1. I was convinced the bears could smell blood and would eat me.
“12 years old and we were on the road trip from hell—17 days, 4000 miles from Houston to Yellowstone and back—crammed in a Suburban. We had already fought rock slides ripping off the bumper of my parents’ brand new car, lost reservations at Yellowstone, our tour bus breaking down in the back country, I had accidentally scalded my mom by flushing the toilet while she was in the shower, and two days later my sister fell off her bike and had to get 12 stitches at a ski clinic in the Rockies. But when we were getting settled at the one place in Yellowstone that hadn’t lost our reservations, I innocently went to the restroom and surprise! I panicked. Like, I absolutely lost my mind, sure that I was going to die. My mom tried to calm me down while my dad went down to the hotel gift shop. He came back with the thickest, most gigantically horrifying pads you’ve ever seen in your life and tampons. I cried even harder. My mom didn’t know how to use the pads because she hadn’t used pads since they came with their own belt. More crying. So I spent the rest of the trip alternating between the pads that made me feel like I was wearing a diaper and panty liners and flooding out. I ended up staining my new souvenir boxers and refusing to go on any more Yellowstone adventures because I was convinced the bears could smell blood and would eat me. My dad had to cancel the hot air balloon trip and the whitewater trip he had booked. 20 years later, I’m still so sad about it.”
2. I felt as though I was undergoing the transformation into a newborn vampire.
“I was 12. I sat down to use the toilet, and when I stood up, I noticed a red tint in my urine. Almost immediately after, I felt a sharp pain in my lower abdomen. I felt as though I was undergoing the transformation into a newborn vampire. The excruciating pain and crippling fear disappeared the minute my mother revealed that I had gotten my first period. I instantly jumped into the shower to rid myself of the mess and cry. Then I put on a pad.”
3. When I first saw blood I thought I was dying.
“I was at a lake house with my friend’s family for the weekend and 29 mins after my parents dropped me off I started and I didn’t have anything (I was 11 so I was petrified) I know what it was but when I first saw blood I thought I was dying. Let’s just say I used of all the toilet paper there because I didn’t have any pads.”
4. I heard giggles, which grew louder, and then a thunderous laughter.
“In my well-ironed purple school uniform, the class teacher had asked me to go up to the chalkboard to solve a math problem. Completely oblivious of the big dark-brown patch at the back of my dress, I walked defiantly, as usual, to go and display my mathematical acumen. I heard giggles, which grew louder, and then a thunderous laughter. I turned around and someone pointed to the back of my dress. I turned and there it was.”
5. My bloody tampon was floating in the water. Everyone started screaming.
“I was 12 years old and at an all-girls camp one summer. At first it wasn’t too traumatic. I went to the Port-A-Potty and saw blood on my legs and was like oookay. All the other girls were so excited for me, they decorated my tent with pads and tampons. But the next day we were going swimming and I didn’t want to miss it. So I got a tampon and went into the Port-A-Potty. No one had ever told me how to use one so I kind of stuck it up in the folds, horizontal, like a hot dog in a bun. Thinking everything was cool, we jumped in the water. When I came back up, so did my bloody tampon, floating in the water. Everyone started screaming. Then a couple of friends who already had their periods, went with me back to the bathroom to try and talk me through it the right way. 20 minutes later and struggling with a wet swimsuit, I finally admitted defeat. So my best friend said she’d come in and show me. And she did. She literally had to show me where my own vagina was. There’s no merit badge for that but I tell you there should be!”
6. I was told: ‘Life will get a whole lot worse.’
“I will never forget the day of my first period just before my 14th birthday – a lovely old lady who lived across the road had died the same day. When I approached my mum in tears about the death and starting my period I was told: ‘Life will get a whole lot worse.’ There was no advice and I had to learn from other friends the same tender age as me.”
