Hey, you learn something new every day! Or at least, in the case of me and my uterus, every month.

Here are the most important lessons I have learned while getting to, um, grips with tampons…

1. Don’t use tampons for the first time when you’re in a hurry

1) giphy-1

Puberty arrived for me when I turned 12, right at the end of the summer holidays. I was the youngest in my class, and when I returned to school for the autumn term, it seemed that everyone was an old hand at this period lark whereas I was still very much a novice. So when I felt that familiar tickle in my abdomen during Double French, a month after I got my first period, I wasn’t prepared with sanitary towels, and had to scuttle off to the loos clutching a tampon my friend gave me instead.

I had never used a tampon – only pads – but I found myself shivering in the freezing Victorian toilet, looking at this weird cotton pen-like thing, thinking “well, how hard can it be?”

Thirty seconds later I discovered exactly how hard when (and I swear this is true), not being able to see what I was doing – or even knowing what it was supposed to feel like – almost inserted the tampon into my bottom.

I went back to class with a rolled-up wad of loo paper in my knickers instead, and a face red with embarrassment. Also I limped a bit.

2.  Always read the instructions

2) giphy-3

Even though I’d studied the diagrams of the reproductive system at school, I still sort of thought that the vagina was a straightforward hole-tunnel affair, and that putting a tampon in would be like popping a cork in a bottle.

But, as I stood there with one foot on the toilet seat and my tongue poking out of my mouth in concentration, I was really glad I’d taken the time to unfold the gigantic instruction sheet and pore over it like an Ikea instruction manual. Otherwise I might not have realised that you need to angle the tampon towards the small of my back, or to consciously relax, and I might have ended up with a tampon in the bum again.

3. Don’t get frustrated if it’s not comfortable

3) Brave-Frustrated

Sometimes your vagina isn’t lubricated (slippy) enough and the tampon feels too rough. Sometimes you haven’t put it in far enough and it leaves a weird, heavy weight inside you. Sometimes the string gets squashed against your flesh. Sometimes the stars just aren’t aligned right.

Don’t worry that you’re not doing it right, or that something scary is up – just take it out (slowly!), relax, and try again later.

4. Always match the tampon to your flow

4) giphy-9

Sometimes when you go to the dentist for a procedure they’ll ask you to take a mild painkiller beforehand, in case you need pain relief later. Do not take this approach with tampons – it doesn’t matter if your flow starts off light and then gets heavier, always use the lightest possible option for your type of flow – otherwise it can feel uncomfortable until you start producing a heavier menses, and puts you at risk of toxic shock syndrome.

Also, it’s no fun walking around with a grimace on your face all day. No fun at all.

5. Don’t panic if it gets stuck!

5)giphy-12

Ok, there have been times when I’ve gone to pull the string out and nothing’s happened. It’s like there’s a team of vagina-gnomes in there holding fast to the other end, just to mess with me.

Whenever this happens, images start flashing through my mind – me, going ashen-faced to the hospital A&E; me in stirrups while a team of doctors point between my legs and laugh; me, in the Guinness Book of Records as The Woman Who Had a Tampon Inside Her Her Entire Life.

Then I take a few deep breaths and remind myself that my vagina is basically a big muscle, and sometimes muscles just… contract. Sooner or later I relax, and then the tampon comes out.

6. Always take more than you need

6) giphy-32

My best friend is incredibly smooth with her period. She doesn’t get period pains and can switch her tampon quicker than I can blink. I am not like her.

Often, I am clumsy, which means that when I’m fishing around for a new tampon in my bag, three others fall into the toilet itself. Sometimes the one I insert comes straight out with the applicator when I take my hand away. Occasionally, because I pack my bag early in the morning when I’m still essentially asleep, I find that instead of a tampon, I have brought a banana.

My point is: always take extra tampons, because you might be an idiot like me.

7. There’s no shame in a pad

giphy-14

After all is said and done, tampons aren’t for everyone, and for a lot of people they don’t fit all situations. Often, at the beginning and ends of my period when my flow is light, I’m not lubricated enough (hiya) to use a tampon. Sometimes, you have bad cramps and your entire lower half feels inflamed and there is nothing you want to do less than introduce a tampon into the mix. Sometimes sanitary pads are simply a better option, so find some that you like and keep a stash around for when tampons don’t quite cut the mustard.

8. Don’t put them in sideways

You probably know this one already. And obviously I did! I mean, I never tried it! That would be stupid! Don’t listen to anyone who says that I did!

Ha ha ha!

Seriously though.

