Even as a young woman it was clear to me that I wan­ted to talk openly and natu­rally about my (first) period with my family. And that it was espe­cially important to me to talk openly with my child­ren to break the taboo of the first period. 

In addi­tion to our con­ver­sa­ti­ons, I han­ded my daugh­ters a book that exp­lains mens­trua­tion pro­foundly. Not just the bio­lo­gi­cal facts or how to deal with hygiene pro­ducts. A book that under­stands mens­trua­tion as a tran­si­tion from girl to woman and marks this tran­si­tion as some­thing spe­cial. I was only able to find this book in Eng­lish and so I took the chance to trans­late it into Ger­man: “Dem Mond so nah” (Close to the moon) was publis­hed this summer.

Here is my per­so­nal story:

Period taboo, first-period-taboo, period, menstruation, first menstruation, moon cycle, menstrual cycle awareness

Photo Credits: Katja

Eagerly awaited: My first menstruation

The sub­ject of mens­trua­tion was an incredi­bly fasci­na­ting one for me as a young girl, just before ent­e­ring my teens. The­re­fore I read ever­ything I could get my hands on about this topic. But except for the most important bio­lo­gi­cal facts in school and a youth ency­clo­pe­dia, which I found in my par­ents’ books­helf, I didn’t feel very enligh­ted. Addi­tio­nally, of course, you could find a lot of infor­ma­tion in the then fashion­able maga­zi­nes Bravo, Girl! or Mäd­chen. Nevertheless, the first period was a taboo sub­ject. I don’t remem­ber anyone tal­king openly about it in my family. Even my older sis­ter didn’t tell me when she had her first period. People sim­ply kept quiet about the sub­ject as much as possible.

None­theless, I was liter­ally feve­rishly awai­t­ing my first mens­trua­tion. For me, this entry into woman­hood had some­thing magi­cal and spe­cial about it. It felt to me as if I was ent­e­ring a new world.

No reason to celebrate? The taboo of the first period

I’m all the more sur­pri­sed that today, I actually can’t remem­ber my very first blee­ding: I can only remem­ber that I was 12 years. Maybe I can’t really remem­ber because I felt I couldn’t really talk openly about it with anyone at the time. Or maybe because the first blee­ding was not seen as some­thing posi­tive or even a rea­son to cele­brate neit­her in our family nor in my whole environment.

At that time, peri­ods were sim­ply some­thing a girl gets for the first time bet­ween the ages 11 and 14. We were told about hygiene pro­ducts and how to use them, and that it makes sense to take notes about the onset and dura­tion of your blee­ding to keep track of the cycle.

The birth control pill

Later, most girls took the birth con­trol pill, so there was no need to keep track any­more. Nowa­days, I’m per­so­nally quite cri­ti­cal of the birth con­trol pill and other hor­mo­nal con­tracep­tive methodsPeople often spoke dis­pa­ra­gin­gly about mens­trua­tion. Girls and women com­p­lai­ned about having their period “again” and how annoy­ing it was. To some, the blee­ding was dis­gus­ting and the­re­fore tried to avoid it com­ple­tely by taking the birth con­trol pill. 

New body awareness

By the time I was an adult and had become a mother, my rela­ti­ons­hip to my body and thus also to my peri­ods had com­ple­tely chan­ged. It began when I stop­ped taking the birth con­trol pill in my mid-20s and the­re­fore found my way back to my natu­ral cycle, which was sup­pres­sed by taking the pill. 

A few years ago, I then began to occupy mys­elf more inten­si­vely with the topic of mens­trua­tion again. Not least for the rea­son that my oldest daugh­ter slowly came into the age where she began to be inte­res­ted in the topic of the first period and star­ted to ask more ques­ti­ons. But also because I felt that this topic is still a taboo for many young girls, women and espe­cially mothers. I was also par­ti­cu­larly inte­res­ted in the role of the moon in rela­tion to the rhythm of my cycle, as well as the dif­fe­rent pha­ses that I could per­ceive each month based on my emo­ti­ons and thoughts. I star­ted rea­ding a lot about these topics and obser­ved mys­elf and my body very closely.

Menstruation, erste Menstruation, Tabuthema Menstruation, Periode, erste Periode, dem Mond so nah, Bücher über Menstruation, Zyklusbewusstsein, Mondzyklus, Vulvani, Menarche, first period, cycle awareness, books about periods, Lucy H Pearce, Reaching for the moon

Photo Credits: Katja

A book to guide the way to fight the taboo of the first period

Since we love books, I felt a great need to give my daugh­ters one that con­veys a posi­tive and empowe­ring rela­ti­ons­hip with their bodies and mens­trua­tion. Some­thing that cap­tures the magic of chan­ging from a girl to a woman, yet is prac­ti­cal and down to earth. A book so com­pre­hen­sive, that it can be seen as a guide for young girls on their way to beco­m­ing women. But at that time, I couldn’t find a book in Ger­man which met these requi­re­ments. That genui­nely put into words what I felt inside me in rela­tion to menstruation.

