Whether you’re the kind of person who faints at a papercut or can watch gory hospital shows without nightmares, the monthly drama in your pants can be daunting. For one thing, it can look (and feel) like SO. MUCH. BLOOD.

But it isn’t. Honestly, it isn’t.

The average person will pass between two and eight tablespoons of menstrual fluid during their whole period. So even at their heaviest, that’s still less than half of a small Starbucks cup size – and it could be as little as a squirt of syrup. But let’s not ruin syrup by thinking about that too much.

Will it always be like this?

Just like your favourite hot chocolate order, the heaviness of your period can vary from person to person. The bottom line is: we’re all different, and you’ll find out what’s normal for your body.

It’s common for bleeding to be heavier during the first day or two, then calm down and lighten up towards the end of your period (so better use it as an excuse to claim that last cookie now).

TL;DR? Here's the important stuff:
  • On average, you’ll only produce between two and eight tablespoons of menstrual fluid during your whole entire period (it just feels like loads more).
  • It’s common for your period to start heavier and get lighter – both through the week, and as you get older. But everybody is different.
  • If your period is so heavy that it’s making life difficult, have a chat to your GP.

Your first period will often be light, more like a sticky stain or a few reddish-brown spots (more delightful details here), but many people find their periods are heavier in the first few years, while things are settling down. Stress, diet, medication, health conditions and loads of other things can affect the amount you bleed from month to month, and also over the course of your adult life – so don’t panic if you go from a trickle to a stream to a river.

Um, it feels like a waterfall.

Still don’t panic! Remember, it’s so much less than it looks. Periods are tricksters like that.

But if you find you’re bleeding so much that you have to change your pad or tampon every hour, use both a tampon and pad at once, or get up in the middle of the night to change your pad or tampon, it’s known as ‘flooding’ – and it’s not much fun.

So don’t be a hero, tell someone! If heavy periods are making life difficult, your GP should be able to help.

And if anyone tells you to ‘just go with the flow’, you have permission to throw a cushion at them.

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: Katie Edmunds

Pads are great. They’re comfy and easy to use and they even make great post-it notes if you’re desperate. But sometimes they slip to the back, or try and make a great escape down the side of your knickers. There have been a few instances when they’ve decide to go completely AWOL (like when Mexican singer Patricia Navidad was performing on a Mexican TV morning show and her pad exited her pants stage left).

Which begs the question: will your tampon ever get all commitment-phobic on you and decide to run off without so much as a ‘thanks for having me’..?

WELL, WILL IT?

Nope! The good news is tampons love commitment. If anything, they’re a bit needy.

Those babies won’t budge until they’re good and ready, unless you’re willing to wrestle them out of there.

So they’ll never leave me?

Your tampon is held in place by the walls of your vagina, so if you’ve inserted it correctly (i.e. pushed it all the way up) you can rest easy knowing it will never slip out as a surprise. If it ever feels too heavy or as though it might slip out, that probably means it’s time to change it for a fresh one.

However, if you’re on the loo doing a strenuous number two, you might notice that your tampon wiggles down a bit, or in some cases, joins the party that’s going on in the bowl. While it can be a bit of a shock, this is completely normal, so don’t panic.

If you’re not normally a flusher, we recommend making an exception in this case.

Ew. Is that all?

That’s all. So get up on stage and strut your stuff. Your period should never stop you from being your kickass self.

Image: Clueless

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. 

Let’s go back to basics! What actually is a period? Here are some answers you will probably get from your over-sharing aunt and your weird school nurse:

“It’s when you become a woman.” Bleurgh.

“It’s a miracle.” Oh please.

“It’s your body’s way of showing it’s ready for a baby.”

WHAT?! Doesn’t my brain get a say? I CAN’T EVEN REMEMBER WHERE I PUT MY MATHS HOMEWORK.

Breathe. Here’s the actual science.

Period blood isn’t like the blood that comes out of your body when you cut your elbow making an awesome save in football, or graze your knee tripping over a doormat. We call it ‘blood’ because frankly that’s less hassle than referring to it as ‘menstrual fluid and womb lining’, but that would be a bit more accurate.

Over the course of your menstrual cycle, progesterone causes the lining of your uterus to grow thicker with extra blood and tissue, making it extra cosy and snug in case a fertilised egg shows up and wants to become a baby.

