I was nine when I started my first period. Nine.

I was so young I was still making up dance routines in the playground and absent-mindedly picking my nose in public, but then one day the puberty gods decided I would be plucked from my innocent childhood and made to menstruate.

It was a weekend. I was sat on the upstairs loo while my mum hung out washing on the landing. I wiped after doing my business and there it was on the tissue: blood.

It wasn’t bright red like the normal blood I’d seen when I’d fallen over and grazed my knees. This was darker and definitely not wee, so it had to be my period. I pulled up my knickers, flushed the chain and walked out of the bathroom. “Mum, I think I’ve started my period,” I announced.

My mum did what any normal mum would do when a nine-year-old announces she’s bleeding from her vagina: she freaked out. Dropping the bed sheet she was folding, she hopped from one foot to another, spluttering, “OK… um… right… OK… um”. I shrugged, walked past coolly and reassured: “It’s alright, mum. I know what to do.”

I was too young to have had sex education at school, but luckily my mum had been spotting signs that my period was on the hormonal horizon. While she may have been useless on the day (bless her), she’d been super organised beforehand and prepared me for aunt Flo’s imminent arrival.

She later told me she’d noticed a white discharge appearing in my knickers when she did the washing, which is a sure sign your first period is about to start. (BTW: regular discharge is totally normal and part of a woman’s monthly cycle. It’s not gross and is nothing to be ashamed of. Find out more about it here.)

So when my period came, my mum had already given me “the talk”. She had put sanitary towels in my knicker drawer and performed an extremely detailed demonstration of how to stick a white-winged sanitary pad into the gusset of my age 9-10 knickers.

By the time I went back to school on Monday, I was a period pro. I skipped into the school playground with a packet of Always tucked away inside my backpack and that was that. The world kept turning and nothing really changed.

After a phone call from my mum, the school made a few changes to accommodate the “more mature” girls in my class (which is code for “those with boobs”). We got changed in the toilets for PE instead of the classroom, we could go to the loo in the middle of a lesson and we knew where the secret stash of sanitary products were.

People feel sorry for me for having “grown up so fast”, but in reality I was remarkably unfazed by the arrival of aunt Flo.

Puberty is a slow and steady experience for girls, unlike boys who seem to sprout overnight and get reaaaaally deeeeeep vooooooices all of a sudden. So I was used to “growing up”. I had boobs – not budding nipples but actual breasts that needed a bra – and had discovered my first pubes a year before.

Maybe I was too young to feel that shame and embarrassment that a lot of girls feel when they start their period. I was more interested in cartoons than how I looked, what boys thought of me or what was happening to my body. If anything I’m happy that I started so young, it meant that when my friends started I was a dab hand and could help them out.

Periods aren’t always easy, of course: sometimes you leak blood onto bed sheets or your pants (which is really easy to wash with cold water), the pain can be excruciating (hot water bottles are your friend) and it makes swimming awkward (you can still go, just wear a tampon and change it when you get out – you don’t want a wet string dripping in your undies).

I’d recommend using a period tracker app to log pain, flow and moods, so you know what is normal for your body. That way if you are worried or notice anything unusual speak to an adult you trust. The most powerful thing you can do for your health as a woman is get to know yourself.

But for the most part, you, like the other half of the population who menstruate, will be just fine. And if a nine-year-old can do it, I’m sure you can too.

@Brogan_Driscoll

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. 

Cartwheels, leotards, THE SPLITS – gymnastics might sound like the most terrifying activity you could ever attempt on your period, but for those of us who love it and don’t want our bodies to hold us back (like, evereverever) you can totally still participate in gym. Yep, even if you’re bleeding.

How, you shriek? What if my pad looks massive and slides out of place, how the heck do I even attach it because I can’t use wings, or what if my tampon string hangs out in the middle of a backbend? The period terror is real.

Well don’t fret, back-flipping dreamers. One of team betty actually used to be a fancy pants gymnast and has a few helpful tips for you…

Double up

If you’re a bit of a pro, you’re probably used to whipping off all your underwear before you slip into your leotard – after all, knickers on show underneath your super glitzy competition outfit is not the one. But if you’re on your period, an extra layer between your vagina and your costume could be the difference between a flawless floor routine and one that’s accessorised with blood. Just try high-cut knickers if you’re worried about flashing and go for a pair that’s the same colour as your leotard.

