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Five Things Girls Want to Know about Periods

How Do I Tell My Mom or Dad That I Got My First Period?

It's normal to feel a little shy about sharing this bit of news. In some families, talking about body stuff might seem like no big deal. With this kind of family, they might take you out to dinner to celebrate your womanhood!

Other families might be more private, so a girl might not know exactly what to say or whom to tell. But this news needs to be shared, at least with one grown-up in the family. You might just pull the person aside and say it clearly, like this: "I got my first period today. Do you think you can help me get some supplies?"

If brothers and sisters find out, they might razz you a bit. Just tell them that it means you're getting older.

How Does a Tampon Work?

Unlike pads, which catch blood after it comes out of the vagina, a tampon is inserted in the vagina. It's made of soft material with a string for easy removal. The opening to the vagina is between the urethra (where pee comes out) and the anus (where poop comes out).

It may take a while to get the hang of using tampons. Tampon applicators can be plastic or cardboard, and you can use whichever one you like better. Inside each box, there's an instruction booklet that will tell you how to insert it. Tampons come in different absorbencies. Try starting with regular and then switching if you need to. One tampon can be worn for a maximum for 8 hours.

If a tampon ever does feel "stuck," it's only temporary. It can't get lost inside you because there's no other way out except through the vagina. Relax and wait a few minutes, and then you should be able to get the tampon out.

Can I Go Swimming During My Period?

Swimming during your period isn't a problem. However, you will want to use a tampon when swimming so you don't bleed on your swimsuit. Pads won't work. The tampon won't fall out if it is inserted correctly, so go ahead and make a splash!

Tampons also can be helpful for girls who exercise or play sports during their periods. Although pads will work, they can be bulky and uncomfortable.

Everyone Says You Need to be Prepared for Your Period by Having Pads or Tampons. What Happens If I Don't Have Them?

If this happens, here are your options: Borrow from a friend, buy some from a restroom dispenser, visit the school nurse if you're at school, or call home so your mom or dad can bring you what you need. If you are desperate and trying to keep your clothes from staining, you can fold up some tissues or toilet paper and place them in your underwear. That won't work for long, so you'll need to get some pads or tampons quickly.

If you are nervous about telling the school nurse, a teacher, or another adult about what you need, write it down on a piece of paper or use code words. You might say that "it's that time of the month" or that you need some "personal supplies." Even better, keep extras in your backpack, locker, or gym bag.

What If Blood Leaks Through My Undies and Pants?

Oh, no! There's blood on the back of your pants — what do you do? It happens to just about every girl at some point. Sometimes it happens in a place where you aren't at home, so you can't change right away. But if you are wearing a sweater or jacket, you can take it off and tie it around your waist. Then get a fresh tampon or pad so that it doesn't bleed through your pants more than it already has.

Change as soon as you can. You'll need to rinse your underwear and pants with cold water as soon as possible. Sometimes, the stain comes out and sometimes it doesn't. To avoid this mishap, change your pads and tampons regularly, and keep extras in your backpack or locker.

For extra protection on heavy days, some girls wear a pad with a tampon. As added insurance, wear dark-colored underwear and pants during your period.

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