@orbyn

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: Manjit Thapp

The only thing worse than a late period is an early one, amiright ladies? An unexpected visit from your flow can have you caught all kinds of unprepared.

Of course, this never seems to happen when you’re home in your own bathroom, within easy reach of a multipack of tampons. OF COURSE it doesn’t. Instead your period betrays you and arrives at the worst possible moment. For example…

1. When you’re sleeping at your friend’s house

Bloodying your own sheets is one thing. Bloodying your mate’s is a whole other, somewhat embarrassing, ballgame – especially when their mum arrives upstairs to change them and ask if you need fresh PJs. Why yes, Carol, that would be great. Now LEAVE.

2. When you’re sleeping at your grandma’s house

Sure, Grandma is sympathetic, but she hasn’t had a period since 1989. SHE DOESN’T HAVE TAMPONS! She’ll probably cut up a towel and make you shove a bit in your knickers until she makes it to the shops and back with your supplies. Sigh.

3. When you’re on a plane

That window seat seems like a great catch until you need to escape to the bathroom at speed and the two people beside you are sound asleep. They won’t take kindly to you climbing over them, either; not least because they’ll wake up to your bloody crotch in their faces.

4. When you’re on the beach

When will beaches start providing more public toilets, eh? And even if there are facilities, that won’t stop all your guy mates asking why you can’t just pee in the sea, then starting rumours about you pooing at the beach. If only they knew the pain and suffering you were going through. Meh.

5. When you’re camping

What was that you read about bears being able to smell blood?

6. When you’re wearing white jeans

Not only are your jeans ruined, but so is your self-esteem. Thanks, womb lining.

7. When you’re in the middle of an extra-long assembly at school

You know if you stand up and try to run to the bathroom the head teacher will ask you – in front of the entire school – where you’re going. And you know if they ask you that you’ll burst into tears. Hormones are evil.

8. When you’re in the middle of a really long hockey game

You can’t lose this match, but you also can’t focus on your stick work for worrying blood is going to start trickling down your leg soon.

9. When you’re having your birthday party

Someone else’s birthday party = unfortunate. Your own birthday party = just plain torture.

10. When you’ve just changed your sheets

You didn’t spend half an hour trying to change your duvet colour, only for it to be stained red hours later.

11. Anytime other than when you expected it

Please stick to the schedule, period. Didn’t we have a deal?

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

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.

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

Damn those girls whose periods seem to last for a fraction of a second. Those who can wear dainty dresses, white underwear and nothing more than a mini tampon to soak up the thimble full of menses coming from their vagina every month.

Those girls are not us, are they? Because if you’re reading this, it’s probably safe to say you pulled the short straw when it comes to the time of the month.

Welcome to the heavy period club: an elite group of menstrual superheroes. We might look like other women and girls, but behind the cool facade we’re dealing with serious pants carnage, and secretly panicking that the 16 pack of super tampons stashed in our handbag might not see us through the day…

Here are 16 things you only know if you have a heavy flow.

Leaking is a given

Cue checking every seat when you stand up.

Sneezing has all kinds of consequences

Pray for us during flu season…

Long journeys are a nightmare

Needing to pop to the loo every hour is pretty restrictive.

Even travelling to the toilet can be risky.

Don’t make any sudden movements.

You regularly clear the local supermarket shelves clean out of sanitary items

You’re single-handedly supporting the government with your contribution to tampon tax.

And getting caught short is your worst nightmare

Send help.

You have special period knickers

And who knows what colour they were to begin with?

And wearing white is completely out of the question

Unless you want the pink ombre look, that is.

Sleepovers are a no-no for one week each month

It’s bad enough risking leaking onto your own sheets for seven days, let alone spoiling your friend’s fancy bedding.

And swimming?

One word: bloodbath.

You’re genuinely impressed by how much blood you lose

 

It’s a miracle we’re still alive, tbh.

With heavy flow can come great pain

Ouch.

But the more you bleed, the more chocolate you can eat

So it’s swings and roundabouts.

The day you’re due on is like a military operation

Super tampons? Check. Clear line to the bathroom? Check.

But when you finish you want to throw a party.

Finally, it’s over. Until next month.

You feel sorry for yourself, but know it’s just the way you’re made…

This Mean Girls GIF is your soulmate.

Jokes aside though, heavy periods are totally normal most of the time. But they can be a sign of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, or other issues.

According to the NHS, the average amount of blood lost is between 30-40ml, with 9 out of 10 people losing below 80ml. Generally, your period will be considered heavy if you lose more than 60ml over the course of your period. But unless you’re about to sit on a measuring jug for a week, it’s best to learn what is normal for your body – and if you’re concerned, have a chat with your doctor or an adult you trust.

