First Menstrual Period: Care Instructions

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Menstrual flow

Your Care Instructions

Your first menstrual period is called menarche. It usually happens around age 12. But it is normal to start as early as age 9 or as late as age 15. Starting your period is a sign that you are growing up and becoming a woman. Having a period also means you can get pregnant if you have sex. You can even get pregnant in the month before your first period starts.

At first, your period may not come every month in a regular pattern. It could be as long as 2 years before yours has a regular pattern. Most women have a period about every 4 weeks.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Ask your mom or someone else you trust for advice on using tampons or pads for the bleeding.
  • To ease cramps, try a heating pad or a warm bath. Daily exercise may also help.
  • Take an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) for cramps. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Do not take two or more pain medicines at the same time unless the doctor told you to. Many pain medicines have acetaminophen, which is Tylenol. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

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