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.)

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.

Image: Emma Block

Whether you’ve already started your period or you’re waiting to come on for the first time, it’s a different experience for everyone – and one we love talking about. Here, YouTube star Just Jodes tells us *all* about her first ever period.

Image: Katie Edmunds

You’ve been counting down to your fortnight in Florida for weeks. Your jazziest bikinis are packed and you’ve primed your mum in the art of taking a good Instagram photo. So why, oh why, does your period have to come just as you’re about to jet off?

While you’d rather be surfing any wave other than the crimson one, rest assured it’s happened to us all at some point, and these are all the things you know if you’ve had your period on holiday…

It always arrives unexpectedly

You weren’t supposed to come on for another eight days, but somehow that little sadist decided to arrive early, landing on exactly the morning you’re getting on a flight to paradise. This was not part of the plan.

Your handbag full of tampons being searched is the most cringe thing ever

It’s like airport security want to embarrass you in front of all the fit groups of boys.

Plane paranoia is real

A nine-hour flight = how many tampon changes?! And there’s nothing like the fear of falling asleep only to wake up having bled through your trousers, and onto the seat, then having to work out how to get to the bathroom without everyone seeing the big red stain on your bum. It’s never actually happened to you, but y’know, it could.

White swimwear is a no-go

You bought it to enhance your tan and had visions of yourself running down the beach like a Victoria’s Secret Angel. However, the minute your period arrives, that white bikini is banished to the bottom of your suitcase. Sigh. Maybe next year.

Tampon strings are the enemy

Sure, you’re forever grateful to the inventor of tampons for enabling you to hit the pool on your period, but why do the strings have such a habit of popping out the side of your swimsuit? And then there was that time you decided to trim it with scissors and almost ended up in A&E. Never again.

You’re fearful of diving and cannonballs

Ever since your friend told you about their cousin’s tampon shooting out when they jumped into a swimming pool, you’ve always used the ladder, as boring as that may be.

Cramps are somehow always worse in the heat

“WHO IS USING MY UTERUS AS A STRESS BALL?!”

But holidays do seem to make your period go away faster

Time flies when you’re having fun!

Image: Amber Griffin

By now, you’ve probably got your period routine down. You’ve got pads and tampons stashed away in every conceivable corner so you’re never caught off guard, you have at least a seven day supply of your fave period craving snacks, you’re all over the painkiller situation and your hot water bottle is ready to go at all times. And then summer comes along and totally throws your fine-tuned coping strategy.

So, what are you supposed to do when the temperatures are through the roof and you don’t want to be within ten feet of a hot water bottle? No sweat, we’ve got you covered.

Stay hydrated

Staying hydrated is important all year round but it’s even more important when you’re dealing with a summer/period double threat. It will help to combat that tired, weary feeling we all get, plus it totally helps with bloating. I know; how will drinking more water help matters? But it works by encouraging your body to flush out all that extra water it just loves to hold onto.

Do some (gentle) exercise

We’re not talking heading out for a marathon, because, really, who has the energy when the sun’s blazing? But when you’re ‘hugging a hot water bottle while quietly whimpering’ game plan goes out the window, gentle exercise is your friend. Honestly. It’s the perfect period pain remedy because it gets your blood flowing which cuts down on cramps.

If that’s not enough of a reason, it’s a great excuse to go outside and be with your own kind. After all, there’s only so much PLL a girl can watch. So, do some not-too-strenuous yoga, a few laps in the pool or just grab your mates and head out for a walk in the sunshine. It might take a whole lot of will power to get up and get active but you’ll feel so much better once you have!

Be prepared

A sudden bout of unexpected sunshine is always a green light for spur of the moment adventures, but the thought of getting caught out can definitely put a dampener on your wanderlust. There’s no need to back out of all the fun, though. Sure, being on your period isn’t high on your summer to-do list but your period is going to go ahead and do its thing anyway, so you may as well do yours. A little prep is all you need.

Firstly, stock up on pads and tampons so you’re covered for a full day. Next up, check out the beach/pool/ice cream factory (hopefully) online and scout out any toilets and cafes so you know exactly where to head when you need to change. Lastly, show your period whose boss and live the summer dream.

Take a break

You don’t want your period to cramp (sorry) your style and spoil your summer fun but it’s totally fine to take a break too. If the thought of peeling yourself off the sofa to go and melt under the 30 degree sun makes you want to hide in the nearest freezer, be kind to yourself and do exactly what you feel like doing. Want to sit directly in front of the most powerful fan in your house while binging on Netflix? Do it. Want to online shop and crunch on ice cubes? Go ahead.

Keep cool

Why does being on your period make it feel ten times hotter? You’re already saddled with the unholy trinity that is cramps, bloating, mood swings and now you’re hotter than the sun. Get on top of that situation ASAP and build yourself a keep-cool armoury. You’ll need cooling spray, a mini fan, a bottle of iced water and the breeziest dress you own.

