Periods and flushing?
Sarah replies:Hi, I'm 14-years old and I have a few questions. 1) OK so I first got my period about a year and a half ago, but they come really randomly. When is it probably going to develop a pattern? 2) So last night I had an itch, so I scratched my vagina. A few minutes later I realized that about a half hour earlier, when I went to the bathroom, I flushed the toilet AFTER I washed my hands. Earlier that day, there was a teenage guy over my house that probably did use that bathroom. I also live with my teenage brother and he always uses that bathroom. Is it possible that I could have gotten an STD or even pregnant? I'm really scared and I'm freaking out right now.
It's really hard to say when your periods might develop a discernible pattern. In general, we would probably expect to see that happen within the first 3-5 years of menstruation. However, that is a very general guideline because there are a lot of other factors that could be at work as well. Your body is growing and changing very quickly during puberty. For example, if you are underweight or very physically active as a teen, then your menstrual bleeds may be more likely to be irregular. Also, some people who menstruate never develop consistent cycles or may not do so until later in life. For instance, my natural cycles never developed a regular pattern until I was into my 20s. While I know the irregularity is annoying, it is probably just a fact of life that you're going to have to deal with for a while. For now, I'd suggest just making sure you are always prepared for your period to arrive. (So make sure you have pads, tampons, or whatever your preferred protection is with you, etc.) You may want to check out the following articles for more information:
- On the Rag: A Guide to Menstruation
- Get With the Flow: All About FAM
- Not Everything You Wanted To Know About Puberty (But Pretty Darn Close)
In terms of your second question, sperm are pretty delicate things. They only survive about 20 minutes in an inhospitable environment. So the likelihood that somebody would have ejaculated on part of a toilet, you touched that later, then touched yourself half an hour later and caused a pregnancy is not an issue. Something like that is just not going to happen. Similarly, it seems highly highly unlikely that you would need to be worried about an STI from this contact either. Anytime we're touching or scratching a part of us (whether that's your genitals or your arm or whatever) without washing our hands first, we might have reason to be concerned about the general germs that we come into contact with. Every surface we touch likely has germs on it, we come into contact with those things everyday. In fact, I bet that between touching that toilet handle and touching your vulva, you probably touched many other things and surfaces as well! While it's generally advisable to wash your hands to prevent spreading those germs that you come into contact with daily, there's no reason to have extra worry over this situation.