Prep your pants

If you think you might-maybe-possibly-a-tiny-bit be about to come on your period, prep those knickers! Use those high-cut undies to the max and make sure you stick in a panty liner – even if the chances of you coming on are literally 1%. You can’t be too careful, especially if your feet are going behind your head at any point.

Try tampons

Never tried using tampons before? Well, this might be the perfect time to give them a go. Ask your mum to pick some up from the supermarket or pop to the shops after school then block out some bathroom time to perfect your technique. Chances are you probably won’t nail it the first time, the second, probably even the third time, but if you stay super relaxed you might be able to slide it in just fine. All you need to think about come competition time is tucking in your string and smiling!

You do you

No matter how much you want to compete or take part in your fave weekend club, if you’re not feeling up to it just stay at home! There’s absolutely no shame in looking after yourself and giving your body what it needs to get through your time of the month, whether you’re suffering from cramps, headaches or you’re just tired out. Period.

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. 

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

The only thing worse than having a little sister who adores you and constantly copies you, is having a little sister who has recently decided that you’re less cool than a school assembly about litter.

When I was 11, my 10-year-old sister Beth was my one-girl fandom. I’d dread school break times, as she’d rush towards me in the playground and wrap her arms around my waist like a rubber ring – I’d wriggle and struggle, grumbling as she slowed me down and stopped me from finding a dinner lady to complain to. She made up songs, stories and secret worlds, searching out the weirdness in everything, always spotting something magical amongst the small and unseen.

She filled our shared bedroom with ice cream cartons full of snails, which she ‘raced’ across our garden – and she treated her tiny friends with intense tenderness. When I complained about our new roommates and said it was “disgusting” to sleep with snails, she’d say “Shhhh! They can hear you!” She was passionate, she was sincere, and she always wanted to join in.

But I was horrible to her.

I didn’t want her playing with my perfume or reading my magazines, because she was a ‘baby’. I was too busy talking about boys (not to boys, let’s not be crazy) to be bothered about her snails.

Then, as we both headed towards our teens, something shifted. I guess I got what I deserved.

Beth became cooler than me – and suddenly, I became the annoying one. She found new friends. We started listening to different music. While she’d once begged to be involved when I went on about which song was number one, she started bragging about being a fan of alternative bands, and told me that I was pathetic for listening to what was in the charts. She used to say I looked like a princess when I wore a pretty dress. I was “way too girly” and “clearly had no personality or any individuality”.

I would have given anything – the £57 in my Halifax savings account, my best nail polish, the pale pink Topshop aviator jacket I’d spent months saving up for – to get babyish Beth back. I would have taken her to every single party I was invited to, and she could have held onto my waist all night long. But she’d rather wear a dreaded princess party dress in public than be seen with me.

Beth seemed so tough and together that I was stunned when I walked past her room one morning and heard muffled sobs. I thought she said my name. I must have been imagining things. Then she said it again. I gently pushed the door open.

“Don’t tell Mum,” she murmured, and my brain immediately exploded with terrifying thoughts about what might be wrong. “But I’ve started.”

My first reaction was relief that nothing horrible had happened. But when I looked at Beth’s face, I realised that to her, it was horrible. Her body was changing, and it had frightened her.

I’d started my periods over a year ago, and was starting to find the rhythm of my body quite comforting, from the familiar ache in my lower back, a couple of days before I was due, to that feeling of prickly tearfulness that disappeared the moment the period arrived.

“It’s OK.” I held my arms out to her. “At the moment, it feels like nothing in the world will ever be OK again. But this is the worst part, I promise.” She stayed stiff for a second, then hugged me back.

“You really do have to tell Mum, though. She’ll know exactly what to do.”

We weren’t exactly BFFs again – and as we grew up and got older, we became even more different, and even better at antagonising each other.

But from that moment, we were in a conspiracy of two. A slightly awkward tag team who knew exactly how to wind each other up, but who would always share hot water bottles. Even on the occasions when I was barely speaking to Beth, I’d always offer her my last two Nurofen.

Sisters are strange, and even though we’re both grown up, I’ll never stop being thrilled and bewildered by the fact that Beth can be simultaneously so similar and so different from me. When we were on the brink of our teens, those differences seemed like a huge divide. But learning that our bodies worked in the same way, even if our minds didn’t, brought us back together again.

