The first time I got my period I was visiting our Nannie for March Break. While she is a lovely woman, she’s not exactly warm and fuzzy (she doesn’t actually have plastic on the furniture, but she might as well) which meant I didn’t feel comfortable telling her what was going on down there. Fortunately our mom had packed some pads in my suitcase “just in case” but it would have been awesome if the care package had included some other things to make the experience a little less daunting. Here are the books I wish I’d had on hand:
- Cycling: A Guide to Menstruation. We adore this cute little book by artist Laura Szumowski. The book is only 68 pages but she manages to pack a lot in. Not only does it do a great job of covering the physiology of menstruation (follicular growth, hormonal levels, etc) but it also covers some simple home remedies, like yoga for cramps and supplements like chasteberry, motherwort, and red raspberry. Although it’s not written specifically for teens, the cartoon format and playful language make it suitable for a wide audience.
- Cycle Savvy. We’re big fans of Taking Charge of Your Fertility, which is considered the ‘bible’ of fertility awareness. However, the textbook style and length aren’t necessarily going to entice teens to pick it up. Fortunately, Toni Weschler has a condensed version called Cycle Savvy written for teens. I don’t know about you, but no one ever told me about cervical mucus. The first time I went to overnight camp I was mortified to put my underwear into the communal laundry. Surely I was the only one that had icky white stuff on their panties! It was only years later that I realized this was totally normal. So much angst could have been avoided if I’d had a copy of this book which explains in detail how to track your whole cycle and understand (and appreciate!) what each kind of discharge represents.
- Deal With It. I never had a copy of this book but my good friend had it and I remember spending hours on her bed going “Really? Our body does that?” One of the things I really appreciate is that the book is based on the website gurl.com and the authors (Esther Drill, Rebecca Odes and Heather McDonald) used real questions from teens to structure the book. This helps to ensure the content is what teens really want to hear about, plus the tone and language is appealing to that demographic. Deal With It has a broader focus than the other books on this list, including a pretty large section on sexuality.
- Little Women's Guide to Personal Power: How to turn your monthly menstruation into the biggest blessing of your life. I recall vividly being in the bathroom stall at school, slowly removing my pad from the liner in the hopes no one would hear the telltale sound and discover I had my period. It’s incredible the stigma that still exists around menstruation, which is why I wish I’d had a copy of this book when I was younger. Unlike Moon Mysteries, Little Women’s Guide is written specifically for young girls and offers a new way to view menstruation. Kyla Plaxton encourages young girls to embrace this powerful time in their cycle and to view it as an opportunity to get clear on their goals and aspirations. The second half of the book offers space to record personal reflections, including a gratitude journal, affirmations, and a list of “dream supporters.”
- Moon Mysteries. We adore this book – the stunning artwork, the personal stories, the beautiful reframing of menstruation as something positive, but I have to admit that 14 year old Kim probably wouldn’t have been so keen. I was too busy hating my body to think that my period could actually be a good thing. That said, I’d like to think that if my mother had included it that I would have at least admired the artwork and that some of the positive imagery might have seeped in.
Kim & Amy Sedgwick love to discuss sex, periods, and all the other things we’re not supposed to talk about. The co-founders of Red Tent Sisters and ecosex.ca, they’ve been featured in every major Canadian news outlet and have become a trusted resource for women seeking natural (effective!) birth control, a more joyful sex life, and an empowered journey to motherhood.