First Period Stories
As time passes, the average age of a first period is becoming increasingly younger and younger. Many menstrautors have been documented to have started their first period as early as the tender age of eight. Though rare, this recent development calls on us to educate our young ones on the value of good menstrual hygiene, sustainable practices, and understanding the issue of period poverty.
Recently, I reached out to a couple of our customers, inquiring about their first period story. Once again, I am deeply thankful to those who chose to share their stories for the benefit of million others:
“They tell you you get your period at the same age as your mom. And that’s exactly what happened. I was 13 when I got my first period and my grandma was visiting us. I’m sure she was happy to witness this big step in my life as the one who helped me raise. Period and menstrual pads had never been a taboo in my house, but still I felt like I knew nothing, not even how to wear it properly. At first, it was not comfortable at all but I learned with time.
Against all odds, I enjoy having my period every month. But I also struggle with PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder) and that’s no fun - but I still choose to ovulate and have a period every month” (Tallitha)
Like Tallitha, I also struggled putting on my first pad. When my period started at the tender age of nine, I was given a pad from my mother with no instruction. And, not even an hour into that day, I already had a huge red stain patch on my uniform! It ended up being the school’s nurse who taught me how to wear a pad properly and I found the entire situation devastating.
Emily, also shared her story below:
“It all started when I was in seventh grade. I was about 13 and I was sitting in class when I suddenly started getting really bad stomach cramps, and I asked to go to the bathroom. I got up to walk to the bathroom when I felt something warm and wet gush into my panties. I rushed to the bathroom to figure out what was happening. When I got there, I discovered that there was blood all over my pants, panties, and legs, and I completely freaked out. For a second I thought I was internally bleeding or something, and it took me a few minutes to put the pieces together and realize I just got my first period. Unfortunately for me, I had already bled right through my light coloured jeans.
My mom was at work, so I didn't know what to do. I called my dad to come pick me up from school, because I didn’t have a change of pants or any period supplies. When we got home, he called my mom and explained the whole situation, and my mom told me about how it was normal to get a period and that lots of people have one. That night, I was supposed to go to a gymnastics practice, but I was too frazzled from the experience to show up, so I had my dad call my coach. He told her about my period, and I felt pretty embarrassed about it. I remember spending the rest of the day in bed, absolutely mortified. However, as I grew more comfortable with myself and my body, I also became more comfortable with having my period. I realized that lots of people have the same experience every month and that I’m not alone” (Emily).
Lastly, another interviewee who has chosen to remain anonymous, got her first period in grade eight and narrates how it happened while she was at school:
“I only discovered it when I had to use the washroom and noticed blood on my underwear. Initially, I was a bit confused, wondering if it was actually a period, but it was. I was lucky that my mom has taught me how to use a pad before, and that my friends were around to give me their pad to use. Still, it was a weird day for me. I still remember going home that day and telling my sister how uncomfortable pads are and how frustrating it is to have to put them on every month now.”
Each menstruator’s period story above is unique to them and them alone, even mine. However, there were some similar identifiable patterns across some of them - for example, the need to encourage transparent and open conversations about menstrual hygiene from an early age. There is never any real symptom for your first period and when it occurs, it is usually at a very unexpected time with little or no preparation on hand.
Here at Ruth, we are ruthlessly working towards ending period poverty, increasing quality menstrual hygiene education, and breaking down social barriers surrounding menstruation. We’d like you to join us in our mission.
It is up to us as a society to open up these conversations early so this knowledge is instilled before the first period occurs rather than after. Doing so would also help reduce the stigma around menstruation and help young menstruators not feel so embarrassed or unprepared about their first period.