@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. 

Image: Getty

Does anyone actually look forward to their period? We’ve all heard of those mythical girls who barely notice their flow and claim to actually feel better when they’re on, but for most of us, a week of spots, rage, killer cramps and the rest ain’t loadsa fun.

If you reckon that the only reason to count down to your period is to work out when it’ll all be over, then we’ve got news for you: it doesn’t actually have to be that bad. Check out these seven ways to make your period something to look forward to.

1. Guilt-free snackage

You have 75% of your life to worry about whether or not you should eat just one more spoon of peanut butter/Nutella/Dairylea spread, but this is not the time for that.

It’s not because calories don’t count while you’re on your period (total fake news), but if a few extra goodies take your mind off feeling like a limp lettuce leaf, then go on – treat yo’self. Remember that healthy snacks like bananas and nuts are great for boosting energy, too.

2. Dress to impress no one

Want to wear massive, holey dungarees, your mum’s gardening jumper and a pair of slipper socks? That’s an acceptable OOTD right there. Or is a dressing gown and a beanie you bought with your pocket money on a school trip to the zoo in 2005 more your style? Girl, you look fresh.

How about leggings that are bobblier than a bunch of bobble hats but are just way too soft to throw away? Pop them right on! There’s only one trend you should be bothered about at this time of the month: #COSY.

3. Be a human hedgehog

On days when even crawling up to your bed feels like a bit of an effort, why not indulge in a spot of sofa hibernation? Wrap yourself in every blanket you can find, curl up in a big fuzzy ball, fire up Netflix and watch episodes 1-12 of whatever the hell you want without moving.

On a normal day that might feel a bit lazy, but when it’s your period, it’s allowed. We say so.

4. Nice one, bod

Hooray, your body is doing a great job! It might be a pain, but your period’s arrival each month means that your insides are doing exactly what they’re meant to do.

Usually, it means you’re a healthy weight (as being under or overweight can affect your cycle), that you’re not pregnant (although some women’s periods continue while pregnant) and it’s your body’s way of having a little spring clean. Party time!

5. Be a girl

Getting your period is one big fat reminder of the fact that you’re a woman and even if this is a slightly sucky way to be reminded of it, you can’t deny it: being a girl rocks. If you’re super-feminine and love being able to dress up, or if you like lifting weights to feel strong, or if you’re all about building a kick-ass girl tribe, now is the best time of all to celebrate.

Whether you look up to Malala, Taylor Swift, Michelle Obama or Kylie Kardashian, your little red friend is here to remind you that you, like them, can do anything!

6. Give yourself a break

As tiredness rules and hormones are raging, you might find yourself being a liiiittle bit unreasonable at times. While it’s never great to feel like you’re not being your best version of yourself, no one says the right thing 100% of the time.

Your hormones get a bit wonky during this time of the month and can make you act in ways you wouldn’t otherwise. If you slip up and snap someone’s head off, don’t sweat it: just say sorry (this is key!) and move on. Definitely don’t dwell on it because you have way more important things to be doing (like making a hot choc and having an early night).

7. It’s a time to focus on you

While not everyone feels wiped out by their period, it’s not unusual to crave a bit of downtime at home. It’s totally annoying to have to change plans just so you can lie around, but if you do have to, then make the most of it!

Life can get so jam-packed with mates, school, work and parties that there’s never time to try baking muffins, putting together some outfits or writing to your MP about something that’s making you mad. Make your period work for you!

8. It’s time for a little treat to plop onto your doormat

Need we even point out one of the coolest things of all to happen at this time of the month… It’s your bettybox, of course!

bettybox subscribers get a bunch of goodies including beauty products from brands you love, sweet treats and your choice of period protection, perfectly timed to arrive when you need it most. Find out more here!

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. 

Periods. They’re certainly not bad, but there’s no denying that they’re bloody annoying at times, especially if you have painful cramps or a heavy flow. Whether you’re on hormonal contraception or not, you might have toyed with the idea of delaying your monthly visitor, especially around holidays and special occasions. But just how possible is it, and is it safe?

Through women and babies’ health charity Wellbeing Of Women, we spoke to Sangeeta Agnihotri – a consultant in gynaecology and obstetrics – to find out the options. Here’s what she had to say…

Hi Sangeeta! Can I run my pill together without a break if I want to avoid my period over the holidays?

“It is safe to run a combined pill back-to-back and – if you take it without a break for three months/cycles – it’s known as tri-cycling. This may be recommended by your doctor if you have exams or a sporting event coming up, or if you suffer from endometriosis.”

