So with fall comes back to school. And something lots of young woman will be learning to deal with are periods, and not the punctuation type. I mean that monthly friend that all women get once a month. I remember back to being in middle and high school and wishing that it was a good enough excuse for a sick week. My whole period was a nightmare for me as a young woman. I never knew exactly when it was coming so when it got close I was constantly worried about getting it, being stuck in class, not being able to be excused and bleeding through my pants. I used to wear a sweatshirt around my waist to hide the unfortunate spot on my jeans. I also remember the dread of trying to hide tampons and pads in my hoody as we had a school policy of not carrying bags with us to class, I was horrified that someone would see them and make some snarky teenage boy comment in front of everyone. I also remember the time spend in the morning finding the right jeans, that I didn’t think would show the bulky disposable pads I was wearing. It was quite a process, and left me a ball of nerves for the whole week.
What I wish I knew.
- Periods are Normal. Despite how uncomfortable they can seem during those teen years – they reassure all of us we are healthy. With age come comfort and the insecurity starts to fade away.
- Menstrual Cups Rock! I wish I had known about either disposable soft cups or reusable menstrual cups as they would have reduced SO much stress. I could have put it in before I ever got my period – ‘just in case’ – relieving the stress I felt leading up to it and the accidental spots. They can also be worn for up to 12 hours – so I wouldn’t even need to change it while at school at all! What a sense of freedom this would have given me. Yes they look large, but once they are in you won’t even know they are there! The benefit? These is almost no risk of TSS associated with these products.
- Cloth Menstrual Pads. Ok yes they would have totally freaked me out in middle & high school. But they are SO much more comfortable! They don’t bunch or crinkle or stick to your skin. They can come as big or as small as you need them and in so many cute prints!
- Planet Wise Wet/Dry Bags. These adorable little bags are perfect to store clean tampons and pads (either cloth or disposable) and they also have a pouch to store used cloth pads if you choose to use them. They would have been so easy to carry around and not have anyone know what was inside.
So along with new clothes and new books this year try out a new menstrual option that may make it easier to be back in school.
Moms — have a pre-teen or teen? You have so much more to offer than what a tampon is. Make sure you talk about how to deal with these moments in school – and don’t try to get through the period talk as quickly as you can. Help expose your daughter to other less main stream products that may be able to help meet the needs of active your girls today. Provide them with samples of a range of products not just the ones you have used. Ask your daughter’s school how they deal with bathroom breaks, challenging them to be sensitive to young women’s needs. Find out what they cover during health class. Also moms – how about you try out a new product as well – if you have confidence using something else, not only might you find a new favorite product but you may be able to help give your daughter(s) a new sense of freedom.
Teachers & Schools — I would also challenge you to be more aware of girls needs. Allowing them to go to the bathroom on demand without waiting 20 minutes for the lesson to be over. Allowing them to carry small bags around with them to make them feel more comfortable. Making periods a less taboo topic and cracking down on the negative period talk. Include comprehensive health education including educating girls about a whole range of menstrual care products – not just today’s standard disposable pads and tampons.
With young lady’s getting their periods earlier and earlier, there is even more of a need to address the needs of young lady’s in schools – even as young as elementary school. With all the products currently on the market there is no reason for young girls to worry about the hassles of school and periods.
Have a great fall semester!
Invitation! On September 14 you are invited to a special online educational event co-hosted by You ARE Loved and Be Prepared Period featuring Jenn as a special guest. This one hour event (2:00 – 3:00 p.m. Eastern) will explore common issues adolescent girls face in preparing for and managing their periods at school and when away from home for activities. Additionally, we will explore some tips for starting an ongoing conversation with your daughter about menstrual matters.
Jenn Leggett is the babywearing, cloth diapering, eco-friendly mom behind Earthy Crunchy Mama, which grew out of her desire to create a healthier life for her children. She understands that her most important job is Mom to 2 beautiful boys, Cole (3) and Max (1). When she is not spending time with her boys, she is working at Earthy Crunchy Mama.