@NotRollergirl

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: 10 Things I Hate About You

You may have heard of TSS, but do you know what the heck we’re really talking about? Sure, there are sooo many acronyms to remember but here’s one that shouldn’t be confused with TB (eww, those jabs), TTC (time travel capsule anyone?), or TGIF (surely this one doesn’t need explaining).

TSS is seriously serious though, so it’s time you learnt everything there is to know. Test your super-knowledge by taking the quiz!

So what does TSS stand for?

TSS is known as a “systemic infection.” In a nutshell, this means it affects…

But what even happens?

A super-absorbent tampon that’s left in for a long time, creates the perfect cosy situ for bacteria growth and TSS. Is this true?

One of these is NOT a typical symptom of TSS. Can you spot it?

You can die from TSS. True or false?

If you think that you have TSS, what should you do?

You should never-ever leave a tampon in for longer than…

How many cases of TSS do you reckon are linked to tampon use?

What can reduce the risk of TSS?

Toxic Shock Syndrome is mega serious, but it’s also rare. Fact or fib?

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. 

FOMO is hard.

It’s one of those things that your parents won’t always get – especially when it comes to things like piercings, parties and that questionable fashion trend that sweeps through your school overnight – but it’s absolutely a valid feeling. I am totally with you.

What makes an intense case of FOMO even worse though, is when it’s related to something that you’re not even entirely sure about.

Hellooooo, periods.

Or should I say: where the hell are you, period? When you’re sat there twiddling your thumbs waiting for your first period and it feels like all of your friends are well on their way to becoming pros in the menstrual cycle business, you can get a bit… impatient.

Ok, so there’s no definitive formula to knowing when you’ll start your period. The truth is, being a bit on the early side or a tad late to the party is no big deal. Like, at all. We promise.

Admittedly though, I found that being the last of my mates to start mine came with a few specific side effects…

Recognise any of these?

You convince yourself that every bad mood is PMS

PMS is one of those things that gets thrown around in conversation quite a lot. A bit too much if you ask me. But it happens. I actually think I had a better understanding of what PMS was before I fully got the whole bleeding-from-your-vagina thing.

So when it got to the point when my closest girl friends had started their journey down the period path and started justifying every mood swing as PMS, I, of course, decided to follow suit. Because hey, sometimes you just want to be able to relate to your mate’s spontaneous outburst of Hulk-like fury over dropping their last square of Dairy Milk.

You embrace the whole ‘watch and learn’ thing

There are positives to being last, you guys. Honest! The biggest one is that you get to witness IRL the things your friends are experiencing and well, learn from them.

Let’s face it, there are lots of things that we’d rather chat to our carefully-selected friends about instead of an actual grown-up human. And as helpful and well intentioned I’m sure the older women in your life are, sometimes you just want to be able to ask whether or not your BFF managed to get her tampon in on the first try – without fear of an awkward conversation and attempted demonstration from Aunty Alison.

You worry you won’t sync with your mates

This is at the core of that severe case of FOMO we were just talking about earlier.

For right or wrong, my biggest and most irrational worry was that at our next sleepover all of my friends’ periods would have suddenly synced and then someone would make a new group chat without me where they’d all talk about top secret period stuff. Crazy, I know.

Don’t worry, the secret group chat never happened. It’s pretty much impossible for periods (or lack of) to come between a group of girls. It’s one of the things that really unites women, actually.

Turns out none of our cycles ever synced, but we still enjoyed adding period woes to our regular lunchtime moaning session.

You end up being a bit over-prepared

You know that old saying about not tempting fate? Well I was pretty much willing Mother Nature to come at me. I thought that if I carried a few tampons and pads around with me, my body would catch on and decide to play along.

It didn’t.

But on the plus side my friends were always super grateful when they were ever caught off-guard and I had supplies at the ready.

You get caught practicing your cramp face

Ok this one might just be me. But in an attempt to get out of cross-country in the torrential rain, I thought I’d pretend to be on my period. A period that I hadn’t started yet. And in preparation, I thought I’d better practice and get this cramp thing down.

So I spent a few minutes of my lunch testing various versions of my ‘cramp face’. Obviously, someone walked into the loos mid-rehearsal, which was mega awkward.