Great! How long is it safe to do this for?

“A withdrawal bleed (a period when the pill is stopped) is advised after three months and then the pill may be continued, either monthly or tri-cycled again.”

What if I wasn’t on the pill? I’ve heard of something called Norethisterone for delaying periods…

“Norethisterone is a hormone, but it is a progesterone, not oestrogen. This maybe prescribed by your GP, family doctor, or gynaecologist to postpone a period. In that case you must begin taking it three days before the period is expected to start, but it can also be used to stop heavy bleeding during a period.”

How safe is it?

“It is safe and the side effects may be nothing. However, if taken for a long period of time, you may experience water retention, weight gain, breast tenderness and/or constipation.”

Are there any other methods of period delay available?

“Nothing more other than variations of the progesterone [Norethisterone].”

Thanks, Sangeeta!

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. 

Erm, doesn’t it seem like only yesterday when you were happily whizzing around on your scooter in the park or playing hopscotch with your pals and your deepest thoughts consisted mainly of what Santa was going to bring you for crimbo? Sorry to break it to you, but those were the glory days. Now? Well, everything feels kinda different doesn’t it? Suddenly there’s big-deal stuff going on and you’re feeling all the emotions on the regular.

Mood swings are a legit part of going through puberty, starting your period, and dealing with the hefty package of hormones that come your way. There are changes going on in your body rn that are beyond your control, so if you’re questioning “AM I EVEN NORMAL?” as you slam your bedroom door so hard it almost comes off the hinges, cut yourself some slack. This is normal behaviour. And it won’t last forever.

Tbf, it’s pretty inconvenient to be permanently on the edge of a tantrum or teary moment though. So before you contemplate hibernating from the world and emerging when you’re 25, here are some of the major moods you might be feeling at the mo, and what you can do to help handle them.

You’re angry

Oh. The. Rage. We’ve all felt the anger-monster a million times over – when your blood is literally boiling and you feel like you’ve got a fire-breathing dragon living inside of you.

And here’s the kicker. Such dramatic feelings are probably the result of some teeny-weeny, innocent crime such as your bro nicking the TV remote or your mate blanking you on Whatsapp. Irrational? Yep. Controllable? Nope.

What to do?

Breathe. That’s all. You just need to breathe through your anger until you’ve calmed down. This can prevent an outburst that you might regret later when the trigger moment has passed. Close your eyes and inhale slowly for five seconds and exhale slowly for five seconds – with each breath you should feel the red mist start to lift. Another way you can deal is to harness those fierce emotions and direct them into exercise, or channel them into a creative project – some of the greatest artists, musicians and writers have made their best work when being in an angry place.

You’re reckless

If you’re often impulsive or have a habit of blurting stuff out without thinking, there’s actually a reason for it. Here’s a nugget to quote to your parents when you’ve been grounded (again) for doing something stupid. Studies have shown that the front part of the brain, called the prefrontal cortex, isn’t fully developed until around the age of 20.

Because this area of the brain is responsible for sensible stuff like planning, anticipation, controlling and understanding emotions, it explains why teenagers are likely to do crazy, careless stuff sometimes.

What to do?

You’ve probably realised that just saying soz after doing something silly or potentially dangerous unfortunately doesn’t cut it as you’re getting older, so being able to asses a situ for its risk factor is an essential skill to learn. Take five seconds to ask yourself these simple questions before saying or doing something bonkers; “Is this *really* a good idea?”, “is it worth getting into trouble for?” and “will I look back on this as a major fail moment?”. Getting into this habit will help you to make better life decisions. The bonus is that the more you can show your ‘rents you’re considering your actions and can be responsible, the more they’ll trust you and not treat you like a kid. And the more you won’t get angry (see above).

You’re sad

Sometimes everything seems a bit bleak doesn’t it? And that’s ok. It would be weird if we were super-happy and smiley 24/7, that’s just not real life.

Feeling totes emosh – whether it’s experiencing hurt, disappointment, grief, overwhelm, or just a general low mood – is totally normal, even more so around the time when your period is due. Yep, there’s those pesky hormones at play again.

What to do?

There’s no need to deny your feelings or be ashamed of your sadness. Meaning, if you want to bawl your eyes out while you torture your soul watching sad movie after sad movie, do it. Having a big ugly cry is a natural, healthy way to relieve pent up, heavy emotions and it’s likely you’ll feel soooo much better for it afterwards. Here’s an idea though, why not try challenging your grey mood with a change of scenery and belly-laughter – being cooped up alone in your bedroom sure doesn’t help when you’re low. Hanging out and having mega-lolz with your mates, especially when you least feel like it, can be the best medicine for blasting sadness.

