Hi! I’m Demetra, and when I was 11 years old, I got my first period on new year's eve.
I remember crying, feeling embarrassed, and totally unprepared. I was thinking: "Why me? Why now? I don't want this yet! I'm only 11."
Obviously, some of these questions are funny to me now, because it is a natural process, and not as if I was being targeted by something negative. But, at that time, and reflecting back, it is surprising to me that I had such a negative connotation of a period, especially when I was only 11 years old.
To add to the drama, my mom only had a pantyliner with her, so I was stuck with some inadequate coverage. Needless to say, I was embarrassed to walk around my brother and cousins (all boys) in the house during new year's eve, with the fear that my blood would start leaking everywhere.
I'm definitely less embarrassed or shy about it now, but this was a memorable moment, and one that could have been better, had I had the right resources and education to prepare myself.
On November 8, 2021, I was in my apartment in New York, celebrating my birthday alone, sick with COVID-19, and on the first day of my period. I was especially annoyed to have my period at the same time, and although this may seem a bit dramatic, a fever, cough, weak and stiff body, plus period cramps and headaches wasn’t exactly what I had planned for my birthday.
Nonetheless, I took this time to of course complain a bit, and then ultimately reflect. I realized that it was extreme to compare and complain about my period (a natural process) in relation to COVID-19. And, since I had nothing else to do, I allowed my thoughts to wander.
Why did I have such a negative connotation surrounding my period?
I started to think about my first period, all of the embarrassing sporting moments where I had to be taken off the soccer field, how I never properly learned about my health (menstrual or otherwise), how I was always told to hide my pads or tampons and never tell anyone when I was on my period, and the list goes on and on.
I also distinctly recalled a campaign at my previous employer that was all about menstrual health education and its impact on a girl’s self-confidence, performance in school, and beyond. So, taking these thoughts a step further, I began to research “Health education in the US.”
Having lived abroad in several countries, I reflected on the differences in experiences surrounding health in various cultures. I even called my friends to ask about their health education experience. To my surprise, I WAS NOT ALONE!!!
EVERYONE I talked to had similar negative experiences and beyond that, the health education had not improved over the course of 15+ years! I was shocked at the immense gap in education and the impact this has and will continue to have for youth and beyond.
Needless to say, there are several reasons for why I started Puberry, including the following:
1. The US has the Highest STD, STI, and Teen Pregnancy rates of any developed country, and this can be costly!
2. 44% of menstruators don’t know what is happening during their first period and 50% actively hide it from their friends and family.
3. The majority of parents don’t feel equipped or comfortable talking to their kids about puberty.
Puberry is revolutionizing the way that youth learn about their health. Our gamified app coupled with a puberty starter kit aims to eliminate shame and embarrassment surrounding puberty.
So join me in our journey to make learning about health fun so that youth can feel prepared, supported, and confident!