TLDR? Here’s the important stuff:
  • Over the course of your menstrual cycle, progesterone makes the lining of your uterus grow thicker with extra blood and tissue, in case a pregnancy occurs.
  • If it doesn’t, as your hormone levels fall, the extra blood and tissue fall away and leave your body as your period. Wooo.
  • Just because your body is technically ready to have a baby, it doesn’t mean you have to be ‘a woman’ anytime soon.

If that hasn’t happened by about the 21st day of your menstrual cycle, your hormones will decide it’s time for their monthly clean-out. Then the lining of your womb comes away and leaves your body through your vagina. The bits of tissue can make things look less like tomato ketchup and more like chutney, if you get our drift….

Part of getting your period is your body showing that it’s able to have a baby. So if you are going to have sex and don’t want a tiny screaming person to take care of nine months later, you need to make sure you always use protection (condoms are also pretty crucial for preventing the spread of gross diseases).

But obviously, just because your body is ready, it doesn’t mean the rest of you is anywhere near. After all, you’ve still got your maths homework to find.

Moral of the story?

Don’t let your over-sharing aunt and your weird school nurse freak you out. But if you’re confused it’s a good idea to talk to an adult you trust, even if it’s just to ask about what products they use.

Also, we give you full permission to roll your eyes at anyone who says your period is a miracle. I mean, it kind of is – but there’s no need to get sappy about it.

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: Kate Forster

PMS stands for Premenstrual Syndrome.

It’s also sometimes known as Premenstrual Tension (PMT), the monthly blues, or The Bit Before Your Period Starts When You Feel Like You Want to Hide Under Your Duvet with Three Packets of Oreos and Shout at Everyone. But that’s less catchy.

Give it to me straight

People experience PMS in different ways, and 25% of women don’t experience PMS at all. With any luck you’ll be one of those people – but if you’re not, here is the rollcall of things that you might find you experience for a day or two before your period.

Physically, PMS might make you feel a little bloated, tired or achey. Some people have headaches or backache, some get a few cramps before their period actually arrives. Others notice they’re more clumsy (mind that lamp!). You might find your skin gets a little spotty, or your fringe does that annoying flicky thing you hate.

TLDR? Here’s the important stuff:
  • PMS stands for premenstrual syndrome, and it generally affects three in four women. That’s lots of us. Hiya.
  • Emotionally, it might make you more irritable, anxious or weepy. Physically, PMS might cause bloating, acne, headaches, backache or sore breasts – but hopefully not all at once.
  • Exercise and a healthy diet can both help decrease PMS symptoms. But if you’re really struggling, a chat to your GP might give you more options.

Emotionally, you might find yourself feeling a little… fragile. This could mean that you’re more irritable, anxious, weepy and/or prone to slamming doors. One minute you might be on top of the world, the next you could feel like the world is getting on top of you. Or it might just be a general feeling that everything is a little… blarrgh.

A bit… arrghh.

Basically, all the fun stuff. But you probably won’t have all these symptoms; most people just experience a few.

Who can I blame?

Don’t shout, but nobody knows exactly what causes PMS. It’s thought to be something to do with the changing levels of hormones in your menstrual cycle, which can throw everything… off. A little.  

The most important thing to know is that you’re not just being a drama queen – PMS is very real, and you’re definitely not alone.

PMS Treatment: How do I make it go away?

While there’s not much you can do to prevent PMS, there are lots of ways you can help yourself feel better.

Eating a balanced, varied diet with lots of fresh fruit and veg could help ease those symptoms. PMS might make you feel like face-planting a bucket of KFC, but too much salt or fatty, processed foods can actually make things worse (don’t get us started on the unfairness).

And while it might be the last thing you feel like doing, regular exercise can also help keep PMS in check, as well as generally making you feel more like a queen. That could be a run, a fierce game of hockey, a nice long walk with a favourite playlist or just punching a pillow quite hard.   

As time goes on you’ll find your own, personal ways to beat the premenstrual blues – but some of our favourites are: weeping along to a sad film, having a one-woman dance party, learning to cartwheel, giving yourself a craft project or watching videos of unlikely animal friendships. For more inspiration, visit Weepy Girls’ Corner.

