Puberty is a pivotal phase in life, which brings many significant changes, both physical and psychological. For girls, this means the start of menstruation. Understanding the menstrual cycle will make this transitional period seem more manageable and less daunting.
Puberty is the passage from childhood to adolescence. It’s the time when your body starts to gradually change and get ready for adulthood. In girls, the process is triggered when the brain and ovaries start producing specific hormones.
Not everyone begins and undergoes puberty at the same time or pace. It’s normal for you and your friends to be in different phases of the process, and that’s all fine and good! Generally speaking, puberty starts between the ages of 8 and 13 and lasts 2 to 4 years.
In addition to menstruation, you will undergo many other changes during puberty. You will start to grow hair on your arms, legs, underarms and pubic area; your breasts will gradually begin to develop; your body will develop more curves (hips, thighs, etc.) and you will get taller.
The menstrual cycle
Every month, your body undergoes the same cycle. This cycle lasts about 28 days, but this varies from one woman to another (generally between 21 and 36 days). It is counted from the first day of bleeding in one month to the first day of bleeding in the next month.
The egg grows in the ovaries and the uterus prepares for pregnancy. Under the influence of female hormones, the lining of the uterus (called the endometrium) becomes thicker with blood and tissue to get ready for the fertilized egg.
The mature egg leaves the ovaries and travels to the Fallopian tubes. This is called ovulation.
A woman’s fertile period (time during which she can get pregnant) can last seven days, since sperm can live up to 5 days and the egg has a lifespan of 24 to 48 hours.
If, during this period, the egg is fertilized by sperm after unprotected sex, it will implant into the lining of the uterus and grow into a baby.
If the egg is not fertilized, the levels of female hormones (estrogen and progesterone) will drop, causing the uterus to shed the endometrium and egg through the vagina. This is what’s known as menstruation.
At first, it’s normal for your menstrual cycle to be irregular. For example, it might not be the same number of days every month and you may sometimes even “skip” a month. It can actually take up to two years for your cycle to become stable.
There are many different products you can use during your period. You’re probably familiar with sanitary pads, tampons and menstrual cups , which you can purchase at your local pharmacy. Comfort, degree of absorption, convenience and discretion are some of the factors to consider when choosing the protection that will be right for you. It’s also important to follow hygiene and care instructions to avoid developing an infection.
Do you have questions about menstruation? Talk to your family pharmacist for answers. And for all your feminine protection needs, drop by your nearest Uniprix sales location.
If you experience very painful periods and your doctor has prescribed a pain reliever in the past, your pharmacist can prescribe* it again. You’ll just need a consultation with him or her to make sure you meet the prescribing criteria.
If you’re interested in this service, you may need to book an appointment. Ask a member of the pharmacy team for more details. Some Uniprix-affiliated pharmacies also offer an online appointment booking service. To locate the store nearest you providing this service, click here.