Starting your period is never going to be a beautiful explosion of unicorns, sparkles and rainbows, but at least if it happens at home then you’ve probably got a stash of stuff that can help you out.
But what happens if you’re lucky enough to be blessed with the magical moment on (shock horror gasp agh) an actual school day.
The thought of legging it through the corridors with your thighs squeezed together, or sitting in the middle of a maths exam with no chance of escape, is basically the stuff of nightmares.
But there are actually a handful of things you can do to make sure that starting your period at school is no sweat. Here’s everything you need to know about preparing for a period at school because, let’s be honest, you’ve got enough to worry about when you’re there.
1. Watch out for the tell-tale signs
Most girls start their period when they’re about 12 years old, but it can come as early as 8 or as late as 16 (basically any age really, which is helpful). That means there’s a pretty good chance that it’ll arrive for the first time while you’re at school. We would do the maths to prove it, but err… no thanks.
Signs that you might have your first period on the way include other signs of puberty, like growing underarm hair or pubic hair. Usually, you’ll start getting your monthly present about two years after your boobs start to grow, and about a year after you start to get a white vaginal discharge. Spot any of those making an appearance and it might be worth popping a pad in your bag.
2. Talk to someone about it
The best way that you can prepare for it is to fully understand both your period and your body. That way you won’t be caught out by any unexpected surprises. They might be kind of annoying, but mums are also a fountain of knowledge when it comes to this type of stuff, so talk to them.
It’s not as embarrassing as you might think – the majority of women have a period, it’s literally how the human race works. Try to talk to your mum, aunties, grandmas, older sisters or your school nurse about any questions you have. It’ll put your mind at ease and help it to seem a whole lot less scary.
3. Always keep a backup in your bag
If you’re going to do one thing to give your period a big, warm welcome, then do this one. It’s always a good idea to start carrying sanitary pads or tampons around with you in advance to make sure you’re not caught out.
Not only will it mean that you’re ready to save your favourite knickers from inevitable disaster when a period does arrive in town, but it also means that you can potentially save your bestie if she gets into a sticky situation, too. Friendship goals.
4. And in case of emergency
Maybe the most extra but genius top tip of all? Keep an extra pair of underwear at the bottom of your school bag. It might sound OTT but whether it’s your first unexpected period, or another one later down the line that sneaked up on you, some spare knickers and tights can be a LIFESAVER.
If you’re caught off guard and have the chance to quickly whip off your now-very-ruined pants for some new ones, you’ll have nothing to worry about and still feel fresh and clean. Just shove them into a pocket in your bag, or hide them in a sock and no one will ever know they’re there.
5. Stash them in a few places
Keeping an emergency pad or a tampon at the bottom of your bag is all very well and good – but what happens if you start your period while your bag is in your locker, and you’re in the middle of P.E. on the other side of school?
You can never be over-prepared, so why not distribute a few more backups in other handy places? You could keep one in your main school bag, your P.E. kit, your pencil case, your locker and one in your blazer pocket.
6. Remember there’s always someone who can help
Forgotten to shove a tampon in your pencil case? Sitting through English with the feeling that um, it’s definitely happened? Please don’t worry or panic about being caught short – there are tons of people in school who’ll be able to help you out.
First of all, ask your closest friends if they’ve got a spare pad that you can steal. If they’re not able to save the day (or you don’t feel comfortable talking to them about it), a female teacher or your school nurse will always be on hand to get it sorted. You might feel a bit awkward or shy about asking, but just say: “I started my period today and I don’t have my supplies.” They’ll know exactly what to do.
7. Create a period first aid kit
We all have that one friend who’s always RIDICULOUSLY over-organised, and if that friend is you then this will definitely be a period preparation dream to you. To make sure that you’re always ready for the crimson wave, pack a mini period first aid kit in a spare pencil case or makeup bag.
How about you basically just empty the contents of your bettybox – tampons, pads, makeup for your period spots, chocolate to ease PMS – into the super cute pouch and sit back in awe of your handy work.
8. Make a note of your dates
Your first period probably won’t last very long as it can take your body a little while to get into a regular pattern. As a general rule, once they’ve settled into a normal cycle, you’ll have a period every 28 to 30 days and will last between 3 to 7 days.
It makes sense to start making a note of the dates that your period arrives, as it’ll help you to figure out when you can expect the next one. If you don’t want to write ‘PERIOD PARTY DAY’ in big capital letters in your school planner, a little sticker or emoji could be a good shout.
9. Don’t worry about it
Whether you’re the first in the squad or the last to get your period, it’s absolutely something you shouldn’t ever be embarrassed or worried about. You’re literally one of thousands of girls who will have had a period at your school.
It’s just a natural part of growing up, you’re surrounded by people who’ll be able to help you out if you need it, and now you’re clued up on a few easy ways to prepare in advance! You’ve only got another fifty years of period to get through anyway. YAY.
It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome.
Image: Amber Griffin