Blogger Luci takes time out from all things Mooncups to share her feelings regarding her first period.
My memory of when my first period started is a little hazy I must admit. I do, however, remember bits of it and will do my best to collate these memories. I do remember that it was a week before my 12th birthday.
It was just a regular, standard call of nature to do a number one in the comfort of my very own home. As I sat down on the toilet I noticed something that had never been there before – dark red stained knickers. Alarm bells went off in my head.
I quickly finished my business as usual and hurried up to my bedroom where I had a small stash of various sanitary towels for this very moment. I just took one and figured out how to stick it to a change of knickers and that was it. There I was with this new alien feeling and what felt like a nappy in my pants. At this moment, I vividly remember sitting on the edge of my bed feeling like it was the end of the world. ‘This is horrible’ I said to myself.
I went downstairs and quietly sat on the sofa in the living room. I knew my mum was buzzing about somewhere in the house and just waited for her to come in. A few minutes of trying to pep myself up to announce what had happened, which felt like I was about to admit to something terribly shameful and naughty for some reason, Mum came into the room and I quietly said ‘My period has started’.
My mum stalled mid walk and said ‘Oh….School has told you all about it right?’. To which I replied ‘Yes.’ I don’t remember what happened after this – I’m guessing mum would have quickly told or shown me where her drawer of sanitary towels and tampons were but I think the trauma of the above has wiped out the memories of what happened after.
I went to an all-girls school and a couple of years before the above we were having one of our fortnightly PSHE (Physical, Sex and health Education?) lessons which introduced us all to puberty and menstruation.
I vaguely remember a TV on wheels being pushed to the front of the class and some sort of animation video of a diagram of a womb and cervix. At the end of the video we were each given a plain plastic jiffy bag which contained a few sanitary towels of various sizes, a tampon holder/storage case and a leaflet of information. Most of the contents were emblazoned with one of the biggest UK sanitary towel manufacturers (ah, the sweet smell of commercialism – gotta get ‘em while they’re young – 9 years old in this example!).
About a year later, a couple of my friends at school had started their periods. One of these girls started at school and had a teacher on hand to support her. So before my time came I had a rough idea of what to expect and do – but I had no idea what sort of emotions and feeling I would go through.
Paranoid or am I?
For a good few years of menstruating I absolutely detested it. Mainly wearing sanitary towels – I just felt so severely paranoid because all you could feel is the sanitary towel, all you could think about was the sanitary towel – Has my sanitary towel leaked? Has my sanitary towel moved from it’s position? Does my sanitary towel smell? Do I smell? Can people smell me or my sanitary towel? Am I going to run out of sanitary towels? Why are sanitary towels so noisy? Why do I have to announce to everyone in the toilets that I’m changing my sanitary towel? Why hasn’t somebody invented quiet sanitary towels yet?!
I started to wear some cotton shorts every time I had my period thinking it acted like an extra protection barrier between the outside world and my sanitary towel. This only made my paranoia worse – are people wondering why I have shorts on under my clothes? Has my sanitary towel leaked and now stained my shorts and my clothes?
I will be forever grateful that I was handed a freebie bag at school at 9 years old. This meant I was physically prepared – I didn’t have to ask anyone to get me a towel and I didn’t have to run around frantically trying to find one. The moment my period started was truly my own private moment for those few minutes. I didn’t have to ask anyone to intrude into my private moment.
I felt a little sorry for the girl who started her period at school – there were other girls in the toilet and a teacher got involved. I remember the scared to death look in her face during her moment which I am sure she would have much preferred to have experienced privately or in the comfort of her on home.
I do wish my mum had spoken to me more about these womanly things. I am not angry at her at all – I am sure she probably had a terrible experience when she started her period. However, if we had had an open and relaxed conversation about periods the emotional trauma would be less, well, traumatising. This goes for the general consensus on periods – there definitely needs to be more open conversation about it to strip away the taboo and shame of even just talking about it!
I am 30 years young now and being a menstrual cup and cloth pad fan I also wish we were educated about reusable products at 9 years old too. I dread to think of all the waste I’ve created using throwaway products and wonder if I may have been a more confident young lady if I knew about the alternative options to towels and tampons.
So, go ahead and speak to a female friend or family member, old or young, about periods. Let’s open a conversation about periods.