How did you learn about menstuation. Where did you first hear about it? Where did you learn all about it? Who explained it and what did they say? How old were you? What did you think when you first found out?
This is a question for everyone, men, women, and others!
She visited my grade seven classroom, banished the boys from the room, and filled us in on what we were about to experience. She made it sound so terrifying that for years I prayed night and day that it wouldn’t happen to ME!
I just kept picking up bits and pieces… stuff about the womb, stuff about “bleeding”, stuff about “tampons/pads”, stuff about fertility… dozens of different sources. Eventually, I just pieced all that together. If my brain was a computer, it would have all been compiled into a single .zip file and renamed “menstruation”.
On a slightly related note, I take pride in being one of the few people on the planet to be able to withstand hearing women talk about their period. I think that comes from the theatre…
Believe it or not, I think I learned about if from Judy Blume.
I bled all over myself. It was just a little at first, then after a couple months, it started coming more often. I figured I was dying and finally got up enough nerve to tell my mother. I was in fifth grade, so I guess she thought she had some time before the “talk” was due. Believe it or not, she gave me one of those old sanitary napkins that resembles a small mattress and a BELT! This was 1976, btw, not 1876, so it was her thriftiness that prevented her from entering the 20th century. Anyway, realizing that necessity was the mother of invention, I “invented” beltless pads myself, using scotch tape.
When they gave us the school talk in 7th grade, I thought “Thanks for the info, but you’re about 2 years too late.”
Now, with all the “feminine protection” commercials I’m sure no girl today is an ignorant as I was then. But in 1976 we never mentioned the word “period” or “menstruation” or “tampon.”
Heard about it on the radio.
Alice Cooper-“Only Women Bleed”
In Hawaii, we had sex education in the 3rd grade.
Which,IMHO, is something that still should be taught at that level? You never saw a class so quiet and interested in a subject. Children at that age are more likely to pay attention and learn, and less likely to spend the entire class giggling uncontrollably.
Judy Blume. But I was so terrified of telling my parents. I guess I was afraid of not being their little girl anymore. It was horrific. Not telling them, that was fine, but the anticipation. I have never had to do anything that hard since.
Missed that day in school when the school nurse told us about it, but I guess I picked up enough from mom and my friends that it wasn’t completely overwhelming. The most embarassing part, after getting my Mom to help me the first time, was her going into the kitchen to tell Dad that their youngest was “now a woman.” An eleven-year old confused woman who just wanted to go play on the monkey bars instead of seesawing on those hideous things they passed off as sanitary napkins in the 60s.
And I’m still confused - who is Judy Blume?
My mom. I wonder if Brachy remembers what Mom said [her posting on Mom’s sex explanation including her accent was
right on the nose]…
I thought that those clunky pads were for peeing when Mom went shopping. Guys could pee standing up, but women could pee and, la-di-da, you won’t even know about it! oh well, so much for convenience. Mom was also against using tampons [old fashioned I guess], but she was eventually convinced that it was ok. Same with pierced ears.
I have mixed feelings about the “curse”; when it comes it confirms my gender status [woman], fertility and childbearing possibilities [or not], my health and time passing. I hate it because I never know when it will arrive, its messy, ruins fancy underwear, clothes, sheets and forces me to adapt my schedule. I’ve tried cervical cups, diaphram, etcetcetc. I was happiest when pregnant because the curse was banished for a while. Needless to say I am looking forward to menopause.
Argh, Brachy you bet me to the punch.
Judy Blume writes books for teenage girls, and, less successfully, the grown-up women they eventually become (“Summer Sisters” – bleh!!) One of her classics is “Are you There, God? It’s Me, Margaret,” notable for its discussion of Margaret getting her period.
I’m on the other end of the spectrum. I was fully informed about menstruation by the fifth grade, and waited until I was nearly a sophomore in high school to join the ranks of “women.” It was so embarrassing. I carried tampons around in my purse for years so no nosy girls would think I hadn’t “started” yet.
(Pssst … I enjoyed an entire year period-free after the birth of my son because I nursed him. This doesn’t happen with everyone, but coupled with the pregnancy, I had nearly two years curse-free! Whee! It was funny; when I ‘returned’ it seemed all the products had changed!)
I first heard about it when I was playing dolla with my neighbor and she wanted to use her mom’s sanitary pads for diapers. I had no idea what they were and she said “They are for when my mom is vleeding.” She was from Norway. I was like, “What, when she is what?” She had to say it ten times before I realized she meant bleeding, and then I thought it was some big bandaid and wondered why just her mom would need them. Men get cut too, I thought.
I also recall finding mom’s tampons and looking at the package insert. They used a cutaway view to show you how to insert it and it looked all the world to me like there was supposed to be a slot in your OUTER thigh (didn’t realize one leg was “cut away” for the diagram). Wondered what the hell that was and why I never new anyone with an outer thigh opening.
