Once a girl starts puberty she will get her period (also known as menstruation) once a month until she experiences menopause (usually in her late 40s/50s).
This bleeding comes out the vagina and last about 4-7 days.
This is a normal part of puberty for girls.
What happens to my body when I have my period?
The uterus is the reproductive organ that holds the baby and helps it to grow when a woman is pregnant.
Each month hormones are released that make the lining of the uterus (also known as the womb) thicker.
These hormones also release an egg from either the left or right ovary (located on either side of the uterus).
If this egg does not come into contact with sperm (through sex) then you can not become pregnant.
Your period will start approximately 2 weeks after the egg is released as the lining of the uterus sheds and blood flows out through the vagina.
Cramps or pains in the lower part of your abdomen (tummy).
Bloating or swelling in the abdomen
Constipation before your period starts
Diarrhoea when your period starts
Increase in pimples
Feelings that you can not control (grumpy, sad, angry)
These symptoms are temporary and will pass. Some girls/women experience these worse or for longer than others.
A pad is a rectangular piece of material that you can attach to the inside of your underwear. It absorbs the blood as it flows out of the vagina.
Some pads have extra material on the side (called wings) that fold over the edges of your underwear to help hold the pad in place and prevent leakage.
Some girls have periods with heavier bleeding, whereas some girls only experience light bleeding. Pads come in different thicknesses to suit heavier and lighter periods.
Peel the strip underneath the pad and then press it onto the inside of your underwear to attach it.
Once you have removed the pad after going to the toilet, wrap it in toilet paper and throw it into a rubbish bin (or sanitary bin if there is one located in the bathroom).
You should change your pad every 3 - 4 hours to prevent any odours or infections developing.
A tampon soaks up blood from inside the vagina.
Before inserting a tampon remember to wash your hands.
Follow the instructions that come with the tampon packet and make sure you relax as you insert the tampon.
Some tampons come with an applicator that guides the tampon into the vagina. Other tampons are inserted with your fingers.
Tampons have a string attached to the end that stays outside of the vagina. This string is used to remove the tampon.
A tampon should be changed every 4 - 6 hours.
Once you have removed the tampon after going to the toilet, wrap it in toilet paper and throw it into a rubbish bin (or sanitary bin if there is one located in the bathroom).
If you can not find the string, wash your hands and gently use your fingers to locate it within the vagina (don’t worry, a tampon cannot get lost because your cervix will block it from travelling any further).
A menstrual cup is a bell-shaped, silicon cap that can be inserted into the vagina during your period.
The cup catches the blood before it flows out of the vagina.
To insert, fold is in half like the picture below and insert. If inserted properly the menstrual cup should not be uncomfortable and will not fall out.
Follow the instructions here if you are unsure
The cup can be left inside between 6-12 hours depending on the heaviness of your flow though most brands recommend emptying and cleaning every 6 hours to reduce the chance of infection (see TSS section below)
You need to have access to soap and water so that you can wash your hands before you remove and reinsert the cup.
At the end of your cycle, you can wash your cup with warm water and an oil free, unscented soap.
If you wish to boil it, you can do so for 5-10 minutes but be careful to to let the cup get burned as this will make it unusable in the future.
With good care, your cup can last up to 10 years.
Toxic Shock Syndrome
Toxic Shock Syndrome happens when bacteria in the vagina become poisonous.
Low blood pressure
Rash that looks like sunburn
Vomiting or diarrhoea
Muscle aches or weakness
Bright red colouring of the eyes, mouth, throat and vagina
Headache, confusion, disorientation or seizures
Pain in your abdomen (tummy) and back (near your kidneys)
If you notice any of these symptoms contact your doctor immediately.
More information can be found here, scroll to the bottom of the page to find this information in other languages
As you get older, you will likely be attracted to different people in a physical way. This means that you like they way they make you feel and could see yourself becoming closer to them in a sexual way.
Sexuality can mean different things to different people.
It can relate to who you have sex with, how you have sex and also who you are attracted to
Sexual orientation refers to whether you are sexually attracted to women or men, both or neither
Sexual identity refers to whether you feel you are a female or a male, both or neither
Many people identify with being heterosexual (meaning they are attracted to or sleep with members of the opposite sex) but people who are same sex attracted is becoming more socially accepted in Australia.
All sexual orientations and identities are equally valid.
Men who are sexually attracted to other men and they usually identify as being gay.
Women attracted to other women usually identify as lesbian.
Some people are not attracted to others or don’t identify as either a man or a woman (or a boy or a girl).
Some people identify as pansexual, polysexual or asexual and they may choose labels such as ‘queer” or “gender nonconforming” and “gender fluid” to express themselves as they feel most comfortable.
People who feel that their gender is different to the sex they were born with (i.e. boys who feel like they are actually girls, women who feel like they are actually men as well as those who feel they are somewhere in the middle) often identify as transgender.
People who are transgender may or may not have had surgery as part of their transition experience. They do not have to discuss their experience with anyone if they do not want to.
Some people don’t identify on the gender or sexual orientation binary, meaning they don’t feel attracted to or like they fit any of the above descriptions. There are many different orientations.
Some people don’t identify on the gender or sexual binary. This means that they may not feel like they fit any of the above descriptions. This website lists some of the terms they may like to use but they also may prefer not to be labelled at all.
This can be very confusing to you and to the people around you.
It is important to know you have a right to feel how you feel, love who you love and to not be judged for this or discriminated against because of it.
