What happened the first time you got your menstrual period? How old were you?
I got my period the summer before 7th grade, when I was eleven. I actually noticed when I was getting ready for karate class. I had already checked in, so I remember really not wanting to have to explain to my male instructors what was going on and why I had to go home. I immediately called my mom but she didn’t pick up. My older sister was my next call and she told me that it was going to be okay and that she would meet me at home. What was funny was that I wasn’t worried about bleeding, but terrified that my mom was going to be mad at me because I hadn’t wanted to go to Karate that day, and I didn’t want her to think I was trying to ditch it! (She wasn’t mad at me in the end, so my stress was for naught)
Who was your menstruation guide? Who talked you through what to expect for your first menstrual period?
I got my first period lesson in 4th grade–a pretty rudimentary explanation that we would all start bleeding every month, but that it was normal and not scary. I was at an all-girls school, so they were pretty open with us, and looking back I am super grateful for that! I also had an older sister and my mom’s a doctor, so all my questions were answered very clearly. But I think I definitely learned the most about periods when I read a book called “First Period Stories” in secret. I had noticed it on our shared bookshelf and asked if I could read it (I was probably 8 or 9), and my mom said that it was for my sister, not me. As the youngest, I didn’t like that answer, so I would read it in secret in the bathroom when I was supposed to be in bed. I actually probably got way more than I needed from that book! Some of those stories were not so pleasant.
What are your favorite indulgences for keeping yourself mentally and physically in shape when you’re menstruating?
I get super bad cramps, so I’m a major fan of heating pads and Advil. I also tend to really crave red meat when I’m cramping and bleeding heavily, so during the early months of the pandemic, when we were all still cooking and not ordering in as much, I instituted a Sophie Period Burger night. On the third night of my period every month, we needed to get burgers and fries. It was definitely a funny tradition, but it helped me get through the cramps and the pandemic!