Before I got my period, I often wondered what it would be like. I wasn’t sure if I was excited about it, or scared and nervous. A friend of mine that was a little older had mentioned it but didn’t really say too much.

Most girls will get their first period somewhere between 9 and 16. About six months before your first period you’ll start getting a white-ish discharge, which you’ll keep getting between your periods. I got my period when I was 13…I wasn’t quite sure what to do, what to use, or who I could chat to about it. In fact, I even wondered if it was really my period because it didn’t actually look like blood. Now I know that sometimes your period doesn’t look or feel the way you might expect — your period might look like blood straight away, or it might start with a pink, red, or brown discharge. If you’re wondering whether you’re really having your period too, talk to your mum, the nurse at school, or another female adult you trust. Don’t feel awkward, they’ve all been there too and understand how you’re feeling.

In the beginning, my period was not very regular — my second period didn’t come for six months! A menstrual cycle can range between 21 and 45 days, but the average is around 28 days. It can be so hard, in the beginning, to predict when your next period is coming, and your period can come anywhere at any time, so it’s a good idea to be prepared. To start with, I bought a few different types of pads so I could see what I liked best, and I always kept a couple of liners, pads or tampons in a small purse in my school bag, just in case. The more I got my period, the more I noticed signs…you might get cramps, headaches, tender breasts, or have mood swings to warn you your period is coming. I kept a note each day of my period on my calendar to keep track of my symptoms. This helped me know what to expect and when. These days you can keep track of your period using an app on your phone…even easier.

So, after all the nerves about getting my period, I learned that being prepared made it so much easier. And, despite being a little scary, the changes are really quite exciting, and a sign that your body is healthy and growing and moving into a new part of your life!

Period tip — put together your own period kit

Your period kit could have a couple of liners, pads, and tampons in it, and maybe even a spare pair of undies. If you have room, you can also pack a spare set of clothes in your kit. Keep your period kit somewhere close, like in your backpack, purse, or locker. And, if you’re going to stay the night at a friend’s house, take your kit with you.