The Hard Truth About Getting Our First Periods . . . and What Parents Can Learn

There are a number of formative moments that most women will never forget: their almost-debilitating first crush, being emboldened by their first french kiss, and, of course, their first period. Whether it came as a complete surprise to you or you were the last in your group when you finally started menstruating, chances are reflecting back on that moment — that day — still puts a smile on your face. The awkwardness (and likely the horror) that ensued was a critical experience for all of us.

Because no two period stories are alike, we tapped four POPSUGAR editors to ask them what really went down. Hopefully it'll help parents prepare in all ways for the upcoming school year.

My mom insisted I wear white jeans.

The story: I had just gotten accepted into my city's well-known private high school and couldn't be happier. Before school started, every student had to take placement tests to determine classes. On the day of the placement tests, and the day I was going to meet all of my fellow classmates, I got my period. I was happy it had finally come, but seriously? Did it have to be today, God?

While there was no dress code required to take the placement test, the school itself had a dress code that said no dark jeans. I told my mom that I was allowed to wear whatever I wanted to take the test, but she INSISTED that I wear white jeans. We loaded me up with multiple maxi pads — it felt like I was wearing a diaper. I should've been fine, right? But when the test was over, I could feel that something was wrong. My new classmates were staring at me strangely. I sprinted to the nearest bathroom, where I realized with horror that I had bled through my WHITE pants! It's been five years and I still wish my mom had been more understanding of me that day. — Caroline Parkinson, intern

Finding a book together on it really helped.

The story: I'm in fourth grade (I know, what hormones were in my milk that I got it so young?!). I'm in school. I have to poop. I can usually poop anywhere (my special talent), but for some reason, when I go to the bathroom, nothing comes out. I think: OK, maybe I just have a bit of poo anxiety.

I go home, sit on the toilet for 30 minutes. Still nothing. Then, I look down and I have my first period. I didn't have to poop, it was just cramps. My mother was supportive and lovely and took me to Barnes & Noble to buy Chicken Soup For the Teenage Soul. I just wish she hadn't said, "You're a woman now!," because I was 9 years old. That's a lot of responsibility. — Alaina Demopoulos, junior writer, Beauty

I got to show my mom I was mature.

I got to show my mom I was mature.

The story: I was 13 and in the eighth grade. It was about a week after our class took reproductive education classes, so the information was fresh in my head. I remember being quite methodical; I felt like something was happening down there, asked to go to the restroom, realized there was blood in my underwear, and was just like, "Well, guess I better get to the nurse's office!" I was happy, but overall I just felt different; older, more mature.

My best friend and I went straight to her house after school, where she showed me how tampons work by dipping one in a glass of water, which still cracks me up to this day. After that tutorial, I went home and told my mom, who was really excited and only slightly less dramatic than the school nurse had been. She cried, and we hugged, and I told her that I already learned how to use tampons so I didn't need her help with anything. So mature! — Britt Stephens, senior editor, Celebrity and Entertainment

Mom taught me a helpful calendar trick.

The story: I was in sixth grade taking a bathroom break during my jazz class and saw a little spotting and ignorantly/hilariously thought maybe it was an odd side effect of practicing splits for the past 20 minutes. I woke up the following morning to a huge surprise.

My mom was great — tucked some pads into my backpack, marked it on the calendar with a "P" so I could keep track just like she did (who knew?), and made me feel like a grown-up! In retrospect, that was such a good approach. I was one of my first friends to get it, and I broke the news in the locker room when changing for field hockey practice with an oh-so-cool-and-casual "ugh I have such bad cramps today." Aka "I'm a woman now, jealous?" — Joanna Douglas, senior editorial director, Native