Last year I received some amazing stories from some beautiful followers about periods, and I knew I had to share. Well, this week I got my first period in about 16 months and I thought, "this is the bloody time".
Let's talk stats. I ran some period polls through my Instagram and only 35% said they felt prepared for their first period. Whether it was mental preparation or physical - that is something we can offer the next generation!! 42% said they told their mum, dad or carer when they first got their period. I fell in that 58% that kept it quiet - and I had no idea I was part of a majority doing that!
Heavily pregnant and hormonal when you guys voted on these polls, I couldn't help but flash forward a decade or so and imagine my little girl feeling confused and embarrassed while looking down at her blood stained knickers and feeling like she couldn't come to me.
But so many of these stories inspired me. Each generation gets better at talking and sharing, and making taboo subjects more and more normal.
I'm not alone. So many responses came to me with ideas on how we can empower the next generation of period getters.
Let's make a long story slightly shorter - here's my period story. From 10 to 32 - geez that's a long time.
At 10 1/2 I got my period. I was in year 6. I remember knowing what it was, but was utterly in denial that it had happened to me. I remember feeling embarrassed and didn't talk about it with my friends or even my mum. I was in denial for a couple of cycles - which were luckily very light. I struggled with tampons and used pads (which I hated. And I remember being terrified of someone hearing me change my pad at school. For the record I went to an all girls high school. That means that the girl in the cubicle next to me had to go through the same thing. But that didn't occur to me.)
I had terrible period pain as a tween and got put on the pill by a specialist. I skipped my period frequently. Too frequently. This was actually advice from the specialist that I could skip my period if I had something important on. A teenage and early 20s version of important probably doesn't really line up with medical definition.
As a teen I started using tampons but was still mortified on the daily about blood leaking onto my school dress. Even when I didn't have my period I wouldn't sit on my dress when I sat down. If you think an all girls school would be a supportive environment for accidental leakage - think again.
My late 20s come and I'm now pretty comfortable talking about my period. Vagina, blood, tampon - all words I can say out loud in a sentence now. I decide to become more environmentally conscious and start using period undies and cups. Then we decide "hey, let's have a baby". 2 1/2 years later - A LOT of irregular periods later, PCOS diagnoses, some medication and we fall pregnant.
Fast forward to now, 8 months post partum and Aunty Flo is back from her extended vacay.
Enough about me, these stories are much more interesting. I loved reading them. I decided just to include parts of the stories to convey the plethora of experiences out there. I took so much from these period getters' stories - I'm sure you will too.
"I got my period when I was seeing Shrek 4 at the movies...and now seeing Shrek still makes me low key anxious" - Anonymous.
"My very British mother literally handed me a box of tampex with the applicators and said, 'take that. Read the instructions. Off you go'." - Nikki, 33
"I got period presents because it was Thursday late night shopping. I got a teddy bear and a camera . I had 3 days off school to get used to using pads" Lily, 23
"I didn't tell my mum. We had never really spoken about it" Sara 38
"I was afraid my mum would tell everyone and it was the supreme most embarrassing thing at 12" Jess, 31
"Everyone in my family got a small pendant of the female symbol to celebrate" Rebecca, 32
"My mum was so excited for me and took me out for afternoon tea because I'd become a woman" Anonymous
"My mum bought me my first box of pads and we never spoke about it again" Bec
"Dad caught me the next morning in tears washing blood out of my sheets, made my bed (with a towel) told me to go back to bed, finished washing my sheets, went to the shop and bought a massive bag of ALL the products and some new undies ... Dad got it right" - Anonymous
"I've always stressed and dreaded leaking, ever since my early experiences" Anna, 29
"My mum never talked to me about periods before I got mine, even then she just pointed me to the sanitary pads." Anne, 40
Love from myself and 11 other wonderful humans who shared their period stories with me.
Please note. The image of the pads and glitter is not my own. It's from Women's Health Magazine.
The other images are of myself and Kristy and Mandi wearing my Bloody Brilliant tee I released in 2019.