You’re anxious

So it’s standard to get stressed when you run into your crush and your hair is a disaster, or feel worried before taking an exam, but sometimes anxious feelings can strike when you’re doing totally normal, everyday stuff. And that sucks.

The right kind of anxiety can be a useful way of telling you that things are not quite what they should be, or that you need to get out of a situation you’re clearly not comfortable with, but if you regularly find yourself suffering with major stress, you’re massively worrying about the future and your jangly feelings are stopping you enjoying life and having fun, it might be time to go ninja on this sneaky emotion.

What to do?

Anxiety is often fuelled by a bunch of negative thoughts, so the key is to recognise your internal neggy voice and shut it down before it can run rampage – resulting in you feeling stressed, on edge, and all kinds of urgh. By over-analysing situations or worrying about the potential outcomes of something before it has *even* happened (we hear ya), it’s easy to feed the untruths going on in your brain ­– but they are just that, untruths. Working out the reality of a situ vs what your head is telling you is tricky at first, but once you get the hang of it you can push those negative thoughts to one side and not let them side-track your life.

One final thought. If you’re really struggling with your moods, or the lows don’t seem to lift, you should chat to someone about how you’re feeling – having a healthy mind is equally as important as having a healthy body and your parents, teachers and GP are there to help you navigate these difficult emotions.

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. 

Some people hate getting their period, but for others, it’s a sweet release after the traumatic week before. Sure, you might not be bleeding or even cramping, but PMS symptoms – from the grumps to all those chocolate cravings – are the actual worst.

So, next time you’re days away from your period’s visit, remind yourself that all these irritating little thoughts are totally normal. Then wait four weeks and repeat, because womanhood is the gift that just keeps on giving…

Why is nothing going my way?

Your teacher thinks you could try harder on your essay, your best mate can’t sleep over on Friday night and that boy you were finally getting daily texts from has basically fallen off the face of the Earth. It does not rain the week before your period; it pours.

Why are yesterday’s minor problems today’s massive issues?

That rain was already trickling on Monday, but you could deal with it, no biggie. By Tuesday, however, it’s like your world has been flooded and you’re struggling to tread water. Waaaah.

I’ve literally cried four times today

Whether your BFF looks at you the wrong way or your grandma is being super cute, EVERYTHING will reduce you to a teary wreck – the only cure for which is to watch a sad film and cry some more. We recommend Disney Pixar’s Inside Out, which might also help you realise why you’re feeling like this, before you drive yourself completely mad.

‘Why on Earth am I craving chocolate? I AM A CRISP PERSON’

Usually someone could leave you in charge of a year’s supply of Dairy Milk and you’d barely sniff it. This week, however, you’re a chocolate monster. Just go with it – some cravings can only be silenced by giving in.

Why am I fantasising about eating pasta on mashed potato on bread?

Carbs are not the enemy the week before your period; they are your bestest friend.

How can I still be tired after 12 hours sleep?

It just doesn’t make sense, does it? Maybe it’s a carb coma, maybe you’re in the middle of a growth spurt, OR MAYBE THERE’S AN ARMY OF CELLS PREPARING TO REMOVE THEMSELVES FROM YOUR BODY VIA YOUR VAGINA. Period prep is, quite frankly, exhausting.

Oh, wait, my period must be due next week

That lightbulb moment when you realise you’re not an irrational human being, you’re just hormonal, is truly one of the best feelings in the world. You have an excuse for all your junk food eating, crying and laziness every month until menopause, ladies. If that’s not reason enough to celebrate being a woman, then what is?

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

How many times have you felt like everything in your life/body was going spectacularly wrong, only to realise the next day that it was all down to your period? Cramps and mood swings we all know about, but there’s a whole list of little, strange and sometimes surprising symptoms that can signal your period is on its merry way…

Here are 14 of the most universal signs your period is coming. All aboard the PMS Express! Destination: Tampon Town.

1. Life becomes an all-you-can-eat buffet

Sorry, are they going to finish that? Because you only had three breakfasts this morning and there’s a long 45 minutes still to go until lunch… Calorie requirements in our body actually increase before our period, so that gnawing bottomless-pit feeling in your stomach is totally normal. Although dipping crisps in Nutella is all on you.

2. Owwww

If the two or three days before your period were a series of really bad disaster movies, this one would be called Attack of the Cramps. But instead of Vin Diesel leaping through a window, on fire, it’s just two hours of you straddling a hot water bottle, rubbing your belly and whimpering.