Wear what you want

In winter, a long jumper and unbuttoned jeans is the epitome of period chic; warm, comfy and bloat-friendly. Fast forward to the summer holidays and it’s not quite that easy when wearing literally any clothes at all feels like a trip to the seventh circle of hell. This is where you need to remember the rules: there are no rules. If your stomach feels like it’s trying to escape your waistband and you don’t feel 100% confident about showing skin right now, go for an airy kaftan and pretend you’re at Coachella. But equally, if you’re all about crop tops; don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t wear the hell out of them. There’s no judgement; only cute summer style.

Treat Yourself

If you’re dealing with your period during a heat wave, you’re basically Wonder Woman. Give yourself a round of applause for being a fearless survivor and treat yourself with immediate effect. It doesn’t matter if it’s a fresh nail varnish shade, a giant ice cream, a new book or a lazy afternoon, you’ve earned it.

@SophieBenson

Image: Getty

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.

Image: Pantone/Katie Edmunds

I was 12 and wearing cream Eeyore pyjamas when I got my first ever period.

I really loved them – comfy, cropped shorts with a frilly seam and a matching strappy top embroidered with my favourite moody A A Milne character. But even Disney wasn’t enough to keep adulthood away, and on a hot summer night during a family holiday in which I discovered my love of French petrol station hot dogs, it came.

Being 12 is so great, but it’s a time when everything changes, and that can be disorientating. That summer I’d just finished my first year at secondary school and it felt as if everyone expected me to behave both as a kid, and an adult. And that’s how I saw myself too.

On the adult days I practiced walking in heels on the driveway and couldn’t wait to start earning my own cash so I could buy my friends amazing birthday presents, instead of relying on my parents for a fiver every month.

On the kid days, I wanted to roll like a human sausage down every grassy hill I saw, and watch cartoons next to the biscuit tin after school.

Being 12 – and most of your teen years, let’s be honest – is an age when you’re on the cusp of adulthood, but then childhood sneaks in and pulls you back like an elastic band. You want to buy your favourite chocolate on the way home from school, but the law says you’re too young to earn money. You want to hang out all night with your friends but your parents have set a curfew.

You want to wear your favourite cream frilly pyjamas, but you get your first period.

Back to that morning in France. The story of my first period actually starts the day before, at a market near the villa my family and I were staying at. I was checking out the anklet options when a rush of nausea came over me really quickly, and I fainted. I was prone to fainting during my teens (something I eventually grew out of, though that doesn’t stop me carrying a packet of chocolate digestives everywhere I go ‘just in case’).

My Dad and stepmum – one by the arms, the other by the anklet-less ankles – picked me up like a table and carried me across the road while I wet myself, leaving a humiliating trickle of urine as we went. I was a human wee snail.

It sounds scary but, in reality, I came around about 30 seconds later. Other than the fact that my favourite denim miniskirt now smelt of wee, and my sister wouldn’t stop moaning about how the sarong stall was going to close any minute, I felt fine. My parents and I put the faint down to the hot weather and we all trotted back to the car.

The day continued as planned; we got back to the villa, jumped in the pool and my siblings and I proceeded to make up a water-based musical inspired by The Little Mermaid, complete with a crab dance that we still sometimes crack out at Christmas. The faint was forgotten.

Until the next day when I woke up and went to the loo as always. That’s when I pulled down my PJ bottoms and saw it; my period had soaked into the pyjamas and was all over my inner thighs, making them sticky (but not a spot on the white bed sheets – must have been beginner’s luck). There was a lot of it. Some was bright red, other patches were brown and dry. I was one of the first among my friends to get their period, and neither of my three sisters had started yet. I began to panic.

Without thinking, I whipped the PJs back on and wrapped a towel around my waist. Palms sweating, head spinning, I began racing – thighs glued together to keep the period in, using only my lower legs to move, like a cartoon – around the villa to find my stepmum. I’d seen her pack sanitary pads before we left but had no idea where she kept them… I mean, I’d never even owned pads before. Like a menzies detective, possibilities filled my mind. Did she keep them in her handbag? Knicker drawer? THE FRIDGE?!

After turning the cutlery drawer upside down and finding nothing, I turned to plan B: find an adult. I went to see my sunbathing sisters – chilled and enjoying their period-free lives – who told me that our parents had gone to the supermarket and didn’t know when they’d be back.

So I did the only logical thing I could think of. I grabbed a snack from the kitchen (Lays crisps, holiday staple), locked myself back in the bathroom and sat on the loo, waiting for my period to slowly drip into it. Like the olden days, when women simply had to sit on buckets until it stopped.

Now, I’ve never bungee-jumped off a 100ft bridge in the middle of a snowstorm wearing a short dress and no knickers, but I imagine the feeling when it’s over isn’t dissimilar to the relief I felt when I heard my parent’s keys in the door. I called for my stepmum and summoned her to my period throne.

She wasn’t scared. In fact, she was super calm. It was all going to be ok – she gave me a hug and a pad, and stroked my head while I cried about not being able to swim for the rest of the holiday.

