To be prepared for your first period, keep sanitary towels or tampons at home, and carry some in your bag.
Sanitary towels are thin pads that line your underwear to soak up the blood as it leaves your vagina. Tampons are inserted inside the vagina to soak up the blood before it leaves the vagina. Tampons have a string that hangs outside the vagina, and you pull this to remove the tampon.
Don’t flush sanitary towels or tampons down the toilet. Wrap them in paper and put them in the bin. Most women’s toilets have special bins for sanitary products.
There are different kinds of towels and tampons for different blood flows (light, medium and heavy). Use whatever you find most comfortable. Try different kinds until you find one that suits you. You might need to use different kinds at various points during your period. You need to change your towel or tampon several times a day.
You’ll find instructions in the packet on how to use them. Sanitary towels and tampons are available in pharmacies, supermarkets, and some newsagents and petrol stations.
There’s a life-threatening infection called Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), which affects around 20 people in the UK (men and women) every year. It’s not known why, but a significant proportion of cases occur in women who are wearing tampons, particularly highly absorbent (‘heavy’) ones.
If you’re worried about anything to do with periods or want more information, talk to an older woman, such as your mum, big sister, the school nurse or a teacher. Your doctor, or a Unity clinic can also help.