NOTHING. IS. WORKING.

Be kind to yourself, and remember that some people suffer more than others – and it won’t last forever. But if PMS is still having a big impact on your life, it might be a good idea to head to your GP for about what will work best for you.

There’s only so much those poor pillows can take.

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: Hailey Hamilton

Whether you’ve been dreading it or totally desperate for it to arrive, your first period can feel like a leap into the great unknown.

Will it arrive drip by drip, or all at once in a river? Will I look different? WILL EVERYONE KNOW?

Unfortunately there’s no period crystal ball to tell you exactly when it will happen, or where you’ll be when it does (please not assembly). And like your first day of school or your first ever burrito, everyone’s first period will be memorable in a different way.

But here are some things you can expect.

Will I feel it?

Probably not. You might feel some wetness or stickiness in your pants, or maybe some slight cramps in your tummy – but there is no specific ‘bleeding feeling’ that announces your period is in town. Chances are you won’t notice at all until you next go to the loo.

What colour will it be?

This will be different for everyone too – but we can promise you this much: it won’t be blue.

Nobody really knows why olden days sanitary towel companies decided that bright blue liquid would be less scary than the real deal, but you can live safe in the knowledge that your monthly visitor won’t be a raspberry Slush Puppy.

More surprisingly, period blood doesn’t often look like the bright red blood you see when you fall over and cut your knee either. For some that first appearance will be a pink-ish colour, while many people’s first period is often closer to brown than red – which can come as a bit of a surprise. Fact: you will not be the first person to wonder if they pooed themselves without noticing.

Seriously.

Whatever the shade, don’t panic. Your reproductive system is just getting into the swing of things, and the colour will often become more red over time. But it will never, ever be blue.

How much blood will there be?

The amount will be different for everyone too. It could be a sticky discharge that only lasts a day or two, or ‘spotting’, which means bleeding lightly on and off for a few days. And some people’s first period might be quite heavy – but don’t panic, that doesn’t mean it will be heavy forever.

Your first few periods might be feel like a whole variety pack of changes, but things should settle down into a more predictable routine.

TL;DR? Here's the important stuff:
  • At least at the beginning, period blood will probably be more brown than red – but everyone is different.
  • Some people will have a sticky discharge the first time, others will have light, on-off bleeding and some might bleed quite a lot.
  • Your first period can last from anywhere between one and 10 days, and might not arrive again for a while.
  • You can celebrate however you like (we recommend a dance party).

How long will it last?

Your first period can last from anywhere between one and 10 days, and it’s also pretty common to have your first period and then not bleed again for a few months. Helpful, we know.

For the first year or so your periods might be a bit all over the place while your body finds its natural rhythm, but things should settle down into a fairly predictable pattern.

Will everyone know?

Nope.

Promise?

Honestly. You might feel like you’re walking around with a neon flashing ‘PERIOD! PERIOD!’ arrow above your head, but the truth is you look exactly the same as you did the day before. Nobody will know unless you choose to tell them. Or send out party invites.

But if you’re ready, it is a good idea to talk to an adult you trust. They can help you to get all the supplies you need – whether it’s pads, tampons, cuddles or a really big burrito.

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: Emma Block

Hold on, is this a trick question? Periods are blood, right? And blood is red. So periods = red. Simple.

Mm, not quite.

The thing is, technically your ‘period blood’ is not just blood. It’s a unique pick ‘n’ mix of blood and tissue that has built up in your uterus over the course of your menstrual cycle.

And depending on how heavy your period is, it might come in all sorts of different shades, from dark brown to the palest hint of red. In fact there are probably more period colours than there are Instagram filters – and hey, not every day will be Mayfair.

But don’t worry; whatever the hue, it doesn’t mean ew. Let’s take a look at the period rainbow.  

Dark-brown-OMG-almost-black

Pantone Dark Brown

A lot of people find that on the first day or two that the uterus unicorn comes to visit, it’s less red and more… maroon. Or dark brown. Or-OMG-almost-black. This is totally natural, don’t panic. It’s just older blood.

This could be because the first day or two of your period is relatively light, and the blood is taking a bit longer to leave your body, which gives it a brownish hue. Or alternatively, it could be leftover blood from your last period that your body is getting rid of now.

