May 28, 2018 • Constance Uwase
In honor of Menstrual Hygiene day.
Our Blog today is a collection of stories of woman sharing their experience having their periods for the first time.
This is a topic that people has to be comfortable speaking about it needs to be destigmatized.
Though some stories might be different from what you went through,we have all been in almost the same situation.In one way or another.
THE LATE VISITOR
It felt like a nightmare. At the time, I didn’t think it’s a celebration of womanhood. I was such a late bloomer and got my period at 17 years old. I was naturally squirmish so the day it happened I soiled my jean shorts. I tried to wash them and it wouldn’t come off. I went to the back of my mum’s plantation and hid the shorts because I didn’t want to ever see them or wear them again and I also didn’t want my mum to see such a nasty site. However, she caught me out and was happy( ” ewwww”). I then started wearing pads but the horrible second leg to this period story is that I started experiencing the worst cramps ever( my mum used to suffer the same she told me). I got the worst dysmenorrhea ever and I couldn’t leave the house. I was taking painkillers and the experience was very displeasing . In addition, I had such a bad hormonal imbalance and would get moody and mean to my sisters and everybody around me.
Flash forward, I later found some coping mechanism which was walking,sports,and swimming. This helped me a lot because it was a lifestyle change. I also juiced a lot and it helps me a lot with the pain and supplementing my body. I now have no pain but I am also more used to it. I guess what I can tell people out there is to just accept and embrace it because acceptance is the first step and the rest will be a walk in the park….Phew, am a tough girl.
– Bella ,Age:32 Southern Province ,Rwanda
MOM’S HELPING HAND
I had my first periods when I was close to turning 14. I remember that a lot of my friends had already had their periods and I was wondering what was up with me. Interestingly, growing up, my mom told me first about periods around 8 or 9 years of age and as a tomboy I remember laughing at her first. My thought process was: “You’re trying to tell me that bleeding once a month (from a place that at that age I was even afraid of saying) is a normal thing for all women?” No thanks, mom. I will stick to my tomboy ways and mentally suppress the arrival of those god forsaken PERIODS. Fortunately, by the time I had my first periods, I knew more about the female body and reproductive health and understood that no mental superpowers would ever be enough to suppress periods from happening and that they were in fact a symbol that my body is okay and healthy.
I remember that as soon as I saw the blood stains on my underwear, I went directly to my mom because I felt it had to be periods for sure. My mom was very nice and supportive. She was looking at me in awe as well. I think she was probably having that whole my daughter is now a woman speech playing in her head but she did not share with me (Thank God). She showed me how to put on a pad and said I’ll need to change it to prevent leakages (say what now??) and for hygiene. For the first three hours, every 10 minutes, I would go to the bathroom to check on the leakage situation. My mom found this to be hilarious. I did not have bad cramps like my experienced friends in the domain told me about it. My mood was also pretty normal, I had expected to become annoyed at everything in life when I got my periods. Instead, I felt the same way albeit slightly tired. All in all, I would say that it was a good experience for me. I was at home and had my amazing mom show me the ropes on pads 101. Also, the blood was not too much for this first cycle so no leakage trauma.
– Mellisa ,Age:28 Bujumbura,Burundi
THE BODY FUNCTIONING NORMALLY
I’ve had my period at 12. Luckily, I was from the shower and boom I saw the first drop! I wasn’t shocked at first because I had already studied it perhaps, but I didn’t know it came at such a tender age. It took me about 3 years to perfectly manage this new change in my life, the hygiene and all possible items I needed to use to enhance it, thanks to the phenomenal queens that helped understand better throughout.
Menstruation is just okay when you’re clean, hygienic, other than that it can be a nightmare.You don’t want to be carrying a pungent smell, especially that of periods. I hope you all celebrate this day in style! Embrace your feminism with pride!
– Cecile Age:19 years Kampala,Uganda
I discovered my first period at school during a break between classes. I was 12 years old and had been anticipating this event because my best friend got hers a few months earlier. I remember feeling a mix of confusion (is this really happening?), embarrassment (I really hope I don’t have a stain on my pants), and relief (my body was changing like everyone else’s!) I had a few small panty liners in my backpack to use but remember feeling very nervous because I wasn’t sure how if they would be sufficient, especially because I had an activity after school and wasn’t going to be able to go home until later in the evening. I went to the bathroom every hour to double-check but it was very light bleeding. Towards the end of the day I was able to ask a female teacher I trusted for a pad and she gave me something bigger to use. Wearing a pad felt very awkward and uncomfortable at first but it alleviated my stress about staining my clothes.
When I got home to talk to my Mom about the experience she was proud that I handled it so well. Earlier in the year she had given me a book called ‘The Care and Keeping of You’ that discussed the changes that would be happening to my body during this time of life. I read it many times and really appreciated having the information in advance so I could be prepared and not surprised by these changes. We discussed together that tampons may be a better option for me because I was very active with sports. Also that sometimes over time you feel more symptoms like cramping, fatigue and increased emotional responses. All of these things happened eventually and it made me feeling better knowing that my Mom, friends and girls everywhere were experiencing similar things.
–Allen Age:28 Years California,New York
THE RED STAIN
I got my period when I was 8th grade for the first time. I woke up and there was blood and I didn’t know what was happening. It was very confusing, I told my mum who made it a little bit easier. She gave me a pack of Always pads and explained how to use them. However, I didn’t get my second periods for about a year which made it all even more confusing.
But by the time my second period came I had learnt more and i knew what was going on.
–Louise Age:22 Nairobi,Kenya
The first day of my period,I was so scared.
It was around class hours I went to the bathrooms and I saw a small stain on my cute floral panty and it immediately felt like a nightmare. I didn’t want to think about it so I went back to class but I couldn’t concentrate. I was also afraid to tell my friends because I felt embarrassed and did not want anyone to know. After a while, I went back to the bathroom and the stain was bigger. I took toilet paper and wrapped it and put it on my panties to keep them from getting stained more.
I could not wait to go home. However, on that day, I had lunch at my aunt’s place. There, I was still too embarrassed to tell anyone. I was anxious about what people would think of me. Instead, I threw away the soiled toilet paper and replaced it with another one. After lunch, I went back to school and continued experiencing this uncomfortable day. I was grateful for toilet paper though!
When I got home in the evening, I was still ashamed and I did not tell anyone. I knew where we kept pads in the bathroom and got one. I looked at the instructions and managed to put a pad on well. The periods lasted for two days and I did not tell a soul not even my closest friends. Now, in hindsight, I realize how important it is to talk to young girls about periods. Specifically to let them know that periods are not shameful. I could have benefited from this conversation.
–Solange Age:22 Maputo,Mozambique
All women and girls should have full access to all menstrual products and information they need to take care of themselves.
30% of Girls drop out of school due to lack of proper menstrual care.
There is serious social Stigma and discomfort in store when women purchase menstrual Hygiene products.
Menstrual Hygiene is an important talk to have with young girls,all women should break the silence and speak about this freely.
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