Since I already knew the Eng­lish book “Reaching for the moon”  by the Irish aut­hor Lucy H. Pearce and thought it was great, I con­ta­c­ted her and asked whe­ther this book would also be publis­hed in Ger­man in the near future, which she denied. I spon­ta­ne­ously recei­ved the offer to trans­late this book into Ger­man and immedia­tely accepted.

A journey to a new world

With this trans­la­tion and the deeper dive into the topic of mens­trua­tion, an intense jour­ney star­ted: to mys­elf, to my body and to my cycle. This jour­ney led me to insights about female princi­ples and to a time when the tran­si­tion from girl to woman was still mar­ked by ritu­als and cele­bra­ti­ons. I could liter­ally feel my body con­nec­ting to the rhythms of nature – stron­ger than ever. A con­nec­tion that felt somehow sac­red. Exactly what I had felt as a young girl…namely, that as a girl you enter a new world at the onset of mens­trua­tion. In addi­tion, there was some­thing enor­mously healing about lear­ning a dif­fe­rent, loving and posi­tive way of dealing with mens­trua­tion as an adult woman and mother.

The female cycle and the moon

The Ger­man title of the book “Dem Mond so nah” (“So Close to the Moon”) very vividly descri­bes the con­nec­tions bet­ween the female cycle and the pha­ses of the moon. It starts with a fic­tio­nal jour­ney to a red tent. A place where women and girls tra­di­tio­nally met once or several times a month to cele­brate being a woman, and the­re­fore also mens­trua­tion, in a spe­cial way. The book also descri­bes the phy­si­cal chan­ges before the onset of the first period. But also during the cycle, such as chan­ged vagi­nal discharge, as well as chan­ged moods and energy levels. It also addres­ses hygiene pro­ducts (espe­cially alter­na­tive hygiene pro­ducts), as well as natu­ral reme­dies for dis­com­fort while mens­trua­ting. In great detail, it descri­bes the sta­ges that all women go through during their cycle. I immedia­tely reco­gni­zed mys­elf in these descrip­ti­ons and felt an invi­si­ble bond con­nec­ting all women.

To me, the book is a real tre­a­sure for young girls, but also for adult women. It offers so much know­ledge and wis­dom about under­stan­ding and con­fi­dently dealing with one’s own cycle. At the same time, it is writ­ten in a very sen­si­tive way, easy to read and under­stand. I am con­vin­ced that books like this help to break the taboo of the first period.

The rhythms of nature

Today I have a very natu­ral rela­ti­ons­hip with my female cycle. I feel so stron­gly con­nec­ted to my body and my cycle that I can clearly feel the indi­vi­dual cycle pha­ses. I know when my ovu­la­tion takes place and when my period arri­ves, navi­ga­ted by the moon. Because – as I have lear­ned – it can be a guide and its pha­ses are simi­lar to those of my cycle. Having such a strong con­nec­tion to the rhythms of nature has actually ope­ned up new worlds for me. 

Even during my cur­rent pregnancy I feel this con­nec­tion clearly – and: I am already trans­la­ting the next book by Lucy H. Pearce on the sub­ject of mens­trua­tion. But this time for adult women, because for me, the taboo around mens­trua­tion and the female cycle belongs to be cras­hed, so that we as women can find a new, strong self-con­fi­dence and dis­card the shame that usually revol­ves around our mon­thly bleeding.

Menstruation, erste Menstruation, Tabuthema Menstruation, Periode, erste Periode, dem Mond so nah, Bücher über Menstruation, Zyklusbewusstsein, Mondzyklus
coach, intui­tion- and rela­ti­ons­hip trai­ner for women | Web­site | + posts

Katja Schmid is mar­ried, mother of four child­ren and lives in Sou­thern Ger­many. For over eight years she has been working as a coach, intui­tion- and rela­ti­ons­hip trai­ner for women. The self-con­fi­dent hand­ling of fee­lings, one's own body as well as a life in har­mony with one's own rhythms and those of nature form a cen­tral core in Katja's work. Cur­r­ently she focu­ses on her family, her blog and trans­la­ting empowe­ring books for girls and women.