Some people shed their lining more quickly and leave a completely clean uterus behind, while other people might have slower periods that are lighter in flow, but a little darker in colour. Either way, it’s totally fine.

Fire engine red

Pantone Red

Just when you were getting used to the dark-brown-OMG-almost-black, your period might switch things up and become bright, fire engine red. This is just your new uterine lining saying, “oh hey there”.

If you have a heavy period, it’s more likely that you’ll have bright red blood as your uterus lining is evacuating your body more quickly. Although still not as fast as you trying to undo that accidental ‘like’ of your crush’s Instagram from 72 weeks ago.

TL;DR? Here’s the important stuff:
  • It’s totally natural for your period to be different colours, from dark brown to bright, fire engine red. Darker blood tends to be older blood, which could be left over from your last cycle, or is just leaving your body more slowly.
  • Most people will find that their blood darkens again towards the end of their periods. This is just because the blood flow has slowed down.
  • Grey discharge could mean an infection, so it’s probably a good idea to call you GP.

Strawberry jam red

Strawberry

Those who have longer periods will probably be familiar with this deep, pinky-red colour. Basically, it just means you shed your lining at a consistently slower rate, so your period might never quite get to the fire-engine red stage.

Many people will also find that their blood darkens again towards the end of their periods. This is just because the blood flow has slowed down.

Grey?!

Grey Pantone

Willow is one filter your shouldn’t be seeing in your knickers – so if you find that you have grey clumps or grey discharge, it’s probably a good idea to head to your GP and have it checked out.

Somewhere, over the rainbow…

Your blood will rarely be one colour for the whole of your period – or even for the whole of the day. That change is totally natural, we promise. It’s just your body, doing its thing.

And when it comes to Instagram, Valencia is always a safe bet.

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: Pantone/Katie Edmunds

Periods, discharge, pipes and parts… there’s a lot going on down there. But how much do you really know? Are you a vagenius, or just a bit of a twat?

Let’s find out!

What colour should your period be?

How does an egg get from an ovary to your uterus?

How are your eggs stored?

How many holes are there down there?

How much blood do you lose during an average period?

What does discharge do?

What's a labia?

What actually *is* a period?

How many periods does an average woman have in a lifetime?

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. 

Ok, everyone knows your period is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s a perfectly natural – if sometimes irritating – part of life.

However, as natural and wonderful and empowering as your period might be, very few of us want to bellow “HIYA I’M MENSTRUATING” at our friends when we’re walking down the road. So in case you find them useful, we asked 38 women for their favourite period euphemisms. You are welcome.

1. Aunt Flo

2. Surfing the crimson wave

3. Ladies’ week

4. Mr P

5. Nature’s mess

6. Menzies

7. Josie’s visiting – ”My Mum always said Josie’s visiting. Then it became just Josie. Never managed to make friends with any women called Josie – too many associations”

8. On the blob

9. Shark week

10. The moon sickness

11.Me and my friends have long referred to it as our ‘pez’. ‘Can’t go swimming today I’m on my pez’ or sometimes ‘pezza’, or ‘the ol’ pezza’.”

12. A Leona situation (ie. bleeding love)

13. Happy-fun-lady-time!

14. “I liked it when Tina Fey referred to it as ‘Aunt Blood'”

15. Having the painters in

16. Falling to the communists

17. Pez dispenser

18. “At my school girls say they’re ‘flying’. Because of the wraparound wings.”

19. Molly has come to visit

20. “My four-year-old sister calls it ‘nappy week'”

21. Rag week

22. Code red

23. Arsenal are playing at home

24. “My boyfriend and I refer to it as ‘my curse’ as a tongue-in-cheek reference to what men called it in the olden days”

25. The Red Sea is flowing

26. “My boyfriend calls it ‘Hanna time’”

27. Lunar flow

28. Ordering ‘l’omelette rouge’

29. Aunt Irma’s in town

30. Bloody Mary

31. Flowers

32. Dracula’s teabag

33. Lucifer’s waterfall

34. Reboot

35. Having your fairies

36. Hiding from Joffrey

37. Bernard

And my absolute, absolute favourite.

38. My Dolmio Day.

Mmm.

@orbyn

Image: Hailey Hamilton

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. 