BUT when I explained that I was having really bad period cramps she shrugged and proceeded to make her way over to a cubicle. ‘Score!’ I thought, ‘I must pursue a career in acting straight away!’ 

Unfortunately my performance wasn’t quite convincing enough to get me out of a lengthy jog in the rain. But still, at least that’s one case of FOMO I didn’t have to worry about.

@JazKopotsha

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: New Girl

You’re totally cool with having periods and don’t let them affect your day-to-day, but somehow – no matter how much you trust your tampons and pads – wearing white when it’s that time of the month turns you into a nervous wreck.

Sure, you want to be like the lady in the adverts who rollerblades in her white jeans while on her period with not a leak in sight, but you know you’re not that girl. Or are you? Here are all the self-doubting thoughts you have when you ‘dare’ to wear white on your period.

1. OK, I’m definitely not wearing white today

You’re in full flow, you’re cramping hard and the last thing you need is to be thinking about visible leaks.

2. But those new jeans in my wardrobe are so comfy and cute…

Surely your tampon won’t let you down… will it?

3. I am a strong, confident woman, capable of knowing when she needs to change her tampon

The jeans are going on and you are going to WORK THEM, girl.

4. I’m just gonna go to the bathroom one last time before I leave the house

Yes, you’ve already changed your tampon twice in an hour, but you can never be too careful.

5. OMG, what if I stand up to get off the bus and there’s a puddle of blood?!

You’ll be a laughing stock and probably owe the bus company more than a year’s pocket money to clean their seat.

6. Why do all these shops not have customer bathrooms?!

You’re 100% gonna leak before you can find a loo. STRESSFUL.

7. Maybe I should just buy another outfit and change into it

You already owe your sister a three-figure sum this month, but surely she’ll understand, because PERIODS.

8. Nothing looks good. NOTHING.

The world is so cruel. Why do you even get periods again?

9. I should probably change my tampon again

Which means you’re going to have to go to a restaurant to find a toilet, which means you might as well eat while you’re there… McDonald’s counts as a restaurant, right?

10. I MADE IT!

You’re home, the red sea has not formed in your underwear, and even your cramps have subsided. Maybe you’ll wear white again tomorrow; it’s not so bad, after all.

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

Periods, you’ve gotta love them. They have the ability to make us cry, rant and fall asleep for 12 hours straight…sometimes all in the same day. But hands-up if you feel kinda different when you come on? Like your usual chilled self has gone on her holibobs, leaving you with Little Miss Who-The-Heck-Is-This?

But before you think it’s weird to have a whole new ‘period personality’ for few days a month, we’re telling you, it’s normal. You can blame hormones for the randomness.

Curious to find out what your main mood is when you’ve got your period? Take our test below.

1. When raging hunger strikes, what are you nose-diving into to satisfy your cravings?

2. Soooo, you leaked on your school skirt. Do you…

3. Which of these animals do you identify with most when you’re on your period?

4. What does PMS stand for?

5. You’re on the bus journey home, feelin’ all tired. What’s playing in your headphones?

6. You’ve got your period and it’s just you, the sofa and a mountain of munchies. What do you watch?

7. Your brother/sister/annoying friend asks “Are you on your period or something?” How do you reply?

8. What are your go-to period pants?

9. When was the last time you had a really good cry?

10. Finish this sentence. “Tampons and pads…”

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

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

Cramps. Gnawing dull pain, sharp aches or rolling spasms, they come in all kinds of annoying varieties. An irritating inconvenience for one person is debilitating pain for someone else, with days off school required to spend curled up with a hot water bottle.

Historically, cramps were just something people had to deal with and power through, but this is finally changing. Recently there has been much more open discussion and study around periods and the intense pain they can cause, and the medical world is taking the treatment of cramps more seriously.

As someone who suffers from truly awful period pains (think being unable to move for hours at a time) I wanted to find out more from an expert. I asked Dr. Shirley McQuade, women’s health expert and Medical Director at the Dublin Well Woman Centre a few burning questions.

It feels like thousands of tiny knives stabbing me, but what’s actually happening to my body?

“The womb is made of muscle and when the muscle starts contracting to shed the lining of the womb (a period) women experience cramping. So, period cramping tends to happen for a day or two before bleeding starts and for the first 2 – 3 days of bleeding.”

