On becoming a woman
One of the greatest parts of growing up is hitting that milestone of having a period and passing from childhood to womanhood. This can be one of the best moments of your life or you can view it as one of the worstJ Let’s take some lessons from the devotional and focus on the half-full part of it.
What are some signs that your period is coming?
The age at which a young girl can start menstruating (another word for period) is anywhere from 8-15 years of age. Seems like a big age gap! Starting early or starting late, doesn’t mean that your body is any less of a woman, it just means that everything is in place now for you to start into womanhood. There are often some signs that you may be nearing your first period. Breast development and pubic hair growth often begin a couple of years before menstruation. Some girls may experience a growth spurt about a year before they begin.
The typical menstrual cycle lasts 28 days, but periods are often irregular during the first few years of menstruation. Sometimes during this time, girls may skip cycles or they may occur at multiple intervals during the month. This can be from stress or by your hormones being out of whack. If they seem to get worse, talk to your mother about them and she can speak to your doctor about the issues. A girls first period is usually very light, with sometimes only spotting or very little blood.
What is happening inside of me?
I am going to give you the shortened version of what is happening. I would suggest you talk with your Mom or other older woman in your life about what is going on inside of you. God has given you a uterus. A uterus is a special place that will one day, hold a baby inside of it. From the time you are born, God has given you all of the “eggs” that you will ever need inside of your ovaries, isn’t that wonderful that you are “equipped” from the beginning—God has a plan!
Day 1 starts with the first day of your period. This occurs after your hormone levels drop at the end of the previous cycle, signaling blood and tissues lining the uterus to break down and shed from the body. Bleeding lasts about 5 days.
Usually by Day 7, bleeding has stopped. Leading up to this time, hormones stimulate fluid-filled pockets called follicles to develop on the ovaries. Each follicle contains an egg.
Between Day 7 and 14, one follicle will continue to develop and reach maturity. The lining of the uterus starts to thicken, waiting for a fertilized egg to implant there. The lining is rich in blood and nutrients.
Day 14, hormones cause the mature follicle to burst and release an egg from the ovary. This process is called ovulation. Over the next few days, the egg travels down through the fallopian tubes towards the uterus. If a sperm from a male, unites with the egg here, the fertilized egg will continue down the fallopian tube and attach to the lining of the uterus.
If the egg is not fertilized by a male sperm, hormone levels will drop around day 25. This signals the next menstrual cycle to begin. The egg will break apart and be shed from the uterus opening—the cervix, and out of your vagina. This results in small blood spots in your underwear.
This is a very normal process and every woman you come in contact with has gone through this. I would suggest that you keep a small maxi pad in your purse to take with you, in case your period begins. Your first one you don’t get any major signs that it is going to happen. When you go to the bathroom, check the inside of your underwear to look for any spotting. One of girl’s biggest fears is that they are going to start flowing blood and it is going to soak through their clothing for everyone to see. In all my years of knowing girls, I have never met anyone who has had a horrible experience like that. Normally it is a very subtle amount, enough so that it doesn’t go through your clothing. If you notice something wet, go check in the bathroom.
You may normally have a slight discharge in your underwear each month that is yellow and mucous-like, to help that, you can wear a small pantiliner. These are mini pads that you can’t normally feel, but help make you feel fresher. If you happen to start your period, this will help to not get all over.
What happens when I do start?
If you need to change your underwear, get a fresh pair on and insert a pad into the lining of your underpants. I would suggest underwear that have a cotton lining to them. You can choose maxi pads that have “wings” on them and they wrap around your underwear. This will help keep them into place and prevents leaks. Your first period tends to be very light. Choose a pad with light flow on the package and you should be fine. As you get older, your flow may increase and you can purchase a heavier flow type pad. But no need to wear a bulky one for your first one. They are super thin and you can hardly tell that you are wearing them.
For the blood stained underwear, if you have hydrogen peroxide squirt it directly onto the blood. It will literally fizzle away the blood. Then rinse off in cold water. If you use hot water it will set the stain. This works great in case you have any leaks in your clothing as well.
When I was younger, I started having two sets of underwear. One for the time of the month and one for regular use. The time of the month were just plain cotton ones, that might get stained, but were comfortable to wear. Just a suggestion as you get older.
How often do I change pads?
Having your periods can cause you to have a slight odor down in that area. Your best defense is to make sure that you shower at least once daily. Put on fresh underwear, a new pad, and clean clothing. Wear some deodorant every day. Every time you go to the bathroom, typically every 2-3 hours, you should change your pad. When you take off the pad, use the wrapper from the new one to wrap around the old pad. Take a strip of toilet paper and wrap around it the opposite way, to avoid seeing any of the contents. Push it down into the wastebasket to dispose of it. I have been in many places, where girls just throw it into the garbage can, yuck! That is very unpleasant to look at. Wrap it up tightly and dispose in trash can. These will begin to smell if you do not empty your trash on a regular basis. Make sure you do this.
Having good, clean personal hygiene is your best defense in worrying about odors.