Period pain can be horrible, we all know that. But sometimes it goes beyond the constant, dull, throbbing ache or sudden shooting pain that can be relieved with a hot water bottle, some painkillers and a lot of chocolate.

Endometriosis is, basically, a condition where your period pain is really, really bad – so bad it affects your everyday life, even when you’re not on your period. It’s a super-complicated condition (even experts don’t fully know all about it) but it’s surprisingly common, with one in 10 women in the UK suffering from it.

Despite how unfortunately common it is, it’s really hard to get diagnosed with endometriosis. The average time it can take to get diagnosed is 7.5 years. We know, that sounds awful and quite scary. BUT that’s why we’re here! Let’s all get swotted up on endometriosis, so if you or someone you know finds themselves in this situation, you can get tested and diagnosed faster.

So how do I know if I have endometriosis?

Symptoms of endometriosis vary, but they can include: really painful, heavy, or irregular periods that can’t be eased; irritation or pain when going for a wee or poo; being tired all the time; pain in your pelvis, or pelvic area; and back or leg pain.

Some people with endometriosis may have all of these symptoms, and some may have just one or two. Some might have completely different symptoms altogether. But the main thing to look out for is really painful and irregular periods.

How do you get it in the first place?

Here’s where it all gets really sciencey and complicated. Ready?

Endometriosis is caused by cells outside of your uterus behaving like ones inside your uterus. Copycats, right? When you’re on your period, these cells kick in too and bleed, just like your uterus. But because there’s nowhere for this blood to go, it becomes scar tissue which can cause the really bad pain.

Why do these cells do this? Nobody knows. There are some fancy theories but the bottom line is: there is no definite cause. It just happens. C’est la vie. All you can do is focus on getting yourself treated, and not worry about why it’s happened to you rather than perfect Megan from up the road. 

Is it treatable?

Yes. Endometriosis is treatable, but sadly not (yet) curable. Hopefully that will come when the experts figure out how and why these dastardly cells start to behave in their periody ways.

TLDR? Here’s the important stuff:
  • Endometriosis is when cells outside of your uterus act like the ones inside your uterus, causing a lot of pain and discomfort. It affects 1 in 10 women in the UK.
  • If you have super painful, heavy, or irregular periods, get yourself to your GP for testing. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about – they deal with this, and worse, all the time.
  • There are multiple treatments and you CAN find the right one for you. It might take time, but you’ll get there.
  • Periods suck. Sometimes.

There are a few treatments available depending on your age and the types of symptoms you have.

Pain relief

Hopefully your GP can help you find the right balance of pain relief methods. There might be certain painkillers that work for you, as well as physiotherapy and heat comfort (hot water bottles or a hot bath). There are also pain clinics in some hospitals that support those with chronic pain, and your GP may be able to refer you.

Hormone treatment

The dodgy cells with endometriosis respond to oestrogen, the female hormone, so you may be able to try some hormone treatments in an attempt to reduce or block your body’s production of oestrogen.

Surgery

This is obviously a more extreme option. You may be able to have surgery to remove any of the scar tissue that endometriosis has caused.

I think I might have it. What can I do?

Don’t panic. Endometriosis can sound scary, painful, and complicated, but it’s a common condition and is treatable. If you think you may have it, speak to an adult you trust – whether that’s your mum, dad, auntie, teacher, friend’s parent, school nurse or other helpful adult. They should not only be good at sorting the practical stuff, but they’re great for emotional support too. (You could be in for extra chocolate, if you’re lucky.)

Next, you’ll need a GP appointment. You can talk through your symptoms, and all the wonderful knowledge you have of endometriosis thanks to this article, and hopefully kickstart some testing.

Remember, there’s nothing to be scared or embarrassed about when speaking to someone about your body problems. We all have bodies and they all do crazy things. You definitely don’t have to suffer with your problematic period and unruly uterus alone.

@louisejonesetc 

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. 

Despite using calendars and tracking apps, I’m not always absolutely sure when my menses is on the way. Sometimes it takes me by surprise. I’ll be out minding my own business and suddenly be aware of a… dampening.

You know, the curious, sticky sensation that makes you worry that not only has your period turned up by surprise, but it’s also making the sort of entrance that RuPaul might deem too flamboyant for Drag Race.

