Your first period.
The day you finally get your first period can be confusing, exciting, scary, and happy all at once! Welcome to the club. You’ve already been prepped up with talks and reminders, all set to take on the world (and sometimes just sit back) as you menstruate. Note that besides usual instructions, you have got to have the ‘period talk’. As you giggle and wander through the details, here are a few things you should know:
Periods are perfectly natural: and not gross at all. It’s nice to be reminded of this given that you aren’t the only one going through it. There’s no single period cycle that matches everyone. Many menstruators start their period and don’t get one for another six months, which is normal.
Always be prepared: It’s never too early to plan for your periods. You will usually know your timeline when PMS hits the floor. Stock up on supplies for yourself, and who knows when your friend might need one? Don’t forget to carry painkillers and essential oils in case you’re the chosen one to deal with bad cramps.
Know how to relieve yourself: Cramps, bloating, and mood swings are normal. Know how to deal with each symptom and ease your period problems. Also, now is the time to make sure you keep yourself clean and odor-free.
Stains happen: No matter how careful you are, stains will always be a part of periods. Set aside an extra pair of clothes for Period Week and treat stains on clothes and beds in the right way.
Track your cycle:
Tracking your period from the very beginning can be very beneficial. A small circle or cross on the calendar will get your job done and will help you plan according to your cycle over time.
Talk about options: Most menstruators opt for a simple pad when they’re just starting out. But here’s why opting for a menstrual cup from the very start is a good idea:
Ideal for all kinds of flow: It suits everyone. Given that your flow is light and irregular initially, using a menstrual cup beats tampons and pads. There is no pain or dryness when inserting or removing a high-grade silicon cup, as compared to dry-ish cotton products.
Easier to insert: The smooth medical grade silicon like that of WomxCup makes insertion and removal effortless, with no scope for irritation.
Lasts long: For those at school or college, asking for multiple bathroom breaks due to the fear of leaking can be a real nerve-wrecker. A cup can be worn for up to 8 hours, so there’s no need to change in the middle of lectures or risk a random bathroom break.
Cups don’t disrupt your vagina’s pH: They have no adverse effects on your vaginal flora because instead of absorbing menstrual fluids like tampons and pads, they simply collect them. What more, you remain far away from latex, plastic, toxins, and bleach! That bids adieu to dryness, leftover fibers, irritation, and infections.
Goodbye cramps: Sounds too good to be true? Apart from menstrual cups contributing to an extremely comfy period, they also tend to decrease the intensity and frequency of your cramps.
Go plastic-free: The youth is now more conscious than ever about the environment and is always on the hunt for new solutions to age-old problems. The planet has had enough of the marine-based toxic plastic pollution that single-use menstrual products have caused.
Fun fact: Using a menstrual cup for one year saves 200 pads/tampons (along with their plastic cover) from being dumped into the sea. So you know where to start.
Hassle-free disposal: While you often play hit and run with your used pads/tampons to the dustbin, there’s also a chance of no dustbin being around for disposal. The only choice here is to flush the waste down, which is not at all recommended. All of this can be avoided with a menstrual cup, which only takes a single wash before reuse.
Pocket-friendly: They are as effective as any other product and less expensive!
Do it all: No more sitting out on the gym or swimming class out of the fear of leakage. Without any FOMO, you can grab every opportunity that comes your way.
Note: Using a menstrual cup comes with a learning curve. It takes some time and getting familiar with your body, so it’s important to be prepared for that.
Now that you know what’s best for your vagina, here’s busting a few myths:
Virgins can’t use menstrual cups: Coming straight to the point, a menstrual cup will not make you lose your virginity. Fun fact: Virginity is just a social construct and it takes much more than a menstrual cup to break your hymen.
It will never fit: A cup is very flexible, and so is your vagina. Once you insert the cup correctly with a fold that best suits you, it opens up inside and creates a vacuum that can be easily broken during removal.
You can’t pee while wearing a cup: Yes, you can! The cup goes inside your vagina, and you pee from your urethra. So there is no interference. Neither does the menstrual cup collect your urine.
A menstrual cup can get lost inside your vagina: There’s only one way out! First of all, the cup can’t disappear inside you, but it can move up slightly. Your vaginal canal is not an endless space; it's actually pretty narrow with a comforting dead end at your cervix. So, it is impossible for your cup to be swallowed up by your body or to get lost in there. Once it's in, there's only one place for it to go – out.
This can be a confusing time, with so many natural changes in your life and your body. The best advice here would be to appreciate it all. For those going through it, we’re in this together! And for those whose friend, sister, or daughter had their first period, shower them with some extra love and help them make the right choices.
Have a bloody good period!
Written by Nibha Patil
Cover by Khyati Patkar