Your period story matters. It matters because, in a world that profits off of our shame, when we speak out about how we experience something as natural as menstruation, we’re telling society that we will not be quiet. Whether your story is one that has caused you pain or one that you cherish, telling it will help heal all of those who have been shamed for bleeding.
I gathered up some women who could recall the first time they got their period and asked them to share their stories. The words they shared offer just a peek into what it’s like to get your first period. Read on and be inspired!
Story from Samantha, 28
So, I was at a Cleveland Indians baseball game with my dad and uncles. I had to go to the restroom and my dad walked me there. I went into the stall and I immediately knew something was wrong. Why was there blood in my panties? Why was my stomach hurting? After I cleaned up as much as I could and stuffed my pants with toilet paper, I was ghost white when I went out to meet my dad. I told him I was bleeding. He, being a dad, twirled me around to see where. I told him and he panicked. Using a payphone, he called my mom and then rushed me home.
My mother put me in the bath and called the doctor. Why was I bleeding?
I had started my period. I was 7 years old. I had no ideas this would happen to me. Real quick, I got the run down. No, I wasn’t dying. Yes, this would continue happening to me. Yes, I was still a little girl. No, seriously, I wasn’t dying.
Looking back, it’s a funny story to tell but, at the time, it was pretty traumatizing. It definitely was scary. I was humiliated, seeing as I was so young. I was scared of tampons in the summer months so, when I’d have my period (though I had it sporadically - I never knew when it was coming for at least 3 years), pool parties and waterparks were out. I hated my body. I felt betrayed. My mom asked me not to talk about it with my closest friends, since they hadn’t had “the talk” yet.
I wish periods, back in the 90’s, were less taboo. I wish it was easier to talk about. I don’t necessarily wish I didn’t start that early, though. I feel like it had shaped my views on my body, good and bad. I believe in education and giving back. I don’t want another girl to be scared or not have what they need. I try to give back and donate pads, tampons, and sex ed books to women’s shelters when I can. It’s not much but it’s all I can do. For now.
Dad Does Not Know Best
Story from Jessica, 27
I grew up with just my dad and brothers so, when I started my period for the first time, I had no one to talk to about it. I had lied to my friends about having started it before. So I calmly came home from school, told my dad to sit down, and then said, “Dad, I need you to take me to the pharmacy so I can speak to a lady”. He started laughing and asked why. “The outer layer of my uterus is shedding and I need to speak to a woman”.
I think it always made me feel like it was something you couldn’t talk about. It wasn’t until I was more mature and had older female friends that I became more comfortable and relaxed about the whole thing.
A Love Hate Period Relationship
Story from Vanessa, 34
My period was always irregular. The first time I bled for almost three weeks. Then a few months went by before having another period. Again, it would last for 2 to 3 weeks, then again, a few months would go by before getting another one. I dreaded it - the pain was difficult to endure but the heavy flow was even harder to deal with.
As I started being sexually active, I had a love hate relationship with my period. I would love when it came because it meant I wasn’t pregnant. I would hate having aches and feeling dirty. After having children, my feelings remained the same. I currently have an IUD, which has eliminated my period.
In regards to my girls, I talk to them about it at an age appropriate level. To be honest, I don’t have a real plan. I feel like I want to follow their lead with open communication, support, and encouragement as they need it.
The Sweetest Period
Story from Jenny, 34
So, I was a late bloomer and I remember being in 7th grade dance class and all the girls were talking about having their periods and i hadn’t yet. I felt like an outcast, especially when they asked me if I’d gotten mine yet. Then, a few weeks later, I was walking home and stopped at my mom’s school to use the bathroom and there it was - a small, quarter-sized amount of red. I was so happy. I ran to my mom’s class and told her and I remember her being so happy for me and she took me shopping for a new “grown up lady” outfit. Such a special memory for me.
Do you remember your first period? We’d love to hear about it!
I was 11 years old and on holiday with my family in a caravan. I wasn’t embarrassed as such, I’d certainly never been taught to be, but I hadn’t really had any conversations with my family about it either and I only knew of one other girl at the time who had started during primary school.
I came on during the night too, while I was asleep. I was actually having a nightmare when it happened and I woke up to find blood on the sheets. So I had no choice but to call my mom in to tell her, and of course everyone else in the caravan heard.I hated it. I felt so ill and out of it. It wasn’t so much that it was painful, it was just a really alien sensation. I even think we ended the holiday a day early because I was so uncomfortable. I was trying to act normally but wearing a period pad for the first time felt like I was walking around the seaside with a piece of sandpaper between my legs and even though I knew it was a natural process, it was still a very unnatural sensation to feel myself bleeding and try and act like nothing was happening. I resented the fact I’d started having periods. I’d already noticed acne, weight gain, severe mood fluctuations and had to start wearing bras…which I still hate doing to this day. Getting my period was a sure sign that it would now happen without fail, every month for most of my life. And unfortunately, 17 years on, my relationship with it has not improved much. I still get a lot of pain, usually get thrush either before or after my period, get severe fatigue and mood swings that seem to get worse and worse every time. I’ve been to several doctors but everyone tells me its normal. I’ve even had scans done to check various bits and bobs out. I get very envious of the lucky few who don’t seem to have many, or any of the same problems or symptoms. I wish I had a more positive relationship with my body but I truly dread that time of the month.