Breaking the Taboo: Unveiling “First Period” Stories
By NCVC Staff | Published on Oct 09, 2023
Getting your first period can be quite an experience. From feeling shocked by the sudden changes in your body to worrying about your health, the reactions are often similar for many women. Whether it’s due to the lack of awareness surrounding menstruation or the reluctance of parents and schools to talk about it, the scarcity of information can leave teenagers feeling confused, scared, and anxious as they navigate through this significant bodily change.
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To shed light on this topic, we reached out to five women and asked them about their first period and the one thing they wish they had known back then. Their responses were eye-opening.
A taboo rooted in our culture
Kripa Krishnan, a writer from Mumbai, shared her experience, saying, “My mother made it seem like having periods was dirty, and that idea was really damaging. I wish it had been presented as a normal bodily function. My school was also quite secretive about menstrual awareness. We had a session on it, but were then told not to discuss it with boys. So, we were taught to hide it and feel ashamed, and I wish that had not been the case. I wish they had explained it scientifically and normalized it. Most importantly, I wish I had known that there was nothing dirty about having my period.”
The awkward period talk
Shwetha D’Souza, a graphic designer from Ahmedabad, shared her discomfort, saying, “The first thing my grandmother said was, ‘Now it’ll be easier to get you married’. I was only 13! It was awful. I wish my family had stopped making a big deal out of it and treated it like a normal bodily function. For the longest time, I thought that getting my period meant I had to get married. I wish my family had been more educated and stopped treating periods as a seal of approval for marriage.”
Let’s talk menstruation
Juhi Verma, a brand solutions manager from Mumbai, expressed a desire to have been informed beforehand. She said, “I wish someone had spoken to me about periods before I actually had them, and not after. The first time I saw myself bleeding, I thought I had hurt myself while playing, and I didn’t know how to tell my mother. I was so scared, thinking she would not let me go out and play because I had hurt myself badly. If I had known about it beforehand, it would have certainly made my life easier.”
Stigma around period stains
Harsha Ahluwalia, a banker from Vadodara, shared her struggle with period stains, saying, “I was absolutely terrified of staining the sheets. It was such a big deal at home that my sister and I were shamed for it. To this day, when my sister visits and is on her period, she sleeps on the floor! Dealing with a new bodily change was already stressful enough, but waking up every hour to check if the sheets were stained added to the terrifying experience. I wish people around us didn’t treat stained clothes and sheets as a reflection of how incapable we are of taking care of our own bodies.”
Karen Alfonso Kotikalapudi, a writer from Mumbai, shared her frustration with being asked to keep her periods a secret. She said, “I had to hide my pads, wrap them up in newspaper, and basically conceal any evidence of my period. I couldn’t even admit it to my own brother. I wish I had known that having periods was completely normal and not some big, ugly secret.”
These stories shed light on the need to break the taboo surrounding menstruation. Open conversations, education, and normalization are crucial steps towards creating a society where women can embrace their periods without shame or fear. Let’s challenge the status quo and empower future generations to have a healthier perspective on this natural phenomenon.
Also, check out our article on 4 period myths that we need to stop believing in right now!