Later that afternoon I’d held a welcome party for my period cravings by polishing off my third cheese and ham baguette, and was sat with my legs dangling in the nice cold pool. I felt like everything was going to be ok.

And it really was totally fine. Fine. When my brother pushed me into the pool, oblivious to the fact I was wearing the second sanitary towel of my life, the pool didn’t turn into tomato soup. The landlord didn’t try to kick us out the villa because I’d unsuccessfully flushed a sanitary towel down the loo (don’t try it, never try it). And I didn’t even leak through the white linen trousers I wore to get ice cream at lunch. I survived.

Now, when I’m expecting my period, I either sleep in black knickers so that I don’t stain another fabulous pajama set, or wear a pad to bed. What was the lesson my first ever period taught me? That there’s nothing that can’t be solved by switching your Eeyore pyjamas for the toy instead.

And always go to the sarong stall early.

Image: Katie Edmunds

Whether you’ve already started your period or you’re waiting to come on for the first time, it’s a different experience for everyone – and one we love talking about. Here, YouTube star Sophdoesnails tells us *all* about her first period.

Image: Katie Edmunds

Elijah, 26, was born in a biologically female body but identifies as a man. He began his physical transition just over two years ago.

I was 13 when I got my first period. Most people at school had already started and my mum had prepped me quite well, so I knew what was on the horizon, but that didn’t make it any easier. I hated them from the word go.

At the time, I was a long way off understanding myself like I do now. I was dressing as a tomboy and was struggling with my sexuality because I was finding myself attracted to girls, but I hadn’t yet realised I was transgender.

I remember my periods being a great source of great pain and distress, and looking back, I think that was linked to general feelings of being uncomfortable in my body. I now know that what I was probably experiencing was something called gender dysphoria [where a person experiences distress because there’s a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity] but I didn’t understand that at the time, or have the language to articulate it.

As I got older, the distress my periods caused me became more and more tied to my gender identity. And once I’d decided to transition, having periods became even more frustrating. I had to live as my ‘desired gender’ for a while before the doctors would give me the hormones I needed to start making my body change. So I was using male toilets and asking everyone to call me these new male pronouns like ‘he’ and ‘him’, but I wasn’t visibly changing. That was really tough and at that point having periods started to feel really hurtful. The best way I can describe it is that it was like a personal insult every month. I’d made these decisions and announcements but my body wasn’t keeping up with things. I was trying my best to change but they were undermining everything.

When I started hormone therapy, my periods stopped relatively quickly but I had to up my dose a couple of times because I was getting period pains and bloating and things like that. That was really hard because I felt like I was past having periods and then some of the feelings came back again.

There are a few things that helped me cope, and which might help you if you’re transgender and are struggling with your periods. The first is to try not to give your periods power. My dad used to say the same thing when I had panic attacks – if you give the anxiety power then you’re not in control. It’s the same with periods. Remember that it’s your body and you’re in control.

You can take back control by giving yourself time, space, love and care. If you know that your period is going make you feel extra rubbish (or maybe there are a couple of days of your period that are particularly bad) then take care of yourself all the more on those days. Eat ice cream, exercise if that helps you feel good (it’s always helped me), and just do what you need to do.

Try to be open as well. I think I would have had an easier time if I’d been more open about what I was experiencing. Once I’d learnt how to communicate about it a bit with my mum, I could say “I feel really bad because of my period” and I think that was one of the things that helped me to take the power away from it. Not talking about my periods and suffering in silence gave them all the power in the world.

The good news is that young trans people today are having a very different experience to the one I had. There’s so much more awareness then when I was young. And the internet has really helped, too. You can find information and support and other trans people to talk to.

And things have moved on medically, too. These days, lots of young people have the opportunity to put female puberty on hold so they can try testosterone as soon as they turn eighteen. You obviously have to see psychotherapists and other specialists and jump through various hoops but, generally speaking, it’s much easier nowadays to start some sort of treatment before puberty hits and your periods start.

But if you are having periods and hating them because you’re transgender, just know that it won’t be forever. Keep telling yourself that. If you decide to transition, your body will move past this tricky time eventually. You just have to give it time and be patient.

As told to @LucindaEverett.

Image: Hailey Hamilton

Whether you’ve already started your period or you’re waiting to come on for the first time, it’s a different experience for everyone – and one we love talking about. So we caught up with Made In Chelsea star Georgia Toffolo, who told us all about her first period…

Whether you’ve already started your period or you’re waiting to come on for the first time, it’s a different experience for everyone – and one we love talking about. So we got cosy with Amy Abrahams, a journalist who loves writing about bodies, wellbeing and mental health for glossy mags such as Glamour, who told us all about her first period…

Whether you’ve already started your period or you’re waiting to come on for the first time, it’s a different experience for everyone – and one we love talking about. So we got cosy with Amber Atherton, founder of seriously cool jewellery brand My Flash Trash and ex Made In Chelsea star, who told us all about her first ever period.