7 People Share Their First Period Stories
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Ah, remember your first period? You know, that time when your body signaled exciting changes and the gates of adulthood opened up to joyfully welcome you in? *Record scratch* Yeah, no. For many of us, the experience was nothing like a romanticized coming of age tale and a lot more like a personal horror movie (in which we also ruined our favorite pairs of underwear).
Periods shouldn't be scary, but the first time can be unsettling, especially if you weren't adequately educated about menstruation before looking down and seeing drops of blood. For some of us, our first periods came with a lot of questions. For example, what is the blood supposed to look like? How often should you change a pad? Are these kinds of cramps normal? Even as menstruation veterans, some of us still ask questions like this after years of having our periods.
We want to keep having conversations about our periods and normalize the many questions, concerns, and curiosities that come along with them—because menstruation can actually be a pretty amazing thing. We talked with people who menstruate to learn about all sorts of first period stories, from textbook, white-shorts level of embarrassment to some that were even kind of beautiful.
<v ->We have periods,</v>
and guess what, if we didn't
nobody would be here.
<v ->Oooh I was 12 years old</v>
and I had just watched, I think it was like Pocahontas,
and I was like great I'm gonna go be free and fun,
and I go into the bathroom was like oh
freedom and fun is gone from now on.
My mom had put into my mind
once your period comes that's womanhood,
you're there, that's it,
no more fun.
Not traumatizing, I felt prepared,
but still oddly afraid,
like what's happening.
<v ->Like many women it was a surprise.</v>
I think I had my period 10 or 11,
and we went to six flags.
I didn't know when it was coming,
I had on white shorts
and I came on my period,
and of course it's red all over me.
I go to my aunt
and she's like "What's going on?"
And I just put my jacket around it,
and she told me I was gross.
I think a lot of us get that,
like this is gross,
oh we're not lady like,
we're not feminine so it's like
in that moment she could have comforted me,
she could have said this is what we do,
instead there was shame.
<v ->My first period was when I was 12,</v>
and I was in 7th grade on the bus,
and I was just so confused.
<v ->Oh my God it was a disaster.</v>
I got my period young,
in the 5th grade.
I knew what a period was,
but I expected for it to be red.
If it's not red than it's not that,
like I'm just dirty.
<v ->Got a pad from the nurse when I got off the bus</v>
and everything was fine.
I didn't know how often am I supposed to switch it out,
how much flow is too much flow,
am I gonna die?
Should I eat more?
Should I drink more?
I just had so many questions.
<v ->I kept getting these really bad cramps,</v>
like I was cramping so bad,
but I don't know why,
you're young, you're dumb,
you don't say anything,
so I just suffered.
<v ->Ooooh, actually that wasn't that bad.</v>
I ran downstairs because I'm a drama queen,
and I'm like mom I need to tell you something.
I wasn't actually panicking,
but I wanted the attention.
<v ->I got my first period when I was 12.</v>
I was in 7th grade.
My mom didn't believe me because she had her period so late,
when she was like 16 or 17.
I told her and she was like are you sure?
Did you drink a lot of cranberry juice or something?
And I was like no I think I had my period.
<v ->I got my first period,</v>
oh my God, I will never forget.
I was 12 years old.
I used to do a lot of theater
and I remember getting home from tour or something
and feeling the huge cramping,
getting home and being like oh my God it's here.
I was polycystic, I think I probably still am,
so I would go long periods of time without getting one.
So my relationship to my period was one
when it first came I was excited about it
and then it would sometimes come
and then it wouldn't come.
I've been thinking about this a lot,
just how much that connects me with my mother
and my grandmother,
and a long line of ancestors
and women that have done this.
When you look at your cycle,
it's something that's part of that,
you will see no shame in it.
I think that it's just the most incredible thing,
the most perfect design.