just like tampons. They are also suitable for virgins, really easy to use and to keep clean. There you have it, how to predict the beginning of menstrual anarchy and how to prepare for it, so let the menarche begin!
Lane Baumeister is an internationally-based Canadian writer with several years’ experience creating educational and entertaining articles that discuss intimate health and sexual well-being. When not waxing profound about menstruation, she devotes herself to enjoying extremely good food and equally bad movies.