When that happens, here’s what’s going through my mind. And your mind. Probably.

1. Gosh, my bum feels sweaty! Maybe it’s these tights…

2. Or…

3. Oh no, oh no, oh no!

4. There must be PINTS of blood down there already. Enough to fill a milk bottle! Or a Coke bottle! How can I sneak out and deal with this?

5. Just going to check on the App store to see if there’s anything in teleportation.

6. They have an app that tells you, TO THE SECOND, when it’s going to stop raining, but not one that will magic me from my chair to the toilet. MODERN TECHNOLOGY IS POINTLESS.

7. When I get up, the force of the blood is going to lift me straight to the ceiling. Like I’m sitting on a bust fire hydrant. As if I’m starring in a remake of Do The Right Thing meets Carrie.

8. I’m wearing white pants. Why would I ever wear white pants? Why do I even own white pants?

9. I bet it’s all over my jeans.

10. I bet it’s over the chair.

11. How can I get period blood off a chair without anyone noticing? Will I have to break into the building at night with a tub of Vanish, and tights over my head?

12. I wonder if I can slide my hand under my bum and check how bad the damage is.

13. It’s got through! It’s happened! It’s… oh, it’s a bit of pink felt tip.

14. Maybe I could drop to my knees and silently roll across the floor, like an unseen ninja, and the force of my propelling body would stop the blood from gushing everywhere.

15. Or I’ll get stuck with my rear end in the air and give everyone a prolonged view of my blood-soaked crotch.

16. Can I slowly, slowly edge to the side of the room, and then scuttle out sideways like a crab? I think I can.

17. I don’t have any tampons on me. Or change for the machine. I could message someone when I’m there… but my phone has 8 per cent battery.

18. I guess I’ll just have to live in the toilet.

19. Right, up and clench, and clench. Channel the crab, the menstrual icon of the sea. You’re on a mission to the other side of the seabed, defending your pearls…. ah, no, that might be oysters.

20. This must be good for my bum, all the clenching. Maybe I’ll patent this technique as an exercise movement. I could be Instagram famous! The Period Power Workout!

21. Phew. Safe in the toilet. Now to face the mess, clean up, and… oh.

Just a sweaty bum after all, then.

Kermit the Frog screaming gif

@NotRollergirl

Image: Kate Forster

A while before I started my period for the very first time, my best friend, Amy*, came round. We were 12 and spent the evening on my bed messing around on my laptop (creating Piczo websites, trawling YouTube, and being stupid on Omegle, probably).

We were there for hours until my mum knocked on my bedroom door to say that Amy’s mum was here to pick her up. So we got up. Well, I did. Amy kind of shuffled a bit and looked at me, her eyes boring into my skull like she was attempting telepathy.

“You alright?” I asked.

“Um…” she started, going redder by the second. “I spilt something on the sheets.”

“Oh, don’t worry about that!” I said with a wave of my hand. “Mum will just wash them.”

I was a very obnoxious and assuming child, back then.

Amy reluctantly moved to reveal what she’d spilt. EVERY DROP OF BLOOD IN HER BODY, I thought. For on the sheets was a very large splodge of red. Bright red. Glistening. Glowing. Like it was its own being.

That’s what my mind saw, anyway. I’d never seen anything like it.

“I’m so sorry,” Amy said, lip quivering. “I only started this week and I was embarrassed to tell you and change my pad.”

“It’s ok! Oh God! It’s so ok! Don’t worry! It’s fine! We’ll sort it!!!” I said, rather desperately.

PERIOD, I thought. OF COURSE IT’S HER PERIOD. And then, OH GOD IS THAT WHAT IT’S LIKE OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD.

It WAS fine, obviously. Our mums laughed and soothed Amy, who did have a panicky cry, and the blood came out in one wash.

When I started my period at 13, Amy’s Accident was all I could think about. But by the time I hit 22, last year, I thought I was pretty chilled with the whole period thing. Blood in my knickers? They’ll wash! Blood on my sheets? Whatever. Blood on my hands when I wipe too casually? Pfft.

Blood on my boyfriend’s parents’ spare bed sheets?

Oh.

Oh, GOD.

“WHAT?!” My boyfriend said as he woke with a start at my frantic, loud whispering.

