You're not a kid anymore. Maybe you're not exactly an adult woman yet, but you know that your body changes when you're a teen -- and you're so ready to move on.
On the other hand, all these changes can completely stress you out. You may worry that you’re not getting breasts as soon as the other girls. Or that you got your period way before everyone else, and what if that pad falls out of your bag?
My patient Olivia had terrible cramps that started when she was about sixteen. When even prescription-strength ibuprofen didn’t work, I suggested the other standard prescription for severe periods—oral hormones (aka birth control pills).
Olivia and her mother both looked a little nervous when I mentioned the pill. Even though it’s perfectly safe and often used for period pain they just weren’t comfortable with it. Olivia’s mother felt she was too young to be on the pill and Olivia herself wasn’t...
As all this is happening, remember three important things:
It’s happening to everyone else, too. They might not talk about it, but even the most popular girls in school stress out over where to hide their tampons or if their antiperspirant is strong enough. (Really. They do.)
You can survive it -- with a little help.
There are a few things about the big P -- puberty -- that happen to every girl, and that every girl has questions about.
1. Your Period
This is the biggie every girl wonders about. When will I get it? Am I the first one? Am I the last one? What if I get it in the middle of class and I bleed right through my pants and everyone sees?
“Girls wonder how to handle their period at school -- that’s one of the biggest things,” says Elizabeth Alderman, MD, professor of clinical pediatrics at the Albert Einstein School of Medicine in New York and an expert in issues affecting adolescent girls. “I tell them that there are some ways that you can predict when you’re likely to get your first period, and there are things you can do to prepare.”
Doctors measure the beginning of puberty using something called the Tanner scale, which looks at how much pubic hair you have and how much your breasts have developed. If you don’t have any pubic hair yet, or just a little peach fuzz, and your breasts are still mostly flat, you probably have some time before getting your period. But once you start to see coarser, curlier hair down there, and your breasts start to poke out a little, then odds are good that your period will soon follow.
So be prepared:
Carry a sanitary napkin in your purse, in a zippered makeup case so that if it falls out, nobody will see anything embarrassing.
If you wipe in the morning and you see anything brown, pink, or just something that looks a little different, wear a pad or at least a liner just in case. And wear dark-colored bottoms!
If you’re caught without a pad, remember it’s not going to be a huge gush of blood. Wad up some tissue until you can run to the nurse’s office for supplies.
If you get cramps in class, tell the teacher you have a headache and ask to go to the nurse’s office. “Tell the nurse the truth, of course, but you don’t have to announce to the whole class that you have menstrual cramps,” Alderman says.