Periods are an interesting thing to deal with during our teen years. Whether we are rolling our eyes at immature reactions to the menstrual cycle in science lessons, wondering whether we are weird for getting our first period when we are “too young” or “too old” or learning to manage our often irregular cycles, periods can be a lot to handle. We have all asked ourselves “why does this have to happen to me” and, if you are anything like me, you have probably complained that a simple text from Mother Nature would be a lot easier and less messy to handle! We have all been there.
It often seems as though no two periods are alike, not from person to person or even cycle to cycle. Some months it can be more painful, cue the hot water bottle and desire to stay in bed all day, and other times you may feel little more than minor discomfort. While we are young the way we experience our periods changes a lot, so it can be difficult and sometimes rather stressful dealing with an unpredictable flow. Irregular cycles are so common, and there are many harmless reasons, ranging from stress or regular, intense exercise to simply being young and not having a “pattern” yet, why a period may be late or a cycle could be missed. Of course it is always important to listen to your body and speak to a health professional if you are concerned that something may be wrong, but it is helpful to know that seemingly strange periods are likely nothing to be concerned about for the first few years after you start menstruating. Dealing with the realities of your period; from cravings and mood swings to pain and heavy flows, can be a challenge at first and it really helps to find routines that work for you. Eventually you may be able to sense when your period is going to come, but it’s always a good idea to keep a few pads or tampons in your bag and take a pack when travelling, you never know when it will be useful for you or a friend.
There are hundreds of tips and tricks for managing pain, mood swings and cravings and different things work for all the different people experiencing periods. It’s a good idea to try a few different things to see what works best with your body and lifestyle, some people love hot water bottles or drinking a hot tea while others find exercises such as yoga are more helpful. Period trackers, especially ones that allow you to track your mood and other symptoms such as cravings, can be a helpful tool in finding patterns from cycle to cycle and understanding your body although they may struggle to accurately predict when your periods will start if they are particularly irregular. Most importantly, be sure to rely on reputable sources of information and speak to a professional if you feel that you need some form of medication to cope with and manage your period.
Learning about your period and menstrual cycle is a process, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. Listen to your body and speak with the people around you to discover what works for you and what your body needs. Don’t forget that you, me and the millions of other people who menstruate around the world, are all in this together.
Written by: Erika Rugyendo-Henry