Really, I was considered a gifted child. Honestly.
I learned it like how SPOOFE did. Just bits and pieces were thrown around the playground. Then, in seventh grade, we watched a video that explained it in detail. It became clear at that point.
My menopausal mom told me about “a friend” coming to visit every month and it would completely natural. It’s a vague memory for me, to say the least, and it was done at the same time as the " Watch out for boys/men who can’t keep them to themselves. I think she called them Friendly Fred’s ( stop laughing) who have been up graded to Child Molesters now. I was either in the 5th or 6th grade. I am practically pissing my pants at the memory of it now at how comical it all was.
However, when my “friend” made it’s appearance starting in eight grade,I naively thought that if I didn’t drink red juice, like Hi-C, it would be clear, not red. I used toilet paper for the first couple of visitations and eventually got the courage up to ask my mom about pads.
She goes to the store and brings home belted pads. Punditlisa and I could have the same Mother, my mom didn’t know anything about tampons. I got the courage up to do buy a box when I was in the 10th grade. The belted pads were even worse than imagined because my mother, who is still from another planet (planet polyester), would buy for me only polyester pants ( you know the kind, with the fake pleats down the front, and they clung because of soemthing called a growth spurt in 8th grade and my mom refused to buy me new pants. I walked around school with one book in front of me and one book behind my butt.
I have to remember this for my biography
Ha! like a thigh pocket, Cranky! I don’t think the topic of sex was anything near as confusing as menstruation. Misleading diagrams, uninformed school nurses, weird and uncomfortable sanitary products. sigh
I am grateful for the improvement for the latter - I remember Mom telling Kiffa and I that her mother MADE her sanitary stuff to take on her ocean voyage on the Queen Mary. Mom ended up tossing the used ones out the port hole instead of washing them and subsequently she had no napkins when she arrived. Her aunt took her to the store where she was able to buy them for the first time in her life. But the napkins were so lousy that they crumbled. Yuck.
Oh, and SPOOFE - thank you for being able to say the word “period” with out getting all oogified. That’s an all too rarity in men.
Hmmm…I think I learned about it gradually, in stages.
- Insinuation and implication. For instance, when I was perhaps 6 or 7, I didn’t want to wear a belt and my Dad and Grandpa exchanged a series of comments about how if I’d been a girl I’d have to wear far worse things than a belt, like girdles and stuff, and there would be WORSE things, uh huh yes indeedy worse things for sure if I’d been a girl so I oughta put on the damn belt and be glad I was born a boy.
Or strange accoutrements and thingies in the bathrooms of female relatives. From little hints here and there, I got the notion that women did SOMETHING in the bathroom that men thought was a little weird and icky and made nervous nonexplicit jokes and comments about. I didn’t know what was used for what, but by 3rd grade I’d seen a Massengill douche, a shower massage hose, a box of pads or tampons, a Water Pik, and various rinsed-out undies drying over the shower curtain rod and thought…well, I don’t KNOW what I thought, not specifically.
- “Health” class in 4th grade explained plumbing, sexual and reproductive. Although they left out how anything feels (and certainly didn’t speak of appetites), they covered menstruation. I was left with the impression that it only affected MUCH older females, you know, fully adult grownups like the teachers. I had no idea that some of the girls in my class would soon be dealing with this.
I was lucky, my mom told me, up front, at a very early age. By the time it happened, I was so blase. I was like “oh, yeah, that, okay.”
We had the sex ed class (I think the euphemism was “Personal Development”) in the fifth grade. I remember the boys being led out into the other classroom to watch a movie, and us thinking how lucky they were that they didn’t have to go through such a thing. Most of us girls already knew about everything that was going to happen by then. I did, having read “Are you there God…” and other coming-of-age books already.
I didn’t get my period until I was in the ninth grade. I was the youngest one in my class and I was sure I was the last one. It happened at home, and I was so mortified I didn’t tell my mom until a day or two later. The first time was awful–I bled what seemed like quarts for ten days straight. We left on our vacation in the meantime, and I was using the hugest, most absorbent pads known to man, changing them twice a night, and I still managed to bleed all over my aunt and uncle’s floor, where I was sleeping in a sleeping bag. :o
In about the 4th grade my parents got this book called 'What’s Happening To My Body" all about puberty written by a health educator for her daughter. Kinda the “Our Bodies Ourselves” for the pre-pubescent set…
Anyway, they left it on the shelf in my room for whenever I should desire to examine it, which I did (privately of course) and a good thing too because I got my first period in the late 4th grade… But when it happened I felt totally like it was no big deal. I wouldn’t have even told my mom except that she asked about it.