Born and bred a British, Shamima, 16, is all about creativity and self-expression. She wishes to pursue a career in Medicine and pursue her interests in poetry, fashion, writing and maybe in the distant future, property development.
At the tender age of 10 or 11, young girls first come to hear of a queer womanly condition called menstruation, of all the ridiculous procedures of life; this had to be the weirdest and most unfair! (I still believe boys should have it too!)
So what exactly were we told?
1. It is when we finally become a woman.
Which does not explain why we feel even more uncertain and unconfident than ever before, in fact, we’d rather live without it even if it means remaining a child!
2. The entire actual factual low-down, well sort of.
The fact that when we come to study it at high school, we know very little shows just how much of it we absorbed at that age.
3. Sanitary Towels
They were supposed to be things that save your life and make everything okay. As if!
4. Cramps and PMS
‘You may feel mild pain along your lower abdomen, and you may possibly also feel upset and/or tired.’
Basically if you do not have a shower every day, you will stink. Why? Because you’re a girl!
And yet despite having had talks from the school nurse and the odd point from Mom’s, we soon discovered that there was much more to it than what was made out:
- In the midst of spinning facts and figures, very few people remembered to mention how we can expect to react when we hit our first menstruation. Something along the lines of ‘expect to be shocked, horrified and even revolted’ may have done the job.
- I remember the mention of abdominal pain and cramps, something that had meant very little then, after all what could be so painful about shedding a few minute cells? You can imagine, I certainly was not prepared for the sheer agony running the length of my spine, abdomen, lower back and thighs, that was to have me writhing, pale and on the verge of collapsing! It would have also been useful to point out how to overcome it. I discovered for myself that sleeping it off worked rather well.
- The average duration of menstruation is 7 days with a low of 3 and a high of 10 – got that – but what of the extremes? I didn’t even know that it was possible until one of my friends revealed that her periods were very irregular, she usually missed 2 or 3 months and when she did have it, it lasted weeks! Imagine the shock when you realise one day that you can’t quite remember the first day of your period because it was that long ago! I’m sure most of us would freak out, and this friend of mine – she certainly did. Don’t worry there is nothing wrong with her, it’s just the way her cycle is, she now has to take contraceptive pills (as prescribed by her GP) so she doesn’t have her periods at all. Why? Onto no. 4!
- We all know/knew that at the start of our periods they’re quite heavy and then tend to lighten out – but yet again – what of the extremes? The friend I referred to in point 3 also has very heavy periods for quite some length of time; so much so, it is unhealthy for her and is making her anaemic, thus the contraceptives. So although the facts and figures don’t stretch so far as to cover these points, Mother Nature does have some funny quirks that are perfectly normal for each individual, however damaging they may be. So if you notice anything peculiar don’t panic and see your GP!
- PMS – I honestly believed it when I was told I would simply feel down, depressed and upset, that’s not what I know now though! I look awful and feel… frustrated, really frustrated and always annoyed, very snappy and hugely cranky, to an extent I’m screaming in my head ‘why do I feel like a pregnant woman?!’ Lucky for me however, I have a friend who I tend to take my irritation out on, the good thing is she doesn’t mind a bit and it makes me feel so much better!
- Hands up those who believe they put on weight during menstruation, because I certainly did. There was always the extra bit of tum I had to put up with but soon enough it was gone. I had put it mainly down to the extra treats I tend to scoff. It was only recently however I discovered during a biology class, that it was due to the thickening of the uterus lining just before menstruation and so we all have an extra bit a belly (or so it appears) naturally. I still suspect the treats have something to do with it too, but its a relief to know that it’s strictly temporary and possibly little to do with fat!
- I should have known that sanitary towels wouldn’t protect me! Do not make the mistake of wearing white (or a light colour) believing you’re safe or that deceiving Always advert with the girl jiving. Precautions are strictly necessary.
- And perhaps if I’d known that menstruation is a lot easier to talk abut with friends, I wouldn’t have been so tense about it when I first started out, then again, maybe that’s something we have to learn for our selves!