3. Your bettybox arrives

You need tampons but you cba to go to the shop. You want choc chip brownies but you don’t want to bake them, buy them or talk to anyone while you’re eating them. You want presents, but it’s not Christmas. Jeez. If only there was a magical box that delivered all this stuff to your house so you could be the hermit chocoholic you were destined to be *ahem*.

4. Everyone is the actual worst

Everyone. Your friends, your parents, your barista, the woman in front of you on the bus. The drawing of a man on your porridge box. Everyone.

5. Everything is the actual saddest

The song you listened to on the bus. Your biscuit breaking off in your tea. An uplifting advert for a bank. All perfectly legitimate reasons to be crying like a baby in the run up to rag week, we promise.

6. There’s a party in your pants

Discharge often increases in the days leading up to your period, and tends to get… creamier in consistency. Sorry to ruin that bagel.

7. You cba

Everything is suddenly effort. You’re so knackered it’s like you just climbed a mountain when all you did was walk to the fridge. You cba so much that you cba to even write ‘can’t be arsed’ out in full.

8. You’re suddenly incredibly aware of your boobs

Oh, hey guys. How’re you doing down there? Not so great, huh? Having a little tantrum in my bra, are we? Did somebody kick you when I wasn’t looking, or…? No sure, fine, just checking. Ok ok, there’s no need to be so SENSITIVE about it.

9. All your clothes look wrong

The dress you loved last week, the trousers that normally go with everything, your very best socks – suddenly wrong, ALL WRONG. Sure, flinging your entire wardrobe around the room while you stand in your pants going, ‘arrrrgggghh I hate them all, I am an undressable monster!’ isn’t the kind of symptom you can’t exactly take to your GP – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a very real side effect of Aunt Flo’s journey down your uterine highway.

10. Your chin is zit city

Just like the arrival of Starbucks red cups or the town centre lights being switched on, a giant flashing pimple (or twelve) on your face is often a surefire sign that holidays are coming. Except in this case the ‘holidays’ mean 3-7 days of vaginal bleeding. Hoorah!

11. Every paving stone is a safety hazard

You’re usually pretty good at walking around, carrying objects, lifting a sandwich to your mouth without dropping the contents all down your top… but not today, sweet cheeks! Clumsiness is a far more common period symptom than you might realise – which might be handy to explain to the person you just threw a latte over.

12. Your brain is soft cheese

What’s Pythagoras’ theorem? Where did you leave your hockey kit? Which one is your house, again? All those simmering premenstrual hormones can create a kind of brain fog, which descends like one of those mists in an old horror movie and makes it harder to concentrate on even easy tasks. So give yourself a break – you’re not stupid, you’re just resting your faculties before battle commences in your pants. You warrior, you.

13. Your belly is a balloon

Less pleasant than a food baby but less terrifying than a baby-baby, having a swollen, gassy belly for a day or two is one of the most common signals that your crimson wave is about to crash. If ever there was an excuse not to eat a kale salad, this is it.

14. Miscellaneous other weird stuff

Puffy hands? Trouble sleeping? Low pain threshold? Weird poos? All could be down to the flight of the red unicorn, my friend. PMS affects every woman in a slightly different, unique way, so if you notice strange things happening in your body around the same time every month, chances are they’re part of your own personal pick ’n’ mix of periody symptoms.

And feeling absolutely nothing weird at all? That’s fine and normal too! You lucky duck.

@laurenbravo

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

Stop panicking. We know you’re panicking. Stop it.

Have you stopped? Are you sure? Are you chill? Good.

If you’ve missed your period, it can send The Fear through your body. Immediately you’re calculating how many pennies you have for nappies, ordering birthing pools, and Google mapping the nearest Babies R Us. Even though you’ve never even had sex.

And even if you HAVE had sex, there can still be many other reasons for a missed period. Put the baby name book down for a minute and listen.

Contraception

A lot of contraceptives, including both types of the pill, the implant, and the injection, contain hormones, and hormones can fiddle with your body. If you’re trying a new contraceptive then it’s likely your period will be irregular for a few months while it settles into the new routine. Like Instagram’s layout changing and you missing messages from people because you don’t know where the hell to find them. Or something.

Being ill

Your body is a fabulous, clever thing. When you’re sick, it goes into protection and organisation mode. It’ll prioritise the most important systems in your body and put all its energy into making you better, meaning sometimes other systems don’t work as well… ta-daa, including your reproductive system. If you were unwell, even with a cold, when you were meant to ovulate then your ovaries might have been in sleep mode, resulting in a missed period. Nifty.

