Ahh, menarche. It’s a beautiful moment that signals the beginning of our bodies’ maturation, and prepares us for our new lives as adults.
A first period will happen any time between 11 and 15 for most people* (though some will get theirs earlier or later, due to genetic or environmental reasons, including life just not being fair). That means right around middle school or the beginning of high school, which were not, if you recall, the easiest time to be alive.
While usually menstruation makes its mark soon after breasts, armpit hair and a growth spurt that makes the square dancing unit in gym class extra awkward, even the most well-prepared pubescent might find themselves, well, unprepared for what getting their first period is actually like. We asked around the office to get a sense of how Tips For Healthy Living employees first reacted to their new monthly visitor
First Period: 14
I remember being super uncomfortable about the whole thing. When I went home from school that day to tell my mom, the first thing she did was slap me on the arm and then she said congrats. I never really thought twice about it, but recently realized it’s a Jewish ritual.(It was a light slap don’t worry!) Most people would probably think, ‘what a relief to joke about the situation’ but I remember that annoyed me even more. After working for Tips For Healthy Living, I might be too comfortable talking about my period at this point….I’ve come a long way.
First Period: 13
I was “ready”, watched the SexED video in school and I knew what was coming… but I wasn’t prepared to receive my period, in summer, wearing white shorts. I just went to pee when i saw my pants and flipped! I shut myself in the bathroom, all shaky, and yelled for my mom. She gave me a pad and cried of happiness (and started giving phone calls to everyone).
Then is when i learned that blood goes away with cold water – and that you could receive presents on your first period, yay!
First Period: 11
I thought I was dying! I didn’t tell my mom – just freaked out and hid my shorts in the laundry. Obviously she found the stained laundry. My mom is Russian and I don’t think she has ever talked to me about my period. She just gave me pads and let me read the instructions to figure it out on my own.
First Period: 13.5
After moving into my older sister’s room when I was 11, I found a book on puberty that my mum ‘suggested I should probably read’ and thus began impatiently waiting for my period quite early. I didn’t end up getting it until I was in 7th grade (which was still elementary school in Canada, so I was terrified of someone catching me with a bulky pad in the bathrooms). Even though I knew what it was, I got super emotional and was crying when I told my mum, who didn’t know why I was being so dramatic – she told me to ‘buck up!’ Oddly, I only got the one that year, and then it was maybe 6 more months when I was safely in high school that I REALLY got my period – and discovered the horrors of cramping and leaking.
First Period: 14
All my friends started their periods not long after that oh-so-embarrassing week in 5th grade where we learned about the joys of puberty, but I was a bit of a late bloomer. After a few years of hearing about everyone else’s cramps, PMS, and favorite brand of tampons, I was desperate to get mine and finally “join the club.” In preparation for the big day, I stole a pad from my sister’s stash and carried it around in the tiny zipper pocket of my backpack for way longer than was sanitary… just in case. When my first period finally arrived, I was excited in a way that I now find amusing – I think I must have told every girl at school the good news.
First Period: 12
I was the second person in my group of friends to get it so everyone was jealous. I was fairly prepared but I was really embarrassed because I overheard my mum telling my dad that I had gotten ‘it’ and he absolutely didn’t want to hear about it. Also, I was too scared to use anything but pads for my first 2 years, meaning I had to stop my lifeguard training, which I’m still upset about.
First Period: 10
I remember being relieved when I got my first period. I was an anxious kid and I’d been feeling off all day, my best friend was over and suddenly I hated her plus I had a sore stomach and headache, I thought maybe I was dying. So late in the afternoon when I sat down on the toilet and saw red I felt relief.
I’d long known about periods because in Australia tampons came in little boxes with Liberty print-like floral patterns. I’d been obsessed with my mum’s tampon boxes for years and she’d never shied away from telling me what tampons were. In fact, she’s gotten a call from my kindergarten teacher one year after I’d told the entire class about the ‘tampons’ in the aquarium (they were tadpoles).
My mum showed me how to use a pad (to my great disappointment; I was hoping to get my own tampon box straight away). My mum left me in the bathroom and when I came out she was on the phone to my dad’s secretary telling her I had my period and my dad needed to call back ASAP. I remember being very aware in that moment of something changing… it was worthy of urgent phone call, I felt embarrassed adults were talking about my body and suddenly I wasn’t so sure that periods were just about pretty boxes.
First Period: Around 13
I was lucky enough to get my first period when I was at home – and to share the bathroom with my older sister, which meant I had everything I needed on hand. My school had prepared me for this moment over and over, so I am happy to say it went smoothly and without panic. To be honest, the thing I remember the most is my mom hugging me when I told her.
Please note that advice offered by Tips For Healthy Living may not be relevant to your individual case. For specific concerns regarding your health, always consult your physician or other licensed medical practitioners.