I wish I'd had this illustrated guide to periods as a teenager

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My first period showed up out of the blue like an unwelcome guest that I was highly unprepared for. I didn’t know what I was looking at, what was normal, what was safe to do, or who to talk to.

Most of all, though, I was mortified by the very idea of having blood coming out of my private parts. Could people tell? What if I bled onto my clothes? This embarrassment prevented me from telling literally anyone — even my own mother — for the first few years of my menstruating life. This meant that I didn’t have proper access to period products and had to make do with pads that I pilfered from my mum’s bathroom in the hope she wouldn’t notice. My teenage years were full of makeshift, creative ways of trying (and often failing) to stem the flow of menstrual blood that I was woefully ill-equipped to manage. …

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