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My First Period

A guide to understanding and navigating this new chapter.

Congratulations! You’re embarking on an exciting new journey as a young woman. Your first period is a significant milestone in your life. It signifies the beginning of your reproductive years and brings with it a range of emotions and experiences. In this blog, we’ll talk about what a period is, why women get it, and provide you with valuable tips to help ease any discomfort you may encounter. Buckle up, and let’s delve into the world of periods!

What is a period?

A period, also known as menstruation, is a natural process that occurs in women of reproductive age. It involves shedding the lining of the uterus, which was built up in preparation for a potential pregnancy. When fertilisation doesn’t occur, the uterus sheds this lining and the blood and tissue exit the body through the vagina.

Why do women get their periods?

As a girl reaches puberty, her body undergoes various hormonal changes. These changes are orchestrated by oestrogen and progesterone, two hormones responsible for maturing the reproductive system. During each menstrual cycle, an egg is released from the ovaries. If the egg isn’t fertilized, the uterus sheds its lining, resulting in a period. This cyclical process typically lasts for around 28 days but can vary from person to person. On average, a period lasts around 3-7 days. However, it’s important to note that this is just a general guideline, and some individuals may have shorter or longer periods.

Blood loss: What’s normal?

Contrary to popular belief, the amount of blood lost during your period may be less than you might expect. On average, women lose about 30-40 millilitres (around 2-3 tablespoons) of blood during one menstrual cycle.

It’s important to note that this can vary significantly from person to person. If you have concerns about heavy bleeding, such as soaking through pads within a short period, consult with a healthcare professional for further evaluation.

What are the most common symptoms?

When it comes to periods, it’s not just about the blood flow. Many women experience a range of symptoms that can occur before, during, or after their periods. Some common symptoms include:

  • Bloating: Feeling your abdomen swell or experiencing discomfort due to water retention.
  • Cramping: Mild to severe abdominal pain caused by uterine contractions. Heat therapy, exercise, and over-the-counter pain relievers can help manage this symptom.
  • Mood swings: Fluctuations in hormones can impact your mood, leading to irritability, sadness, or anxiety. Practicing self-care and engaging in activities that boost your mood can be helpful.
  • Sore breasts: Breast tenderness or swelling due to hormonal changes. Wearing a supportive bra and applying warm compresses may alleviate discomfort.
  • Food cravings: It’s not uncommon to experience cravings for certain foods, especially those high in carbohydrates or sugar. Maintaining a balanced diet and managing cravings can help maintain overall well-being.
  • Headaches and fatigue: Hormonal fluctuations can contribute to headaches and feelings of tiredness. Staying hydrated, getting regular sleep, and managing stress levels are essential to combat these symptoms.

Remember, each person’s experience is unique, and you may not necessarily experience all these symptoms. It’s important to listen to your body and reach out to healthcare professionals if symptoms become severe or interfere with your daily life.

Tips for easing period pain

Period pain is a common experience for many women. While it’s different for everyone, some find their periods uncomfortable due to cramps, bloating, or fatigue. Here are some tips to help alleviate period pain:

  • Heat therapy: Applying a heating pad, warm water bottle or taking a warm bath can help relax the muscles in your abdomen, reducing cramps and discomfort.
  • Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers: Anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen can provide relief from period pain. Remember to always follow the recommended dosage.
  • Exercise: Engaging in light exercise, such as walking or yoga, can help stimulate blood flow, release endorphins, and reduce menstrual cramps.
  • Relaxation techniques: Practicing deep breathing exercises, meditation, or mindfulness can help you manage stress and minimize menstrual discomfort.

Remember, if your period pain is severe or significantly interferes with your daily life, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional for further assessment.

Maintaining Hygiene During Your Period

When you have your period, maintaining good hygiene practices is crucial for your comfort and overall well-being. Here are some essential tips:

  • Regular Changing: Change your sanitary products (pads, tampons, or menstrual cups) frequently, ideally every 4-6 hours, to prevent odour and infection.
  • Washing: Use warm water and a gentle, fragrance-free soap to clean your external genital area while avoiding harsh chemicals that may disrupt the natural pH balance.
  • Proper Disposal: Dispose of used sanitary products in designated bins or wrap them securely in toilet paper before throwing them in the trash.
  • Stay Hydrated: Drinking plenty of water helps flush out toxins from your body and can alleviate bloating and water retention associated with periods.
  • Comfortable Underwear: opt for breathable, cotton underwear to ensure proper airflow and reduce the risk of irritation.

Empowering Women, One Period at a Time

Understanding your body and embracing your menstrual cycle is a vital part of being a woman. By debunking myths and providing accurate information, we hope to empower you with knowledge to make informed decisions about your health. At Ackermans, we’ve put together a ‘My First Period Starter Kit’ to help you with your period that includes 1 toiletry bag, 2 Panadol tablets, Feminine Wipes as well as 2 sanitary pads, available online at www.ackermans.co.za.

Remember, every woman’s period experience is unique, so be patient with yourself, be prepared, and take care of your body. Together, we can break the silence surrounding periods and create a world where every woman has access to menstrual hygiene products, fighting against period poverty.

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