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PERIODS 

Getting your period is a super normal and common part of growing up. A period is a release of blood from our uterus that goes out through our vaginas, it occurs around every four weeks (once every month) and for about 5-7 days. This part of life can seem scary at first but over time it is something you get used to and we all learn to deal with them. We are all different when it comes to our periods whether it be what age we first get our period, how heavy/light our periods are and how our bodies cope when on our period. It is often the case that we first get our period when we are between the ages of 12-15 but not everyones body schedule fits into this age range and that is totally normal and ok!

Aunty Hilda has interviewed four of her best friends to find out about their first period stories ….
Aunty Richard's First Period Story

When I first got my period I had just turned 12 years old and was in year 8. A couple of my friends already had their periods so I thought I would get mine soon enough but I wasn’t quite expecting it when it came. I spent the day at school without noticing my first period and I went straight to my dance class after school so I didn’t get a chance to go to the bathroom or check. At dance, we usually used to get changed in the same room as we waited for the class to start so I was in my underwear getting changed in front of everyone. I am not sure if anyone noticed my period or not but no one told me, either too scared to or didn’t notice at all. After coming home from dance and getting changed I finally noticed as there was blood on my dance tights. I was completely mortified and so embarrassed that I didn’t want to go back to dance for the rest of that week. I was also too embarrassed and scared to tell my mum but luckily had a period starter kit from school so I was able to use that. The next day my mum asked me if I had got my period as she had found my blood stained underwear and tights in the bin at home, I told her I had and she instantly helped me and told me there was nothing to worry about. This made me feel reassured and I was no longer embarrassed about the situation with my mum. 

Aunty Thomson's First Period Story

After coming home from the pool and after a big day in year 9, I went to the toilet to find blood all over my togs. I instantly freaked out not knowing what to do as my mum was in Auckland and was only at home with my dad and my brother who I wasn't comfortable talking about it with. I was so embarrassed as I know the blood stain would have been visible for everyone to see. Once mum came home I kept my period a secret for at least 6 months as it became something I didn't want anyone to know and I think part of this was because I didn’t want to accept that I was growing up. I managed without the use of period products and instead used toilet paper. Once my mum found out I was taught how to use pads and tampons and this was such a relief and wasn’t as big of a deal as I had thought. I only wish I had talked to mum sooner! 

Aunty Bentham's First Period Story

I am 17 and I got my first period at the end of last year. Before this I was worried as all of my friends had gotten their period already, most of them for at least two years. When I got mine I was so relieved and happy. I’ve only had a few periods since which makes them pretty irregular but I've been told that this is normal and that my body is just getting used to growing up. When I got mine I had been feeling a bit unwell a couple of days before with a sharp pain in my lower stomach which I later found out was cramps and a sore lower back. I was just on the toilet but when I wiped  there was  blood on the toilet paper  and I instantly knew what this meant. I was relieved but part of me was scared as I had never dealt with that before. I had often talked about how I had never gotten my period before with my best friend and so I phoned her straight away and she told me to tell my mum and gave me useful information at school the next day with how to use a tampon.

Aunty Aston's First Period Story 

When I got my first period I was 10 or 11, just before I started year 7. I was hanging out with a couple of my friends at my house on the weekend when one of them questioned if I had hurt myself because there was blood showing through my pants which were white. I remember being confused because I wasn’t sore as if I had hurt myself but I thought I must have as this was unusual. My friends and I went straight to my mum to ask if she could help fix ‘the cut’ which is what I thought had happened. I remember my mum told my friends we would be back soon and took me to her bedroom where she explained in short what had just happened to me. It was very confusing as I had never heard about a period before and it freaked me out because I was the only one I knew who had gotten it. I learnt to deal with them pretty quickly as my mum and older sister were super helpful.

 What you can do to help/how to manage  

There are a few ways in which to help manage periods and help your body cope with them. A lot of the time, people find that they break out right before their periods, start to have mood swings and/or have cramps and sore stomachs, this can help with knowing when you will get it. Some people don’t get signs like these, this is where platforms/apps, such as Flo can come in handy. This app can be downloaded on a smartphone and with details you provide the app with (latest period date, symptoms etc) and it provides you with suggestions and tips on how to manage and deal with your period, it even tells you when you should expect it. Ibuprofen and Pandadol are good to take if you are struggling with the pain from your cramps or your period pain in general. Wheat Bags or hot water bottles are also good options to soothe cramps. It is also important to get good sleep and stay hydrated as you lose fluids while on your period and it can be a tiring and draining week.

Period products

 

The main period products that are often used are pads, tampons, menstrual cups, and period underwear. 
Examples are …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tampons

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Pads

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Menstrual cups

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

Reusable period undies

These items can all be bought at the supermarket. There are many different brands and it can take a while to find out what type of product and brand you find most comfortable and suit your period. Some period brands (like U by Kotex) offer free sample kits that you can order online, this can help with figuring out what you like best, click here for the link to U by Kotex free samples.

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You will probably find a lot of people talking about periods being linked to ‘becoming a woman’ or using the phrase ‘girl stuff’ to avoid saying menstruation. However, this does not mean that periods are only experienced by women and that all women have cycles. “Some cisgender women (assigned female at birth) don’t have periods due to menopause, stress, disease or a hysterectomy. They may have never started menstruating due to a variety of medical conditions or they may be transgender or intersex. At the same time, there are people who menstruate who aren’t cisgender women. They might be trans men, intersex, genderqueer or nonbinary.”

If you feel that your gender identity means that you can’t talk about having/not having periods, remember that you, your body and your gender are 100% valid and worth celebrating. Many people who aren't women and have periods can be marginalized, isolated and discriminated against when anyone uses words that attribute periods to only women, which can make it harder for them to access healthcare. This is why it is important to use inclusive language when talking about periods that helps all people with cycles be heard.

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