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First period stories by 5 women from diverse backgrounds showcase how differently they have experienced this life change.
Menarche, the first period is one of the biggest milestones in a woman’s life, but first period stories can be very different for each woman.
This milestone, being universal in the majority of women marks the beginning of her reproductive cycle. On average, women spend 3000 days of their lifetime menstruating, and when people say, the first impression is the last impression, holding to the thought of how it was the first time, that is where this article would help you envision menstruation through multiple lenses. Whether you get your period or not, you can play a crucial role in breaking the silence around menstruation.
Let’s hear 5 such first period stories from different geographical locations, which would bring out varied discourses around menstruation.
Shivangi from Punjab
Thanks to a few initiatives taken by a company that sells sanitary products, I already knew about menstruation and what to do and how to do things. The problem was that they showed us some water absorbing pad, so I thought that I would just pee a lot – more than usual, during a specific time of my life. I didn’t know that it’s a lifetime subscription thing.
But the day my periods started I was terrified that I was bleeding, that too from down there. I called my mother for help, and she told me about periods, how normal it is to bleed, and how this works.
Prisca from the Lepcha community, Sikkim
I was 10 years old when I had my first period. It was on a hot Sunday afternoon, in the middle of a jungle.
I was at a boarding school then and as usual, the school had taken us out for a walk after our lunch. I’d carried a jar with me to catch baby fishes but I was not feeling excited. I felt drowsy, heavy, tired, and had a slight discomfort in my belly as if I was being poked with a sharp object from inside. I felt something wet between my legs and thought I’d peed in my pants, I was so embarrassed. I tied my jacket around my waist and kept quiet. I walked very slowly, trying my best not to get caught.
By the time we’d reached the school gate, I felt exhausted, sticky, and wet more than ever. When I told my friend, she said ‘I hope you’re not the next in line’. When she got her periods, she had told me that the blood came ‘from a hole between the legs’, and bragged that she was finally a woman now. I had wanted to be a woman too. And now, the day had come, it was happening; I was finally going to be a woman.
I locked myself inside the common bathroom and checked my panty. Instead of red, crimson blood, I had thick stains of brownish, almost black fluid on my panty and my inner thighs. I thought I was sick with a disease, I started crying. I wasn’t going to be a woman, I was going to die. I went to the school matron at full speed, to tell her about my ‘problem’. She reassured me that it was normal. I was comforted then, even though I didn’t feel great.
Vishakha from Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh
My first period story was a funny one. I was in Grade 7 and I clearly remember the date. It was April 1st and my entire family was watching the IIFA Awards. I clearly remember leaving for a washroom break. I went inside, noticed that I was bleeding. I called my mother, my sisters-in-law, and said aloud, “I’m bleeding. Could you give me a pad?” It being April Fool’s day, they wondered how I had got my periods at such an early age and started laughing.
It was absolutely painless. I did not panic because my school organized a workshop on menstruation when we were in 5th grade and we knew that if it happened in school, we could go to the school sickbay anytime.
Amanda from Stuttgart, Germany
I honestly do not remember but I’m sure it came late. I was not really surprised, I was waiting for it to happen. I had talked to my mom about it before and we had all kinds of sanitary products at home. My grandma had a book called, ‘Women’s Body Explained’, where a professor in some kind of submarine cruised through a woman’s body, which was pretty funny! She first read it to me when I was four. I heard about periods way early but understood it a bit later.
Sugandha from Guwahati, Assam
My first menstrual experience was something I wasn’t physically prepared for, to be honest. I knew the whats and hows, but I was still not prepared to feel how I felt when I saw so much of blood loss.
My community celebrates this milestone by following some rituals like marrying us to a banana tree and they consider it the first marriage of a girl’s life (Tuloni Biya). We are made to wear Mekhela Sador (traditional saree) and have boiled food till the wedding and it’s considered a bad omen if we looked at any male during that time. It was quite an overwhelming experience for me as I didn’t really think it would such a big deal but in retrospection, I see why it was the way it was.
The first period can be met with either celebration, panic, or distress, and one of the major reasons is the lack of accurate understanding of menstruation. Because menstruation matters, striking up a conversation, sharing stories and asking questions, or simply just putting it out there matters too!
Image source: a still from the film Period. End of Sentence.
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Shreya is working as a Content Head at Sachhi Saheli, a Delhi-based organization. Her
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