My Menarche (2018 – 19)

Menarche: The first menstrual bleed. Often considered the onset of female puberty as it signals the possibility of fertility.


A participatory project collecting women’s experiences of their menarche, celebrating this transition and challenging taboos around talking about periods.

I have two daughters, when they reach puberty I want to find positive ways to celebrate this transition and welcome them into womanhood. As a child of the 70’s in a fairly repressed family, I was given little support or information about menarche and puberty. It certainly wasn’t seen as something to celebrate. Over the years I have come to better understand and tune in to my menstrual cycle, and find this deeper understanding incredibly empowering; supporting my creative work, emotional world and relationships. This is the place I would like to welcome my daughters to.

Previously a taboo subject, menstrual cycles, periods and sanitary wear are becoming more readily, and politically, discussed. My Menarche supports this shift, giving women of all ages and cultures a space to share their personal experience of the menarche transition.

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Read the Stories

S, born 1953: “your friend has come”

When I was little earwigging on my mum’s talk with her neighbours she would say her “friend had come”.  And I used to think, what friend? Later seeing washing lines of dusters(?) on those neighbour’s lines I was told they were for your friend. Later again I was given a…

J born 1954, “I was so scared that blood would leak out”

My first period came when I was 14 years old. I remember feeling relieved as most of my friends already had periods. I felt embarrassed to tell my mum as we hadn’t spoken about it much – I had learned about it from my friends. My mum gave me some…

M born 1979, “I started my period that day. It kind of made it all ok”

Despite mum and dad saying they’d keep their divorce civil for the sake of us kids, they didn’t. I was 14 and it was a difficult time, made worse by a friend asking every morning when I arrived at school: ‘what’s the latest gossip’? Referring to the continual angst between…

J born 1944 “as I walked the towel would wag like a dog”

I was 14 before my periods started, At the time I was a pupil at a large comprehensive school full of thousands of girls. I was the last to start in my class of 32 girls. I remember the humiliation of my gym teacher making us girls put up our hands in…

S born 1952 “My knowledge was incredibly limited”

I was a teenager in the 1960’s.  We didn’t have sex education at primary school, and I’m not sure that we did at secondary school either, but somehow I had picked up the basic information that periods happen.  My first period came when I was 14, and at school.  It…

Amy, born 1976 “I was confused and then devastated”

When I was twelve years old I came in from riding my horse, which I did every day, went to the loo and noticed blood in my pants. I took them off without thinking anything of it, apart from that I rode mostly bareback so maybe I had cut myself…

P born 1974 “curled up inside with embarrassment”

When I was in my early teens, I found a book called ‘Have you started yet?’ in the house. Whether it had been put there for me to find, or more likely belonged to my elder sister, I didn’t know. It was the only information I was given about periods….

J, Born 1976, “I came on in the middle of the night”

I think I was 13 when my periods started. I came on in the middle of the night – waking and taking myself to the toilet. I imagine I stuffed toilet paper in my pants. I certainly didn’t wake my mother or share with her. I didn’t really know what to expect, though I…

B, born 1978 “it is a powerful force of femininity “

I genuinely don’t remember my own Menarche – I have tried really hard to picture or pinpoint it, but I have no idea. Whenever it was it can’t have been recognised, let alone celebrated. In a house of 4 women and me the youngest I think I probably knew where…

Eva, born 1984 “I felt awkward and paranoid”

I was 12 when I got my first period, on a holiday camp where I was predominantly riding horses. Good times. I was a very -aware- little girl, so I had tampons in my luggage, and used them without incident.The issue was that I felt -dirty-. I had none of…

Submit Your Story

Prompts: What age were you when your period started? Did you know what to expect? Were you supported – practically, emotionally? How did you feel? Who did you tell? Was it a positive experience? How would you support a teenager through Menarche today?
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