7. I had a massive stain on my butt and there was no way to hide it.
“I was 11 years old and playing softball outside while wearing white and black shorts when I got my period. Of course I bled on the white part! I had a massive stain on my butt and there was no way to hide it. So I improvised with toilet paper until I could get home and show my grandmother. She thought I sat in jam and didn’t know what it was.”
8. Mom slapped me across the face and then hugged me.
“I thought I must be ill with some sort of stomach virus, but was confused because I felt just fine. I called my mother and told her what I had found. She sounded very excited, congratulated me on getting my period, and told me to wait in the bathroom because she would be there in a few minutes. When she arrived, she slapped me across the face and then hugged me. Stunned and even more confused, I asked her what I had done wrong. She began to laugh and told me that girls who get their first period are slapped and hugged to feel the pain and joy of womanhood. I decided that if I ever had a daughter, I would find a better way to mark the occasion.”
9. Tons of blood gushed out of me, splashing all over the table, the floor, and the doctor.
“A few months before I turned 14 I had sudden debilitating pain. So much, that I couldn’t leave the couch and eventually my parents had to take me to the doctor. I was tested for a bowel obstruction, a UTI, and appendicitis before he finally decided I needed an ultrasound. I was still in such horrible pain that I could barely walk in. A few seconds into it, I could tell that the tech knew something was wrong but she wouldn’t tell us anything. Then the doctor informed me that my uterus was completely full of blood because I had an ‘imperforate hymen.’ (An imperforate hymen is a congenital disorder where you have a hymen without an opening and it completely obstructs the vagina.) He did a quick but super embarrassing procedure involving a scalpel, stirrups and some Fentanyl. And then tons of blood gushed out of me, splashing all over the table, the floor, and the doctor. I don’t think he was expecting so much blood at once but I felt so much better! I had probably a whole year’s worth of periods stored up there. Bonus: My belly got instantly smaller after that!”
10. There were all these brownish things in my underwear; I was mortified.
“I was 13 years old and it was the opening night of a play I was in. All day I had had a stomachache but I thought it was just nerves. But when I went to the bathroom before the show, I looked down and it looked like I had pooped my pants. There were all these brownish things in my underwear; I was mortified. I had no idea period blood could be brown! I really thought I’d diarrhea-ed all over my undies. But the show must go on! So I wadded up toilet paper and went on stage. I’d already made plans to stay overnight at my best friend’s house so I had to call my stepmom (who I absolutely hated) and tell her I needed her to bring me fresh underwear because I’d had an ‘accident.’ She had to tell me I’d gotten my period. 15 minutes later she showed up at my friend’s house with a brown paper lunch bag, with my name written on the bag, full of the largest pads ever. So. Embarrassing. My friends laughed for weeks.”
11. I woke up with a huge gash across my back, naked, on the floor, and blood everywhere.
“I was 14, and visiting my dad for the weekend who lived 3 hours away. I was feeling really sick, loads of pain. I went to the bathroom and almost cried, I was so sad that this had happened and even more so because I was away from my mum.
I called my step-mum and sister over and told them, they were smiling and screaming…I was humiliated. My dad asked what all the fuss was over so I told him I got my period and he just said “oh” (he assumed I already had my period and had no idea it was my first time).
My step-mum made me a really, really hot bath and I soaked in that for about half an hour. When I went to get out, I got really light headed from the huge temperature change, fainted and slammed my back onto the bath.
I woke up shortly after with a huge gash across my back, naked, on the floor, and blood everywhere.”
12. The 45-minute ride was spent in silence.
“I was at home. Which was fine. Except that the only person at home was my father. And my father is a blusher. He doesn’t talk about anything to do with sex at all. So I had to ask him where my mom kept the pads. And he didn’t know because she didn’t keep pads—she kept tampons. I asked him to explain to me how tampons worked but he was so embarrassed that instead he drove me to the pharmacy and we picked up a box of pads. I had basketball practice right afterwards and we had to drive up together as he was my coach. The 45-minute ride was spent in silence. When we finally got there, I blurted out ‘it’s just my period, it’s not that big of a deal!’ And he just blushed.”