“I’ve got blood on the sheets. LOOK, I’VE GOT MY BLOODY BLOOD ON THE SHEETS,” I said, gesturing wildly to the deep red blood smack bang in the middle of the pristine white sheets.

“It’s ok! Oh God! It’s so ok! Don’t worry! It’s fine! We’ll sort it!!!”

I’d heard that before.

I was so embarrassed, and I hardly EVER get embarrassed. I work for a charity where we talk about weird, embarrassing body stuff every day. This was my jam. The splodge on the sheets was also my jam.

Was it because I was 22 and should be able to stop this? I felt like I’d wet myself. Was it because I was at MY BOYFRIEND’S PARENTS’ HOUSE? Probably, yes. That too.

My boyfriend stripped the sheets and ran downstairs with them straight away to wash, along with my knickers and pyjama bottoms. But the blood had gone through to the mattress. Nightmare. We had no choice but to have a ‘quiet word’ with his mum. I say ‘we’ but I was hiding in the bathroom.

By the time I came out and tiptoed back into the spare room, my boyfriend was sitting there very smugly, an old rag in one hand and the other pointing at the now clean mattress.

“See! Dabbed it with cold water! All gone! Sorted!” He said, opening his arms for a comforting hug. He passed me his pyjama bottoms to wear and we went downstairs after remaking the bed with clean sheets. Nothing more was said. His mum was pokerfaced. Nothing and no one gave the game away.

Well, apart from the fact I was now wearing my boyfriend’s pyjama bottoms and was clutching a hot water bottle to my screaming stomach…

Look, what I’m saying is that your period can always be a pain in the bum, no matter how old you are, where you are, what you’re doing, and how good your relationship is with it. You can be the best of friends and then BAM, it screws you over.

But you can cope with it, and so will everyone else. Embarrassing tales will turn into funny ones and you’ll soon realise that everything is natural and normal. Embrace your splodges. This is your jam.

*Name has been changed

@louisejonesetc

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. 

Next Tuesday!

Just kidding. If only things were that simple.

The truth is, your first period can be a bit like a surprise party. There are clues that something is going on… a few of your friends seem to know something you don’t… maybe your mum is being coy, you have a feeling deep in your stomach that you can’t identify, or you want to stuff your face with cake.

And there are times when you are 100% sure it’s about to happen… only to find no one is actually hiding behind the sofa at all.

Argh.

So if not next Tuesday, when?

The average age for your first period is between 11 and 13 – though some people get their period as young as eight, others will be more like 16. And either way, it’s all totally fine. It just depends on your body and how quickly it develops.

If you find you’re early to the party, don’t worry, it just gives you extra time to get the hang of things. And if you’re running a little behind, that’s not a big deal either. You’ve heard the term ‘fashionably late’, right?

So it’s not a race – it’s a waiting game?

Well, yes. But not everyone likes surprises, and helpfully there are signs to look out for that your period is on its way (no, not a text).

Usually your breasts will begin growing first. Those little bumps that might have formed under your nipples are breast buds, and periods generally show up around two years after those bad boys arrive on the scene

TL;DR? Here’s the important stuff:
  • The average age for your first period is between 11 and 13, but it could be as young as eight or as late as 16.
  • Clues that your period might be on its way include breasts growing, discharge in your pants and body hair – but everyone is different.
  • Starting a little later is no big drama, but you can chat to your GP if you are worried.

And about a year after your boobs begin to grow, you might find that you start producing discharge. This is your body’s way of letting you know that things in your uterus are kicking into gear, and most people find that their periods arrive between six months to a year after this.

During this time you might also notice armpit hair and pubic hair making an appearance – another little clue that periods are incoming. But remember, everybody’s body is different. Did we mention that already?

Is there anyone that can tell me?

You can try a psychic if that’s your thing… but it’s probably easier to talk to your mum (or sister or auntie) about when they got their period, if you can. It’s pretty likely you’ll get your period around the same time she got hers.

And apart from that…

Just try to be patient. If you get to 16 and you haven’t had your first period yet, it might be a good idea to chat to your GP about what might be holding things up. But whether you get your first period at eight or 18, it’s nothing to freak out about.

And like any other surprise party, we say there should probably be cake.

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.