Menarche, or first period, is a time of profound change, the beginning of 35 to 40 years of fertility, cycling and menstruation.
This is a time celebrated in many cultures as a rite of passage into a new stage of life with new rights, responsibilities, knowledge and possibilities. Menarche is a vulnerable time, as all thresholds are, and attitudes and circumstances at this time can impact negatively or positively on later menstrual experiences.
Commonplace as menstruation is, the transformation of a child’s body into one that can bring forth new life is momentous. A girl is unlikely to be planning to have her first child, nor will her practising fertility body be likely to be able to conceive just yet (although of course, some do), however this capacity is nonetheless powerful and transforming in and of itself.
As you guide girls on their journey to get to know their own menstrual cycle, be open, creative and honest. Foster an environment where it’s easy to communicate about menstruation.
Girls who have a positive experience of menarche and their ongoing menstrual cycle are able to grow into the in-drawing centredness, the confidence, the groundedness, that conscious, positive and healthy menstruating can offer. Menstruation is an aspect of their blossoming sexuality, an inward time to be with themselves, a time to explore their changes and start to get to know the fertile and infertile times of their menstrual cycle, before they embark on sexual relationships.
By honouring menstruation, in practical and philosophical ways, we can improve our own experience of menstruation and discover the hidden creative potential of our emotional and energetic rhythms.
As we explore our own experiences of menarche, menstruation and fertility, the influences of family and culture, and by getting to know, make friends with and honour our own cycle, we are better able to support the girls in our care to achieve a healthy menstrual experience. An experience of a blessing, not a curse.
Article by Jane Bennett, adapted from A Blessing Not a Curse