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Menarche: How Your 1st Period Has Influenced Your Health & How To Forge a New Path

Do you remember your first period? Did you feel prepared, happy, or excited? Maybe you felt shocked or embarrassed to tell someone about it. Did your story involve fear or feelings that something was very wrong with your health, your body?

How was your first period received by others? Did you have a woman in your life that explained what was happening and how to take care of yourself during that special time? Were you simply given some tools and told it wasn’t a big deal? Did you get the impression that it was a burden you would now have to bear moving forward? Did you share the event with family members or friends? How did they react? Was there any shame involved in your experience?

These are powerful questions for any of us to explore. After hearing the menarche (first menstrual cycle) stories of hundreds of women I can say that I’m not surprised that most of us have complicated relationships with our bodies.

  • If we did not understand what was happening when we started bleeding it could have set the stage for a sense of disconnection from our bodies and normalized that our inner workings are just meant to be a mystery to us.
  • If we felt embarrassed we might not have then felt comfortable sharing our health concerns with someone else for perspective when we were older, possibly allowing symptoms to snowball into bigger health problems over time.
  • If we felt shamed it’s no wonder why body dysmorphia, unhealthy sexual experiences, or heavily influenced medical choices could have easily entered into the picture.

Our menarche experiences are POWERFUL and can set the stage for our health as teenagers, our fertility journeys, our pregnancy & birth experiences, our postpartum recovery, AND our menopause adventures. Each phase of our lives builds on the last. Our wellness (or lack thereof) is a result of every physical and emotional experience we’ve had thus far.

You may be wondering what can we do at this point, with that important experience so far behind us? Perspective is everything, right? Once we can reflect on these vital connections our health experiences usually make more sense. We can see it as a timeline instead of individual incidences. We have the opportunity to then possibly heal from the past to pave the way for a healthier, more empowered future.

What does the alternative look like? Reverence for the beauty of our bodies and their natural transitions! Many cultures from around the world still honor menarche as the rite of passage that it is.

  • In some south Indian communities family members and friends are invited to grand celebrations where young women are gifted with special food, beautiful clothing, and fine jewelry.
  • Girls from the Amazonian Tikuna tribe (indigenous people who live in Brazil, Colombia, and Peru) spend the three months to a year after their first period living in a private room in the family house focusing on themselves and learning about their rich culture and heritage.
  • Many people indigenous to North America pay tribute to girls’ “coming of age” with a Sunrise Ceremony where they wear symbolic clothing, perform honoring rituals, and are celebrated with a feast.

Let’s make these beautiful practices the norm! One of the services we proudly offer is support in designing a menarche ceremony or celebration for a special girl in your life and their transition into womanhood. Every girl is unique and should be honored in a way that feels right for her. For some a special day or outing with her mom (or another special woman in her life) where she gets to do something new or “grown-up” can be the perfect thing! Another girl might feel more comfortable being the center of attention and want to organize a party/ceremony including all the girls & women in her life. Or maybe all family members and friends, men & women are invited… The possibilities are endless!

In addition to the celebration, it is the perfect time to teach young women about their beautiful bodies and how to incorporate self-care. They are setting the stage for their future health and Hormonal Harmony so timing is really of the essence. I’ve had the honor of teaching many young women about their physiology, nourishing foods, medicinal herbs, and therapeutic techniques that can easily be implemented at home and it warms my heart to reflect on how that information will serve them for years to come!

I’ve also supported women in designing their own rituals or gatherings to honor & celebrate their womanhood! We explore ahead of time what would feel meaningful for them. I ask them to seek out belongings, pictures, or treasures that would be symbolic for them so that they can build an altar. We discuss who they would like to be involved and how. Sometimes it’s a collective gathering where time is prioritized to celebrate each woman in her fabulousness! I can’t tell you how much healing can come from deciding that we have every right to fill in the gaps and CELEBRATE OURSELVES! The motivation to deeply nourish ourselves and be advocates for our health often follows naturally.

This approach can also be very healing when someone decides to transition into womanhood later in life. I love supporting people in consecrating their metamorphosis, proclaiming their new identities, and blessing their future chapters, living as their true selves!

Please reach out if you are feeling inspired to create a memorable experience for yourself or someone special in your life. Let’s lay the foundation for self-love and radical self-care! We’re worth it!

China Rose Zamora is a functional nutritional therapist, clinical herbalist, and yoga teacher who has worked in the holistic health field since 1998 and has proudly served her community as China Rose Wellness since 2009. When she’s not coaching women to rise to their health potential, practicing herbal alchemy, traveling the country via mobile tiny house teaching inspirational workshops to demystify wellness, or co-facilitating transformational retreats with AJ, her-eco warrior partner in adventure, you can find her meandering on the nearest hiking trail or jammin’ at a local, live music venue. China Rose is a firm believer that wellness encompasses everything that nourishes us, body & soul!

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