When my 11 years old niece got her first period we wanted her to feel good about it than miserable and so we bought her favourite chocolate cake with "1st moon cycle" written on it with icing and asked her to cut it to celebrate this new phase of her life. I believe this was a good first impression than what was mine.
I was secluded from the world.
Every woman has a story to tell about her periods whether she knows it or not.
Here is mine, more in an informative format.
Periods, Menstruation, Menses, That Time Of The Month, Chums, Bloody Days, Monthlies, Moon Cycle and I like to say: Blessed Time Of The Month.
Welcome first-timers. Don't be shy about reading or asking or feeling. I won't scare you by saying welcome to womanhood because it sounds like we have become some old lady all of a sudden. We haven't. Unless we would like to be one, which is cool.
I should write a separate article for the first timers but somehow I feel like imparting all my experience on this topic in one.
Do not be scared if anything that you read here is alarming. Everyone's bodies are different and so are the experiences. Also, various other factors play a role too.
So my dear first-timers. What periods are, you know by now. That's why you are here. Monthly your reproductive system removes some blood via the vagina and you need to be careful about not dirtying your clothes or any other place. It starts when a female's body matures. You may see body hair in new places like underarms, pubic areas, around your tits. It's all normal. Yes, mostly everyone gets it. So don't worry.
You can ask your mom or any elder lady in your life and she would tell you too. Men know about it too but they don't have any personal experience so best to ask women. Oh well! If your gynaecologist, a doctor who specialises in the reproduction system of a female body is a male then he would know a lot too.
What I want to tell you from my side is, to be confident. To take care of yourself. There is a solution to every sort of uneasiness you are feeling because of this new addition in your life. So don't keep it to yourself and tell/ask your mother or anyone who can guide you to the right solution. It is something everyone knows about.
What you need to be careful about is, take your hygiene level to a next level. How you dispose of your sanitary napkin or a tampon is crucial. How you keep your body clean is crucial. How you make sure the toilet you use is clean after your use is crucial too. Because blood if stays for a longer time starts decaying. Bacterias can be formed which can lead to various problems that you already know of. Also, do not be ashamed or shy about trashing your sanitary pads.
Clean your clothes with your hands if they stain and then throw them for wash because you don't want the rest of the clothes to come in contact with the blood.
It would be embarrassing to have stained your clothes in public but then don't think the world has ended and you can't face those people again. You can. And if anyone laughs at you, they need to sort their brains. They need to learn kindness and compassion. They need to grow up. All you need to do is be more careful about how your blood flow is and accordingly change your pads so that you do not stain your clothes.
As a kid, I have stained myself twice in school but teachers were very helpful. I have seen some adults staining their clothes even after they got married and had a child of your age. For some because blood flow changes after few years and for some accidents do happen. So don't feel sorry. Just be more careful on that one.
SCHOOL AND COLLEGE DAYS
I think I am going to say "this is a big one, this is a big one" under every topic. Periods is after all a very important aspect.
I have heard in earlier days girls got their periods a bit later than when girls get it now. Various reasons that I have heard are girl's mature faster because of the times, the content one is exposed to at an early age and also food which is moving away from natural and all the preservatives and chemicals are playing with the bodies. Well, I guess it is an accepted transition so I guess no one would worry about it.
I believe every school arranges a workshop informing children about periods. Kids learning about it with their peers of the same age group is a good practice I think. Plus many times hearing it from a doctor makes it sounds trustworthy. I guess hearing it from parents or a trusted teacher or elder would have similar effects too.
SOME TIPS I can give: Carry an extra panty or bottom in your initial months/years so you are prepared in case staining happens.
Always carry extra sanitary napkins to change over in school or to be prepared if periods come surprisingly on a day you were not expecting them to or even to give it to a friend or a stranger if they need it.
Have some money to be able to buy some pads if at all you don't have pads.
Monsoon time always carry your umbrella and raincoat even if the weather forecast says it is not going to rain. Sometimes it rains!!
Always keep medicine that helps you tame the unbearable pain in your bag.
Sanitiser and wipes for hygiene purposes in case you are going on a school/college trip.
And the biggest tip I can give is: Do not let your confidence or mood go down the hill because someone made a foolish remark or joked about your periods or if your pad pops out from your bag and people see it.
And if someone plays dirty and mocks you for having periods, tell them they wouldn't be born if periods didn't exist.
And honestly, they would grow up later in life if they don't then. So don't burn yourself by what anyone else tells you. Just take care of yourself.
TYPES OF BLOOD ABSORBENTS/ COLLECTORS
In India, in the olden days people doubled and tripled a cloth and used it.
Then came sanitary napkins, tampons and menstrual cups. With the silicon cups, people even can go swimming without having to worry about anything. I love inventions.
See what suits you.
Also, there are these rash creams and oils one can use. But be careful what you apply in that area because it is an open and sensitive area.
EAT HEALTHY AND EXERCISE REGULARLY
I cannot stress enough how important these are. Observing my body's reaction to different foods has helped me. Food that is cooked at my home is usually spicy or hot. My tongue is used to eating it but quite recently I realised my body has been crying due to it.
I use to think eating sweets helped me during periods but actually, I didn't realise I was unknowingly replacing the spicy food with another evil which didn't trouble me during periods at least.
Now I can eat normal home food during my periods making sure there is less or no chilly powder in it.
