Many girls arrive at their first period without knowing what to expect. It can seem embarrassing, scary and overwhelming.
Monthlies is working with London artist Kat Gordon to illustrate real stories of first periods to highlight how the taboo surrounding menstruation is leading to misinformation and confusion.
The illustrations are an honest account of how many girls felt when they bled for the first time, based on real stories, which were shared with Monthlies by menstruators across the UK.The artist Kat says “I find first time period stories fascinating. It’s really strange that some girls don’t know exactly what’s happening to their bodies because their parents and peers are too embarrassed or ashamed to discuss it beforehand. How scary is it to bleed and not really know why? It happens to half the population for goodness sake! I hope these illustrations help highlight just how important it is to educate young girls before they start menstruating and not in a biology lesson 4 years afterwards.”
I thought it was mud that somehow got into my pants
I got my first period on a school trip. We came in from some kayaking one day and there was this brown stain in my pants, I thought maybe it was mud that somehow got into my pants or that I’d caught something from the weeds in the lake. It stayed really light but the next day I asked a friend if this is what periods are like. She said yes and then told all of the girls in our dorm that I had mine. By the time we were heading home 3 days later, everyone on the trip knew. One of the teachers had offered me pads and the boys were obviously threatened with severe consequences if they mentioned anything as most of them barely made eye contact with me.
I couldn’t work out where the big stain had come from
I started in the middle of the night and woke up to this big red-brown stain on the sheets. I couldn’t work out where it had come from for a few minutes then realised it was me. My big sister had hers already so I knew what periods were and my Mum put the sheets in the wash but I’m always nervous about ruining the sheets when I’m due on.
It seemed like my insides were dissolving
Mine started when I was 10, so pretty young. I was really confused by the whole female reproductive system. My aunt told me that periods meant I was becoming a woman, so I could have children one day (looking back, I have so many issues with this explanation, I would never put it like this to my children – if I choose to have any!). I knew about sex getting people pregnant but I didn’t understand why leaking blood once a month from the same place meant I was more able to have babies. To me it seemed like my insides must be dissolving or something. It was another 4 years of mystery until we covered periods in a science lesson at school. I just wish there was better education about periods and reproduction at a younger age!
I was scared my tampon would swell up and float away
I started my period during the school holidays. My mum’s friend was looking after us and was taking us swimming. I was too embarrassed to tell her I had my period. So my sister showed me how to use a tampon. I was so embarrassed that it was going to swell up and float away that I spend most of the time by the poolside worrying that everyone could see the string!
I thought I could hold it in like pee
My Mum told me about periods but she didn’t really explain it very well, and I thought it was just going to be like one event per month, and that I’d be able to hold it in, like I could stop myself from weeing and go to the loo to do my period, instead of needing these pads she had given me. When my first period arrived and I couldn’t control it and it lasted for like a week, I realised what she’d been trying to say, but I still wish it could just be one trip to the loo each month!
Monthlies are passionate about smashing the taboo around menstruation and dispelling the misinformation and confusion which many girls face when they get their first period.
This campaign is just the beginning. Click the button below to share your own period stories and help us to smash the taboo!