Got my first chums (menses) now, what next?
First and foremost, congratulations on arriving at the important milestone at the right time! Secondly, chill, don’t get anxious.
What are the first things to do when you get your first menses?
1. Good Food: Ensure healthy foodstuffs during this time and since your metabolism is on the rise and your body is growing you must ensure healthy energy sources.
Complex carbohydrates e.g. wholemeal chapatti, wholemeal bhakri, unpolished rice, fermented foods
Healthy fats such as ghee and loads of proteins such as milk and milk products
Fish, eggs, pulses, chicken, meat, sprouts, mushrooms
Practice frequent healthy snacking as you tend to get hungry during mid-morning and evenings. A good practice is to start the day with fruits, nuts, and a sumptuous early morning breakfast preceded by a good workout. Mid-morning snacks can be buttermilk or fruits or protein smoothie and sprouts. Have a healthy lunch with vegetables, dals, and salads. Also, drink loads of water.
2. Personal Hygiene: You will now start having over oily skin and will start perspiring (get sweaty) more. Also, there will be hair growth in the pubic region (in the private parts and underarms will start). Shower at least twice and ensure that you don’t use very drying soaps. Keep your body clean and wear clean clothes. Cotton is always preferred. Also, get into the habit of cleaning your underwear separately. Wear loose-fitting clothes for better aeration. Good skin health is maintained with good food, plenty of water, and an exercise routine.
You have an opportunity of gaining a good muscle mass, bone mass, strong ligaments, good posture, and a proper gait in this one year from the time you started your first periods. An increase in height isn’t possible once your bone joints fuse (together the two bones become one solid bone). Of course, your height is an average of heights of both your parents and that’s how you are genetically programmed.
3. Physical Activity: Be active and mobile as a body in motion is always healthy. Have a good routine of walks of at least 4000 steps per day or 200 skips per day.
Add stretching exercises to your workout routine. I love Adrienne personally on YouTube. Do Suryanamskar and other holistic exercises. Combine with Pranayama for at least 10 minutes.
4. Menstrual Hygiene: Use eco-friendly sanitary pads and change them every 4 to 6 hours. Dispose of them properly covered in a paper bag or newspaper. Keep your under-parts such as the urinary opening, vaginal opening (the place from where you menstruate), and the anus (the place from where stools are passed) clean.
At every toilet visit clean your vagina with plain water and mop dry with a tissue or a clean cloth. Keep your private parts clean and do not rub them vigorously.
5. Mental Health and Hygiene: You are young but transiting into adulthood which is a process of approximately 7 to 8 years. This transition helps in the gradual evolution of a young child that is you into a mature healthy adult woman when you hit 20 years of age.
Like how we take care of our physical health our mental health also is important. Your hormones which are bringing about physical growth, your menses are currently on the rise and they tend to swing into erratic levels as they too require some time to stabilize. These swings can make you moody and experience mood swings.
Understand this change within you and take it in its own stride as this is a passing phase. Also in your brain, the very emotional center the Amygdale is a little more dominating making you sad, happy angry and confused, and irrational. The frontal lobe of the brain which brings about maturity, stability of thinking will soon develop and guide you. Understanding these underlying changes within helps us to transit through this phase better:
Develop a good thinking habit
Start writing a diary or a journal
Learn new languages and read good books to improve your thinking
Develop good speaking skills and learn to be calm and happy
Sleep hygiene is very important. Bed early and wake up nearly the Circadian rhythm determines both mental and physical health. Moreover, excess screen-times and abnormal circadian rhythms are harmful. Sleep early and take at least 7 hours sleep and wake up early at least by 6 am. Your ovarian health is determined by good sleep and a happy attitude.
6. Supplements: Start taking good supplements to ensure that you have good iron stores always and good calcium in your bones. Of course, dietary sources are the best but may not reach the daily recommended dose. Start taking:
Dexorange 1 tbsp at night with dinner
Calcium tablet Shelcal HD 12 daily one with breakfast
Things to be avoided:
Junk unhealthy foodstuffs, transfats, excessive sugars, chips, processed foods, alcohol, smoking, coffee, tea, tobacco are a big NA. They cause injury to your cells and make you susceptible to illnesses that can cause stunting of growth. Girls in India are much at risk of developing Polycystic Ovarian Disorder (PCOD) which is a lifestyle disorder. Genetic programming and Asian ethnicity combined with bad eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle are the cause of PCOS/PCOD.
Anxiety, irritability, and anger cause hormonal changes in our body mediated by catecholamines which disrupt your normal hormonal orchestration. This is linked with irregular cycles, obesity, and PCOS.
Don’t sulk or get into depression and don’t have fears about physical changes or bleeding. These all are natural processes of life and understanding them is cool.
Do not suffer pain or ignore heavy or painful menstrual bleeding. Seek help by consulting your mother first and she will guide you to a doctor. Do not use hot water bags for fomentation during menses. Instead, go for light walks, and the pain or cramps if any are eased out. Taking a Meftal spa too is safe but if it’s unbearable pain seek medical advice.
Do not use menstrual hygiene products which are environmentally challenging. Do not use pads for a long time or there can be bacterial growth that can harm you.
Do not become a couch potato. Do not do excessive exercises during menses. Light walks, deep breathing exercises, and stretches are best.
This is a transition phase and look at it as a foundation period to program you to a healthy body and mind. We are now embarking gradually to take part in enriching our society with healthy individuals such as you. Focus on positivity and acquiring good lifestyle skills and all should always be fine.
Love you always!
Dr. Girija Wagh