My mother is a great mom. But she never talked to me about puberty. I had my first period when I was 12 years old. I was playing with my brothers and sisters, and climbed the guava tree in our compound garden. I started getting bad stomach cramps. I thought I must have eaten too many guavas. I went to my room to lie down and sleep.
I woke up to my younger sister shaking me and screaming. I thought there was a snake in the room. But then I saw a blood stain on my bed. And on the back of my skirt. I ran to find my mother. She grabbed my arm and dragged me back to my room and shut the door.
“You stay in here,” she told me. I waited and waited - so scared.
My aunt came into the room. “Why are you crying?” she asked.
“My vagina is bleeding,” I sobbed. “I’m dying!”
She came back with a pad, which she put inside my panties. Then she helped me clean the blood stains on the bedding and my clothes. I had to stay in my room for the day, she said. It was our custom.
“From now on you will bleed each month until you’re an old woman, when it will stop. Your body is now able to have a baby. Even if you aren’t ready. If you have sex with a man, you can get pregnant. You must not have sex until you are married. It is against our culture and traditions.”
I asked her why my mother would not speak to me. She laughed. She said it’s a bad omen for a mother to advise her daughter about this.
“Don’t worry girl, we all bleed every month. There is nothing shameful in it,” she said.
A period is not a dirty or shameful thing. It is a sign your body is maturing and a normal part of the reproductive cycle. When pregnant, the menstrual fluids are what ‘feed’ the growing fetus so it is an important, healthy part of being a fertile woman.
Some girls bleed more heavily on the first days of menstruation with the flow becoming lighter towards the end. Use sanitary pads, cloths or tampons to catch the blood. Find out more about menstruation by reading our articles below.
This story was written by Tune Me community member.