Also when my choices of food have been healthier, my period pains have been less.
Exercise built my muscles and strengthened my body. I saw my periods pains reducing even when I had not started being mindful about what I was eating. So it is a big one for me.
SOOTHERS: Sweets, chats with someone close, massages, music, spending time alone, types of herbal teas, cuddling up in bed, watching movies, some like fragrances and some don't, etc.
PAINS AND CRAMPS
oh! don't talk about them!! Ok, let's do. This is the main one for many and for me too.
People get all sorts of pains. Legs, boobs, abdomen[obviously, everything is going on in there], head, palms, feet, feeling of hot-cold, streaks of pain, inner thigh, calves, waves of blood pressure changing, etc.
In my case, I use to feel I reincarnated after the pain subsided.
Meaning, I use to feel I died in pain and then was born again. This has changed a lot for me due to age or lifestyle changes or collective. I don't know. But I would share what I feel could be the thing for me.
HORMONAL DIRTY DANCING
Mood swings are talked about in jokes and mockery. But they are to some extent true. Of course, mine might be different from others.
Some people are said to put anything and anyone ablaze if they are triggered during this time.
In my case, I feel I loosen up. I can't hold my emotions. Especially, the love ones. Maybe coz these are the ones I hold the most. Also, I get cranky if there is a lot of noise around me because that is another thing I don't react to a lot on a normal day but during periods I can't stop myself from reacting to it. I don't want anyone around me.
But to this I would add, I realised a few years ago when I was doing a 3-months residential yoga course that how much a loving touch/hug of a person helps during this time to calm down myself. Never realised it before because have been under the superstitions followed by my family along with me-myself being a little bit of a touch-me-not kind of a person. Well but then to each one her own. This is my experience.
Why does this happen? Some may say, we are more in touch with ourselves during this time. Some may say hormones going crazy.
We shouldn't use it as an excuse to behave rashly.
I have seen that some women declare that they are on their periods and use it as a license to behave rashly with others. I don't think that's a very apt way. One should live their lives normally without any resistance, so that, no matter what, you don't get affected by anything. All these triggers, I think, usually happen when people are holding themselves back on a normal day.
It is advised to eat fewer medicines in general. But the kind of pain I use to get I would need to pop a pill. I had one prescribed by a doctor and I would stick to it. Luckily I have stopped buying that medicine[unless I am travelling]. All I have started doing is take good care of myself. The mad pain has gone. The normal one still exists.
Sometimes one needs to take medicines to tame their periods. eg. Some people get their periods more than once a month and for it, the doctor prescribes medicines which I believe are or are a type of contraceptives. You would see days of the week written on the tablet leaf.
I have misused that medicine due to reasons like I didn't want to have periods when an event was going to take place or when I was travelling. If you take it on time it puts a stopper on your periods but then again it is not fool-proof.
In my opinion, it is best to take any medicine with consultation from a doctor otherwise they can harm in long run.
Hot Water Bottle has been my best friend. A friend in need. They even come in electric form so you don't need to put water in them.
For those who don't know what I am talking about, here's a brief.
In many communities or religions, lady's on their periods are treated as untouchables. As if they are impure and anything, anyone coming in contact with them would also become impure.
Some even go to the extent of saying that the shadow of a lady in her periods can rotten the pickle and various other things.
The little girls they worship like goddesses during Navratri[Hindu Holy Times] for many years suddenly become unholy to even sit in that event if they are on their period.
They are barred to touch anything in their own homes. The kitchen and the temple being the big ones where it is as close as a taboo.
Some of them have made it lenient they say by following this untouchability business only for 3 days and not all the days.
I wouldn't comment much on this one because this goes deep down in religious beliefs.
It's amazing if one can relax in the comforts of their beds but if it is required to travel then check in advance where all you might be around the time of your period and how the toilets might be over there and if you can handle it and if not then go prepared for it. I carry painkillers and a hot water bag too.
I read in a book that said that girl's performance in subjects like Mathematics goes down when they are on their periods. Their creative side enhances. Well maybe there is some truth to it but I think women have evolved and performed exceptionally well no matter what.
They have played sports with appropriate protection and by taking care of their overall health during periods. So don't let anyone put that in your head because women have defied that if at all that concept existed in the past. Of course, your body is bleeding and you must rest as much as you can. You should be comfortable in taking help if required. No shame.
Some believe that periods and the moon cycle have a relation. Some say it is a good idea to be in sync with the moon. Meaning, to have one's periods around New Moon or a Full Moon[I don't remember which one] time is a good thing. It is then believed you are going according to nature which is considered, should I say auspicious?! And hence periods is also called Moon Cycle.
Period blood may help in curing some diseases. I have read that research is in progress in this regard. I believe if this experiment is successful then soon there would be blood banks for period's blood too. People who called the blood impure would even pay to receive a shot of it. Who knows?
Some say fresh period's blood can work as an amazing facial mask. I haven't tried that one myself. Try it at your own risk.
No need to show we are strong and do not need rest. That's ego.
Rest, IS important.
We are going through this monthly process is enough to show how strong we are.
In Yoga, we were told that on high flow days one should avoid any rigorous activity, especially that requires putting pressure on the abdomen/reproductive system. One can do stretches and relaxation genre of yoga and other activities but can keep the more high-intensity activities for other days.
Happy Chumming xoxo