Periods can take a bit of getting used to. They’re messy, painful and associated with a lot of change. If you’ve just gotten your first period, congrats! Getting your period isn’t all bad; it means you’re on your way to adulthood and your body is working properly. If you’re not sure how to deal with this new monthly cycle, we’ve got you covered.
1) Be Aware Of Period Signs
If you’re new to periods, you might not be able to recognise when it’s coming or why you’re feeling off in your body. Common menstrual symptoms include abdominal cramps, pelvic pain, lower back pain, headaches or migraines, breast tenderness, and fatigue. Or maybe you have none of these!
The most obvious sign of a period is blood in your underwear. However, this can be a little bit confusing because the blood can come in different volumes and colours, especially if you’ve just got your period. Period blood may be dark or light. There might be blood clots. The heaviness of the blood will vary throughout the entire period. Everyone bleeds slightly differently!
2) Trial Period Products
Sometimes we feel held back from certain activities when we’re on our period. Your period doesn’t have to stop you from swimming, exercising, or going out with friends. Choosing the right period product for the activity can alleviate some of the nerves.
Period products can include tampons, disposable pads, reusable cloth pads, menstrual cups and discs, or period underwear. Most of these products are available at local supermarkets or chemists, but can also be purchased online. If you’ve tried a variety of period products, you’ll know which ones you prefer and when you prefer them.
Pads or period underwear are the best to sleep in because tampons can only be worn for a few hours. Tampons or menstrual cups are great for swimming, but if you don’t feel comfortable using an internal period product, Modibodi have a range of leak-proof swimwear. A menstrual cup is ideal for when you have a whole day of activities planned and don’t want to worry about changing your pad or tampon every few hours.
3) Relax Your Pelvic Muscles
Every adult with a menstrual cycle remembers the pain of trying to insert a tampon or menstrual cup for the first time. It’s normal to take some time to get the hang of this. The most important thing to remember is that the body needs to be completely relaxed before putting anything into the vagina. Be gentle and take your time.
Take some deep breaths, listen to some calming music, and maybe go to the toilet first to relax your pelvic muscles. Instead of inserting the tampon or menstrual cup straight upwards, hold it at a 45-degree angle towards your lower back or tailbone. To find a comfortable position, try squatting, sitting on the toilet, or putting one leg up on the bathroom bench.
4) Track Your Period
There’s a lot to know about tracking a menstrual cycle, but don't worry, you don’t have to learn the entire process at once. Start by working out roughly when your period is due. Think about your last period. When did it start and end? Which days were the heaviest or most painful? If you can’t remember, start when your next period comes around! There are heaps of free apps to help you track your period, such as Kindara, Flo, Period Diary, or Clue.
The idea of tracking your period is to be aware of the dates so you’re not taken by surprise next month. If you can take note of the symptoms and heaviness too, that might help you predict when to stock up on period products or add some extra chocolate to the grocery list.
Once you’re well-versed in period tracking, you can start to track your whole cycle. Did you know your period is only one of four stages in your monthly cycle? To find out more about these four phases and why you might want to track the entire cycle, read our blog on Understanding the 4 Stages of the Menstrual Cycle.
5) Create A Period Pack
Despite cycle tracking, sometimes our bodies march to the beat of their own drum. Period packs are lifesavers when ‘Aunty Flo’ makes an unexpected visit. To make sure you never have to go without the essentials, grab a little pouch or bag that will fit some tampons (or your product of choice), intimate wipes, and spare undies. A period pain relief device, painkillers, a heat pack, or tea bags are some great additions to soothe any pesky aches and cramps.
You may want to create more than one pack so you can take one on the go in your bag and keep another one at school. Not everyone feels comfortable flaunting their period products around in front of others, so having a cute little pouch with all the essentials inside is an easy, subtle way to manage your period in public. (Periods are no secret, though; half the population has them!)
6) Prepare For Blood Stains
Every person who bleeds will accidentally stain their pants in public or wake up to red bed sheets at some point in their life. It just happens, even as adults. It doesn’t need to be embarrassing. If you see someone with blood stains on their pants, take them aside and let them know in private. One day we’ll be flaunting blood stains with pride!
For now, blood stains can be removed. Yes, even from your beautiful white bed sheets. Soaking the clothing item or sheets in stain remover and cold water is a great first step. You can also dab the stain directly with hydrogen peroxide. Blood-removing hacks are all over the internet, so go forth and choose what works best for you! Don’t be afraid to ask others for help, everyone’s been through it.
7) Give Your Body Rest
By definition, periods are a time of low energy. The lining of your uterus is shedding to prep for the process of trying to get pregnant again. Don’t beat yourself up if you feel a little bit more tired, sensitive, or short-tempered while menstruating. You’re not supposed to feel your best.
You’re allowed to take a day off from school or work when you’re in pain. If you don’t feel up to smashing your regular exercise routine, opt for walks or yoga instead. Acknowledge any pain you feel; don’t dismiss it. But remember, period pain is common, not normal. If you’re experiencing intense symptoms around the time of your period, chatting to a doctor or healthcare professional is recommended.
8) Get A Pain Relief Device
Pain associated with periods is a concern for many. Painkillers, heat packs, yoga poses, and calming teas can only do so much to relieve the pain. Luckily, VUSH’s period pain relief device, Aura, is here to help. Aura is a little vibrating device that sends electro currents to the brain to stop pain signals. It is discreet and cordless, which means you can wear it under your clothes and go about your daily life. No more cancelling plans to lie in the foetal position in pain.