Most women remember what it was like to get their first periods — whether it was traumatic and seemingly out of the blue, or totally expected and normal. And while we may *hope* that most girls are prepared for this life-changing event, a new study has found that almost half of girls had no idea what was happening to them when they got their first periods.
To that we say: OMFG!!!
The survey, from U.K.-based Betty for Schools, found that 47% of women felt unprepared or were unsure what to expect when they first began menstruating, and more than one-third of women surveyed said they felt a sense of shame about menstruation.
The researchers surveyed more than 2,000 women across the U.K., age 16 and up, so it’s possible that today’s girls have more information about menstruation than their mothers and grandmothers did. But, as Betty for Schools points out, the English government only just made sex and relationship education mandatory in all schools — which is not even the case in the U.S. In fact, just 24 states and the District of Columbia require sex ed in schools, so half the country may be getting inadequate or no sex education at all.
According to Betty for Schools’ research, about two-thirds of women said the sex ed lessons they’d received focused only on the biological aspects of menstruation — so, why it happens and how it happens in the body — but didn’t offer much practical advice, such as how to use a tampon or what to expect throughout your cycle.
So let this survey be a lesson to educators, parents, friends, aunties, uncles, and people everywhere who have young girls in their lives — answering questions honestly and completely, and speaking openly about menstruation, can prevent a whole lotta trauma down the road. Let’s be a part of the change!