Life is an unfair lottery, and I wanted to know why some people get exhausting period pains while others get off scot-free. Apparently, it’s all about ‘pain factors’ (things called prostaglandins and leukotrienes). Scientists have found there are higher levels of these substances in people who experience more severe pain around that time of the month.

Wait though, I’m getting cramps at weird times…

If you’ve just gotten your period and are experiencing cramps at other more unusual times in your cycle, don’t worry too much. “For the first year or two after periods start – and sometimes longer – periods are not regular and so cramping can happen at other times with little or no bleeding.”

You can also get cramps in the middle of your cycle – this is down to ovulation. It’s a good idea to keep a pain record to spot patterns, this can help you and your doctor figure out what other reasons there might be for your discomfort. Avoid self-diagnosing online, as this most likely will just cause you unnecessary anxiety (speaking from experience).

So, how do I deal with them?

A lot of people can deal with cramps in a straightforward way. They might just need a regular painkiller like paracetamol for the first day of their period. Others are sadly not as lucky, and Dr McQuade says a visit to the doctor is vital if your cramps are getting in the way of your routine and plans.

“You should see a doctor if the pain is interfering with your life – either regularly missing days from school or not being able to go out with friends. Most women will experience some cramping at period time but it should not stop your normal life. The doctor will ask about your diet and exercise level and what you have tried so far for the pain. Ask about the treatment choices available. Often this kind of period pain gets better as you get older.”

My friends don’t get them, so they don’t understand how bad it is…

People who don’t experience cramps can sometimes be insensitive about how much pain you’re in, but Dr. McQuade emphasises that if you’re cancelling plans regularly because of your pain, you need to talk to a medical professional. The best ways to cope with menstrual pain are regular exercise and a good diet, they can make a massive difference to how you feel during your period. If you’re not able to do any major exercise, some light yoga or pilates stretches really do make a difference.

Although we all reach for the chocolate during those tough few days, this can cause your blood sugars to spike and drop (it’s best to keep them stable). Skipping meals is also a big no-no, you need to care for your body and keep it nourished. Dr. McQuade is also an advocate of the trusty hot water bottle.

In terms of medicine, taking ibuprofen three times a day, two days before your period starts is what Dr. McQuade recommends. Prevention is better than cure. “Since the “pain factors” we mentioned earlier start being released before a period happens, it’s much more effective than waiting for the period pain to begin.”

Help! They are still really painful

Unfortunately some of us need other pain killers as ibuprofen might not have much of an effect on extreme cases. There are plenty of other brilliant options you can try out, under a doctor’s supervision of course. Many women also find taking the contraceptive pill can alleviate period pains, so this is also worth bringing up the next time you go to your GP.

Tracking your period in a notebook or using an app is probably one of the most useful things you can do. By recording your cycles and other menstrual symptoms like fatigue, nausea, tender boobs and bloating, you can see a clearer picture of what’s going on with your body. You’ll feel more in control and be able to explain your problems to your doctor clearly, ensuring you get the help that’s specific to you.

Don’t suffer in silence, and don’t let period pains take over your life. There are so many solutions out there that will make things easier for you.

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: Legally Blonde

Ahhh hormones, they make the world go round, right? Ok, that’s a slight exaggeration but they’re deffo responsible for rollercoaster emotions and the weird and wonderful things that happen to bods during puberty and beyond.

So are you clued up or totally clueless about the chemicals that make us fabulously female?

Let’s find out! (WARNING: This test is tricky).

1. Ok, so one of these ISN’T a legit hormone. Can you spot it?

2. What’s the name of the super-important hormone that kicks off your first period during puberty?

3. Aww, did you know the brain releases a ‘cuddle’ hormone that makes you feel all warm and loving. What’s it called?

4. What natural chemical in the bod causes those demon cramps when you’ve got your period?

5. Boys have oestrogen in their bodies too. True or False?

6. You feel pain less when oestrogen is at its highest (the week after your period finishes). Fact or fib?

7. The follicle-stimulating hormone sounds fancy. But what does it do?

8. Due to the blue light that devices let off, too much time on your phone late at night (yup, guilty), can meddle with the sleep-related hormone called…

9. Progesterone majorly peaks sometime during your monthly menstrual cycle, but do you know when?

10. What’s the name of the brain-chemical that makes you happy and fun? (When this dips you can feel super-sad too. Boo.)

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. 

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