S-T-R-E-S-S

Stress can affect your whole body, including your period. The adrenaline released puts your body into fight or flight mode, meaning your lungs, heart, and muscles are prioritised over systems like the reproductive system. Interestingly this is also why you can get the sh*ts when you’re stressed or nervous – that adrenaline sends everything a bit erratic. And sloppy. Sorry.

Weight change

Gaining or losing weight rapidly can affect your hormone levels, and in turn affect your periods. If your weight changes are so extreme and sudden that you’re missing a period then this probably isn’t too healthy, so it’s best you see your GP to talk everything through.

Too much exercise

Exercise is great. Exercise is wonderful, in fact, but too much can affect your hormone levels. (What we’re learning here is that hormones are VERY SENSITIVE AND DO NOT LIKE CHANGE.) This is much more likely to affect professional athletes, but always make sure you’re exercising in a healthy way and accompanied by a balanced diet.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS is a condition that affects the hormone levels in your body. You can read more about it here, but one symptom of PCOS is missed periods. So, if you find missing periods regularly then a visit to the GP is probably in order.

Plain old puberty

Sigh. Puberty is great, right? So fun! When you first start your period, it’s unlikely to be regular for the first few months. Probably longer. Your period can be so light you’ll think it’s discharge, and so dark brown you’ll think your bumhole and vagina have switched places in the night. They might last for two days, then fourteen, then no days at all. Your reproductive system is like a softplay centre full of toddlers on Smarties. Utter mayhem.

If you still can’t work out why you’ve missed a period and you’re worried about it, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with your GP. They can run tests and put your mind at ease. (And of course if you’re sexually active and worried you haven’t/might not have used protection, you should definitely get things checked out asap).

But remember: YOU ARE NOT THE VIRGIN MARY.

Promise.

@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. 

Starting your period is never going to be a beautiful explosion of unicorns, sparkles and rainbows, but at least if it happens at home then you’ve probably got a stash of stuff that can help you out.

But what happens if you’re lucky enough to be blessed with the magical moment on (shock horror gasp agh) an actual school day.

The thought of legging it through the corridors with your thighs squeezed together, or sitting in the middle of a maths exam with no chance of escape, is basically the stuff of nightmares.

But there are actually a handful of things you can do to make sure that starting your period at school is no sweat. Here’s everything you need to know about preparing for a period at school because, let’s be honest, you’ve got enough to worry about when you’re there.

1. Watch out for the tell-tale signs

Most girls start their period when they’re about 12 years old, but it can come as early as 8 or as late as 16 (basically any age really, which is helpful). That means there’s a pretty good chance that it’ll arrive for the first time while you’re at school. We would do the maths to prove it, but err… no thanks.

Signs that you might have your first period on the way include other signs of puberty, like growing underarm hair or pubic hair. Usually, you’ll start getting your monthly present about two years after your boobs start to grow, and about a year after you start to get a white vaginal discharge. Spot any of those making an appearance and it might be worth popping a pad in your bag.

2. Talk to someone about it

The best way that you can prepare for it is to fully understand both your period and your body. That way you won’t be caught out by any unexpected surprises. They might be kind of annoying, but mums are also a fountain of knowledge when it comes to this type of stuff, so talk to them.

It’s not as embarrassing as you might think – the majority of women have a period, it’s literally how the human race works. Try to talk to your mum, aunties, grandmas, older sisters or your school nurse about any questions you have. It’ll put your mind at ease and help it to seem a whole lot less scary.

3. Always keep a backup in your bag

If you’re going to do one thing to give your period a big, warm welcome, then do this one. It’s always a good idea to start carrying sanitary pads or tampons around with you in advance to make sure you’re not caught out.

Not only will it mean that you’re ready to save your favourite knickers from inevitable disaster when a period does arrive in town, but it also means that you can potentially save your bestie if she gets into a sticky situation, too. Friendship goals.

4. And in case of emergency

Maybe the most extra but genius top tip of all? Keep an extra pair of underwear at the bottom of your school bag. It might sound OTT but whether it’s your first unexpected period, or another one later down the line that sneaked up on you, some spare knickers and tights can be a LIFESAVER.

If you’re caught off guard and have the chance to quickly whip off your now-very-ruined pants for some new ones, you’ll have nothing to worry about and still feel fresh and clean. Just shove them into a pocket in your bag, or hide them in a sock and no one will ever know they’re there.

5. Stash them in a few places

Keeping an emergency pad or a tampon at the bottom of your bag is all very well and good – but what happens if you start your period while your bag is in your locker, and you’re in the middle of P.E. on the other side of school?