You have a right to feel safe and respected and there are people who will support and care for you if you are having a difficulty accepting or trying to find out what your sexuality is.
If you are exploring your sexual orientation or gender identity, you can find some resources listed below including support groups that can help you through the journey.
This can be a scary and lonely time for many teenagerss who feel there is no one else out there that feels like them.
Sometimes family and friends can make you feel sad or embarrassed about your feelings. It is important that you know that there are people out there just like you.
If you feel unsafe or depressed, please reach out for help at the following services. THey are there to help you through this difficult time. You are not alone.
You may feel ready to have sex with someone when you a teenager. It is OK to wait to see if these feelings pass. If they don’t, you should always practice safer sex. More can be found out about this in Shifra’s Healthy Relationships and Having Sex sections.
Sex should ALWAYS be consensual between both or all sexual partners. This means that you both must give active and affirmative consent, EVERY TIME. If you feel you are being pressured into having sex, you can reach out for help.
If you or someone you know have been victim of sexual assault, or if you would like to know more about what sexual assault and sexual coercion can look like, please refer to the resources below.
If you think that you are experiencing symptoms of a mental illness it is important to talk to your local doctor so that they can refer you on to specialist adolescent mental health services if required.
If you need to speak to someone about mental health issues you can:
Talk to a trusted friend or family member
Speak to your local doctor
Call Life Line on 13 11 14
Call Headspace on 1800 650 890 or go on the website to live chat
Drugs are any chemical substance that can change the way you feel or how your body works.
Drugs can be illegal or legal.
Legal drugs can be bought at chemists and are used for health reasons. You should only take these drugs with advice from a doctor. It is important to follow your doctor’s instructions and take the right amount.
Illegal drugs include cannabis, amphetamines, ecstasy, cocaine and heroin. They are bought “off-market” which means they can not be bought in a store or chemist.
These drugs are addictive and can cause problems in your relationships, maintain a job and saving money. They also affect your physical, emotional and mental health.
If you think you have a problem with drug use, it is important to speak to your doctor so that they can provide you with the right help.
If you are worried about whether you have anxiety or depression you can fill in this anonymous checklist from Beyond Blue. Beyond Blue states:
“This simple checklist aims to measure whether you may have been affected by depression and anxiety during the past four weeks. The higher your score, the more likely you are to be experiencing depression and/or anxiety. Your answers and results are completely confidential and we don’t store any of your information. After taking the test, you can print the results for your records or to give to your GP. These questions relate to how you've been feeling over the past four weeks. Tick a box next to each question that best reflects your thoughts, feelings and behaviour.”
Bring a refugee or asylum seeker, experiencing war, natural disasters, physical or sexual assault/abuse or constant discrimination just for being who you are can affect the way you think, feel and act.
Everyone experiences these feelings differently.
It is OK to feel sad, scared, tired and angry about your experiences
You have right to get better and to not feel this way forever.
Getting help is important to moving on with your life and feeling safe and happy again
Talking to someone,art therapy, exercise and meditation can also help.
Using drugs or alcohol to cope can make things more difficult so it is important to seek help if you are needing these things to get through each day.
There are specialised services throughout Australia to assist people who have experienced trauma and torture in your homeland.
Support for difficult experiences you may have had since arriving in Australia may not be offered by these same services.
Call Lifeline if you are unsure. You can use a TIS interpreter to speak to a trained counselling about any problem that is bothering you
You are not alone. There are people who can help you.
See below to find out how to access these services in your state or territory.
ACT Companion House – Assisting Survivors of Torture and Trauma
02 6251 4550
NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS)
02 9794 1900
QLD Queensland Program of Assistance to Survivors of Torture and Trauma (QPASTT)
07 3391 6677
SA Survivors of Torture and Trauma Assistance and Rehabilitation Service (STTARS)
08 8346 5433
TAS Phoenix Centre – support Service for Survivors of Torture and Trauma
03 6234 9138
VIC Foundation House – Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture (‘Foundation House’)
03 9388 0022
WA Association for Services to Torture and Trauma Survivors (ASeTTS)
Everyone experiences grief and loss at some point in their life.
Everyone copes with this experience differently
It is important to allow yourself time to grieve and heal.
You may feel differently about your experience at different times, so you can try different coping strategies that might work for you including:
Grieving can take time, so be patient as you work through your emotions.
Allow yourself up to 20 minutes each day to grieve by taking time to be alone.
You can think, cry, pray, meditate, write or any other method that helps you.
Write about your feelings and about the person you are grieving.
This can help you relieve stored emotions and show your progress.
Allow yourself to cry and work through your grief. Don’t worry if you can’t cry, because people work through grief differently.
Talk it out:
Grieving can feel lonely, so talk to someone who may have been through a similar experience or consider joining a support group.
Self care is any activity that can help you feel healthy, relaxed and happt.
Making time for self-care regularly allows you to maintain good physical, emotional and mental health.
There are many ways to look after your health even when you don't think you need it. It helps if you can:
Eat well and exercise regularly
Get enough sleep and set aside some time each day to relax
Put time into activities and relationships that make you feel good
Create some short-term and long-term goals to look forward to
Try to deal with problems instead of letting them build up
Be aware that alcohol and drugs can affect your state of mind and relationships.
The New Roots app from Service Settlement International in Sydney, is focused on supporting men who speak Tamil, Farsi or Arabic.
The New Roots Project has been developed to build the mental health of men, aged 18-45, who have recently arrived in Australia on a humanitarian visa. The primary aim is to help men to stay physically, socially and emotionally strong.