Getting your period for the first time can be equal parts exciting and horrifying — because no matter how much you know about menstruation, having blood (and other things) suddenly coming out of your vagina is a peculiar sensation. While ultimately the sign of a healthy, functioning body, periods are mostly just a nuisance; and your first one is a lot to process when you’re a tween just trying to survive middle school.
Whether your first time was awkward and awful or empowering and badass, you’re definitely not alone. Here’s what it’s really like to get your period for the first time, according to the editors at HelloGiggles.
“I got mine on stage during my middle school production of Music Man. So.” — Kathryn Lindsay, Staff Writer
“It was New Year’s Day when I was 12 and we had a membership to the local Holiday Inn’s indoor pool. My mom and uncle were both off work and decided to take me, my sister and my cousin to the pool for a WHOLE day. When I went to the bathroom to change into my swimsuit, I saw the blood and my mom had to get her emergency pad out of her car for me. I put my clothes back on, sat by the side of the pool and read while pointedly ignoring all of my uncle’s questions about why I had suddenly decided not to swim.” — Kayleigh Roberts, Deputy Editor
“I got mine while playing kickball during recess in 6th grade. I thought I had gas. I was wrong.” — Gina Vaynshteyn, Senior Editor
“I got my first period at a friend’s house while getting ready for an eighth grade dance. Luckily, every single one of my friends already had ~experience~ so they gave me directions on how to wear a pad through a shower curtain. Still went to the dance. Still wore a Limited Too denim skirt and blue eyeshadow. Hiding menstrual cramps behind tons of makeup since 2004!” — Christina Wolfgram, Video Producer
“I was backstage in a middle school production of Grease and thought I’d shit my pants.” — Gina Mei, Senior Branded Content Editor
“I got it at my godsister/next door neighbor’s house when I was 12. I saw the blood on my panties and smiled like, ‘WATCH OUT WORLD I AM A WOMAN.'” — Marie Lodi, Staff Writer
“I got my first period the summer before the sixth grade, I think? During summer nerd camp, and I was actually really psyched to see the blood in my underwear. Alas, I was not in any sort of production when I got my period.” — Lily Min, Staff Writer
“My parents had taken us city kids to a working FARM for a long weekend, and the second we hopped out of the mini-van, it had begun. The general store on the farm only had overnight pads, and I had to wear those, and only those, while I learned how to milk cows and corral chickens, for the next three days.” — Rachel Paige, Staff Writer
“Basically, I got mine, told my mom and said, ‘DON’T TELL DAD.’ Ten minutes later my dad came into my room with tears in his eyes saying, ‘YOU’RE A WOMAN NOW!!!’ and hugged me. I was just like, ‘Why is everyone so happy about this.'” — Leonora Epstein, Executive Editor
“It was the fall of seventh grade and I had just had my first kiss the week before and I was convinced that momentous event somehow jumpstarted my period. I was just at home, I went to the bathroom, and… stuff happened. When I told my mom, she put together a basket of pads, Midol, and chocolate frosting, which was my favorite dessert at the time. Yay moms!” — Kit Steinkellner, Senior Writer