Road to Normalizing Period Conversations

Nicole Sanchez


It’s 2021, yet there’s still so much stigma behind those two words. Even though almost half the world’s population experiences, have experienced, or will experience getting their period, for some reason, I still have to carry my purse to the bathroom so I won’t get funny looks when I walk around with my pad on me. So, as a company trying to provide sustainable menstrual pads, we feel as though it is our duty to start this conversation and normalize the topic of menstruation. This idea gave birth to our blog series that we hope will be a platform for womxn to talk about their experiences and struggles associated with menstruation.

As Akanksha Bhatnagar, former University of Alberta Students’ Union President, shares,

“the only way we can remove the stigma around menstruation is being open about its comforts and discomforts. This might lead to some uncomfortable conversations, but it will slowly normalize the discussions around it.”

Often, womxn feel the need to hide being on their period or feel uncomfortable talking about it in front of people, especially men. I, too, am guilty of this. There were a few times when I felt the need to apologize for making the people around me uncomfortable because I brought up being on my period in conversations and times when I let comments like “are you on your period?” slide and laughed it off because I was a little moody. The truth is, talking about periods can get uncomfortable and the feeling of shame might be there sometimes, but it doesn’t have to. It is time that we take a step back and ask ourselves why we are ashamed of a natural bodily process that every womxn experiences and frankly, none of us have control over. It is time we make people comfortable talking about menstruation by getting them used to be uncomfortable. This is the only way we can move forward and eliminate the stigma around menstruation.

In this blog series, we asked a few interviewees questions about their experience when they first got their period. Akanksha Bhatnagar shared:

“I got my period at a very young age; I was in grade 5 (10 years old). I went to the bathroom and I did not know what had happened. I was so confused so I called my mom to come to the bathroom, but she was busy, so it took about 20 minutes for her to come. Meanwhile, my dad tried to help and see what was wrong, but I said “no go away”. Then my mom finally came, and she told me what was happening and described to me that I had gotten my period. The only pads that she used and introduced to me were the overnight pads that were so big for me. The next day, we had gym at school, and I did not feel well enough to do the activity that we were assigned to do so I told my student teacher that I am unwell, and I had just gotten my period yesterday. She did not believe me and told me that I’m too young to get it and that I was lying. I started doubting the fact that I had actually gotten my period, maybe my mom was lying to me? I did the activity and I was so uncomfortable especially because I was wearing this huge pad. Then I told my actual grade 5 teacher and she was much nicer about it and then the student teacher got into so much trouble and had to personally apologize to me and my mom.”

"If you’re a woman reading this, you might resonate with Akanksha’s story, or maybe you had a different experience; nonetheless, getting your period the first time was probably such a confusing time, especially at 10 years old. "


For many of us, our period education likely came from school - a brief introduction to period that is. Perhaps your biology teacher mentioned it during the reproduction unit, or there’s a chance that your Mom, Auntie, or friend mentioned that you would be getting your period as you hit puberty. For Akanksha, her brief introduction came through school. “I remember learning that it’s something that happens, but I had no idea what it meant. Like telling a 10-year old that you menstruate would not make any sense to them. It was super generic; they never explained the whole process in detail which was pretty frustrating.” Additionally, getting her period at such a young age also meant that she was one of the first friends in her friend group who had it. Akanksha shared that, because of this, it took her a few months to tell one of her closest friends.
When asked if her overall experience with getting her period changed since she was younger, Akanksha shared:
“As I got older, I was less ashamed about getting my period. I also try to encourage myself with the idea and I try to encourage my friends to be more comfortable with me in talking about it as well. So, I started to bring up my period casually in conversation like ‘oh I got my period today’ and it made my friend group more comfortable with it especially the women. But for the men at first, they would say things like “ah! no! or ew!” but as I got older none of them ever made a big deal about it. For example, as UASU President, my team was all men and they were always respectful about me bringing it up. Then it never became a bother to them or a barrier for me.”
So if you’re reading this and you’re still uncomfortable with bringing up your period in front of other people, take small steps. It’s okay to talk about it, but if you want to keep it to yourself, that’s okay too. Just know that you should never be ashamed about it and in order for the people around you to become comfortable, they have to overcome being uncomfortable first.
“The only way we can remove the stigma around menstruation is being open about its comforts and discomforts. This might lead to some uncomfortable conversations, but it will slowly normalize the discussions around it.”
Akanksha’s story is one of many. There are so many struggles that come with getting your period the first time and whether you had a good understanding of menstruation prior to getting it or not, I’m sure your experience the first time still brought some confusion. And, not knowing what to expect and when to expect your first period can certainly bring forward many emotions to girls hitting puberty. As Akanksha mentioned, there is a huge gap between period education and what to really expect from it. We are aware of this lack of education - whether in school or at home. This is why we think it’s important to have these conversations, to inform, to educate, and to let young girls know that they are not alone and it’s going to be okay. At the end of the day, getting your period should be celebrated, and it definitely should not be something you are ashamed of. So, if you want to be a part of this conversation, of this movement, connect with us and share your period stories - no matter what it looks like. We’d love to hear it and it’ll be our pleasure to share it!
When asked her opinion on how to de-stigmatize period talk, Akanksha’s advice was simple:
“Shifting your tone to something more positive will also have a huge impact. Because overall getting your period indicates that you are healthy! It’s important to be vocal about it because again this is a regular everyday occurrence for millions and millions of women. The more you can be a personal advocate for yourself and more comfortable with what’s happening with your body and talking about it, you realize how millions of women also feel the same way and you can start a movement.”