You can never be over-prepared, so why not distribute a few more backups in other handy places? You could keep one in your main school bag, your P.E. kit, your pencil case, your locker and one in your blazer pocket.

6. Remember there’s always someone who can help

Forgotten to shove a tampon in your pencil case? Sitting through English with the feeling that um, it’s definitely happened? Please don’t worry or panic about being caught short – there are tons of people in school who’ll be able to help you out.

First of all, ask your closest friends if they’ve got a spare pad that you can steal. If they’re not able to save the day (or you don’t feel comfortable talking to them about it), a female teacher or your school nurse will always be on hand to get it sorted. You might feel a bit awkward or shy about asking, but just say: “I started my period today and I don’t have my supplies.” They’ll know exactly what to do.

7. Create a period first aid kit

We all have that one friend who’s always RIDICULOUSLY over-organised, and if that friend is you then this will definitely be a period preparation dream to you. To make sure that you’re always ready for the crimson wave, pack a mini period first aid kit in a spare pencil case or makeup bag.

How about you basically just empty the contents of your bettybox – tampons, pads, makeup for your period spots, chocolate to ease PMS – into the super cute pouch and sit back in awe of your handy work.

8. Make a note of your dates

Your first period probably won’t last very long as it can take your body a little while to get into a regular pattern. As a general rule, once they’ve settled into a normal cycle, you’ll have a period every 28 to 30 days and will last between 3 to 7 days.

It makes sense to start making a note of the dates that your period arrives, as it’ll help you to figure out when you can expect the next one. If you don’t want to write ‘PERIOD PARTY DAY’ in big capital letters in your school planner, a little sticker or emoji could be a good shout.

9. Don’t worry about it

Whether you’re the first in the squad or the last to get your period, it’s absolutely something you shouldn’t ever be embarrassed or worried about. You’re literally one of thousands of girls who will have had a period at your school.

It’s just a natural part of growing up, you’re surrounded by people who’ll be able to help you out if you need it, and now you’re clued up on a few easy ways to prepare in advance! You’ve only got another fifty years of period to get through anyway. YAY.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Amber Griffin

Breasts can be mysterious creatures. Like supporting characters from Alice in Wonderland, one day they can feel tiny, the next they feel huge. One day they look like twins, the next they barely feel like friends. Sometimes they’re like your own personal set of cushions – and sometimes, they hurt.

Curiouser and curiouser.

Why is this happening?

A lot of people find that their boobs are a bit sore, achy or tender in the lead up to their period. It can be a warm-up act before the main event, like the other symptoms of PMS.

While the exact cause is unknown (helpful, science) it’s thought be due to the changing levels of your hormones at that point in your cycle. Just before your period, your progesterone production peaks and your breast lobules (milk ducts, although ‘lobules’ is much more fun to say) might expand. As they swell, your nerves may have to stretch themselves a bit longer than normal, which could make your breasts feel a little on the tender side.

If you haven’t started your period yet, don’t panic if you have a tingling sensation or an aching in your chest, this is probably just your breast buds developing. Woo-hoo!

How long will it last?

Most women find that their breasts start feeling a little sore one to three days before their period starts, and generally go back to normal by the time they finish riding the crimson wave.

TL;DR? Here's the important stuff:
  • Breathe, it’s actually super common. More common than perfectly symmetrical breasts, in fact.
  • During puberty, it’s likely that one will develop faster than the other. They’ll probably continue to grow at different speeds throughout your teenage years, and most adult women still have one that is bigger than the other.
  • This shouldn’t affect your life in any way other than making bras shopping a bit more of a puzzle. But always buy the size that fits your bigger side, as a general rule of thumb. Or boob.

Is there anything I can do to ease the ache?

Some people find that cutting back on salt, sugar, caffeine and dairy helps, so you could give that a go if your boobs are being a real pain in the… er, chest. Comfort-wise, you may find that wearing a good supportive bra, such as a sports bra, helps to minimise the aching, and it will stop things jiggling about any more than is strictly necessary.

Lots of women say that regular exercise helps to fight their menstrual aches and pains. If you find running is a sore-boob nightmare (bounce factor), why not try cycling or walking? After all, you’re already wearing a sports bra.

If your boobs are super painful and playing on your mind, don’t panic. But do step away from Google. Over-the-counter painkillers might help (ask an adult and always follow the packet instructions), or just try giving your boobs a few days while your period finishes.

If they’re still feeling really sore, or if you just want to check what’s what, maybe head to your GP for a chat.

So I’m not dying?

Almost definitely not. You’re just going through the rabbit-hole of puberty. But hey, at least there’s 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. 

Image: Hailey Hamilton