First Period

The first menstrual period is known as the menarche. The term is pronounced: MEN-ar-kee. It is usual for the menarche to arrive when a young girl is between the ages of 11-14 years. However, a first period can arrive much earlier, even at the age of 9 years, or much later, when a girl is 15 years old. If your daughter hasn't had her period by the age of 15, schedule her for an appointment with your gynecologist.

The menarche is an important sign that a girl is turning into a woman. Besides having her menstrual period, the young girl's body will start to change. The first sign of breasts, called breast buds, will appear, after which pubic and underarm hair will begin to grow. At this time, a girl's hips will also begin to widen in future expectation of childbirth.

The menarche is a sign that it is now possible for a girl to get pregnant as a result of sexual activity. Assuming that the menarche has occurred after a first ovulation, though this is not usual, a girl may even become pregnant a month in advance of the menarche.

Water Weight

The days just prior to menstruation may be accompanied by moodiness or a sense of tension. A woman may feel heavier or even bloated. This is due to water weight that comes off when menstruation arrives. 

Many women will experience cramps in their abdominal area and in the lower back. There may also be some leg pain with these symptoms. This may last a few hours or more. A woman's breasts may feel tender to the touch and sometimes you will find spots of acne on your face at this time.

At the start of your period, you may find just a bit of blood on the crotch of your panties, or maybe you'll see some blood on the toilet paper when wiping yourself after urinating. The flow of vaginal blood starts out light, becomes heavier, stays at that rate for a few days, and then begins to taper off.

The menarche is different. The blood of the menarche starts out a brown color and then turns red. A menstrual period tends to last from 3-7 days each month.

A young girl often trusts her mother to advise her on how to use feminine hygiene products like tampons and pads. The tampon's shape mimics the vaginal canal and is useful during exercise and swimming. A pad comes with adhesive backing so you can stick it to the crotch of your underpants. Tampons and pads must be changed with regularity for best health and hygiene.

Can't Tell

A girl can do anything she wants during her period. No one can tell by looking at a girl that she has her period.

If you get cramps, there are things you can do to relieve the pain. You can try exercise, warm baths, heating pads, naproxen, or ibuprofen. If none of these measures give you relief, make an appointment to speak to your physician so you can try a prescription pain medication.