Here’s a mathematics problem for you:
From my eleventh birthday when I got my period until my thirty-second birthday when I got pregnant, I have gotten my period every month. So how many days have I had my period so far?
5 day long periods x 21 years x 12 months = 1260 days.
Seeing as that was so much fun, let’s do some more:
How many hours was I educated about periods?
There was one hour of health class when I was ten where I shown how a tampon expands in water….
And the 5-minute chat my mother gave me, explaining where she keeps the tampons.
Then there was half an hour spent listening to my girlfriends talk about cramps or headaches that were caused by their periods.
So to summarize, for the last 1260 days I experienced my period, I had roughly an hour and a half of discussion. But more shocking is that I have spent zero days, zero hours and zero minutes having meaningful conversation about my period or support.
So the real question is: does it matter? Aren’t periods just tampons, headaches and cramps. Can’t they be cured with a hot water bottle and that magical cocoa bean. Do we really need to talk about periods? Yes!
I believe society’s lack of discussion about menstruation is actually a troubling epidemic of silence surrounding womanhood in general.
This was something I was unaware of until a year ago, when I had tea with an older English friend of mine. She had just started menopause and divulged to me that, menopause is a very lonely time because nobody talk about it. (It’s too much of a “taboo topic”).
Her comment made me realize we don’t talk about womanhood at all, which starts way back with our first period.
We are taught that womanhood and periods are something to be embarrassed about. Because of this, any question we really need answered (in order for us not to feel alone or frightened) gets left unanswered. It seems scarier to face a pack of woman eating tigers than talking to other woman about periods.
I was so scared my ten year old niece would be telling her friends at menopause how lonely she’s felt that I sent a request to my friends from around the world asking them to share the story of their first periods. My hope was my niece could see that there is a whole world of woman wisdom and support she can access so that she doesn’t have to go through womanhood alone.
Women are the best place for support given we have all been through it. What I learnt was that whether you’re in Taiwan, Ireland or New Zealand, we all need to start sharing.
“On The Day I Got My Period” is about sharing and starting conversations, which is why I left the last chapter of the book blank for mothers to share the story of their first periods with their daughters.
So check out the stories, but more importantly, start sharing yours.