Navigating periods can be overwhelming and confusing for many women, especially during their first experience. The lack of open conversations and information about periods often leaves us feeling scared and unprepared for this natural life change. It’s time to change the narrative and empower ourselves with valuable period insights.
These brave women share the period facts they wish they had known earlier. From understanding the uniqueness of our bodies to the different phases of our cycles and even the effects of our cycles on our mental health and well-being, their stories shed light on the importance of proper education and open dialogue.
The uniqueness of our bodies
Women always look at their bodies through the perceived lens of societal standards, and Amanda Iheme (30) wishes they taught her the uniqueness of her body. There are comparisons between when we get our first periods to how quickly our breasts develop.
“If you’re not taught these things (uniqueness of bodies), you’ll feel abnormal. Being a teenager in a woman’s body, you experience a distance between your body and your consciousness before the whole thing merges in your late 20s/30s. It would have been very helpful if we had that sort of awareness growing up. I wouldn’t have to have waited for 17 years to understand my body and my period.”
The tea about periods
Many women wish they had a genuine breakdown about their periods as opposed to the idea portrayed in the sanitary towel adverts on TV. Timileyin Soyemi (26) did not understand the women bouncing about in the ads and how different her period experience was.
“I wish somebody had said something about the pain, the cravings, or what it does to your mental health. I wish somebody sat me down and told me these things before I started. Maybe it would have given me a bit of mental preparation for this phase.”
The phases of your cycle
When women get their periods for the first time, there is a lot of focus on the menstrual phase. Amanda wishes she knew about the other phases, such as the follicular, ovulation, and luteal phases.
“Rather than telling me I’d bleed every month, I wish they had told me your body also goes through these phases, and these are how they affect your body.”
The relationship between food and your body
Our relationship with foods during our cycle goes beyond sugar intake to the foods we eat. Achalugo Ilozumba (30+) wishes she knew this correlation between what we put into our bodies and what we get out of our bodies.
“It would have been great if they told me I could have a food plan that works for my body, not against it.”
The effects of your cycle on your body
Your cycle is an integral factor in your self-care and navigating society. Amanda wishes she knew how much her cycle affected her body as a woman.
“As a woman, your period is a significant part of your being. It affects your mental health, affects your emotional well-being, it affects your diet, and your body.”
How to wear sanitary pads
Girls battle with the constant anxiety and social awkwardness of being stained, and Timileyin wishes someone taught her how to wear sanitary pads properly to avoid this.
“I always used to get stained when I started my period. These little things weren’t spoken about, like the ratio of the long and short sides covering your vagina more than your bum. Nobody gave me those lessons. I had to learn them by myself.”
Period education for boys
How much do men know about periods or cycles? Well, not much. Our educational system glosses over the topic or subjects of the female body in schools. Amanda wishes the schools did more to avoid men acting from ignorance.
“They (can) understand how a woman’s body works, what phases she’s at, and how it affects her. Educate them so they know how to support a sister or a partner. It helps the community you surround yourself with during your period.”
Period empathy for women
Some women battle painful periods with little support from their immediate community, and Aniekan Udofia (29) wishes more people knew this and were more empathetic to the pain.
“I read somewhere that period cramps are a 10th or a fraction of what contraction is when you’re in labour. And I wish people would understand that a lot more. You are in so much pain you cannot do much, and I wish people would be a lot more empathetic towards that.”
It’s time for us to take a stand and break the silence about periods. It can be uncomfortable to talk about, but staying silent only keeps the shame and stress alive for future generations. Let’s change the narrative to empower us by openly discussing periods, providing proper education, and showing empathy and understanding. Together, we can create a world where periods are embraced as a natural part of life, free from stigma and misconceptions. Together we can break the silence and encourage period positivity.