My Daughter’s First Period

“I got my period,” my daughter whispered to me on Saturday evening as we were getting ready to go out for dinner.

My heart leapt. I had been waiting for this. I got my first period at the age of twelve and it had been on my mind since my daughter’s twelfth birthday. I had a box of organic napkins stashed in my closet for a whole year, just for her. I even brought it along when we went camping last summer. Now a few weeks past her thirteenth birthday, her first period arrived.

I was glad I was with her. I was glad she was home. I went in the bathroom with her and showed her how to stick the napkin with the wings on her panties, then I left her alone. We all got ready to go out. The evening turned from just another Saturday evening together as a family into a secret celebration.

After dinner, my husband bought her six red roses and I bought her some dark chocolate, her favorite. We did not speak of it. She’s secretive and quick to roll her eyes at anything she deems embarrassing. We put our little offerings out on the kitchen island for her the way we would leave food out for skittish wild animals.

My daughter's first period

On Sunday she met up with some friends at the ice skating rink. When she got home, her best friend came over to visit for the last time. Her best friend’s family is moving to Florida in the next few days. My daughter baked a strawberry shortcake. The four of us had a little cake party. Without fanfare we had a farewell party for not only her best friend, but my daughter’s childhood as well.

I am writing this with tears in my eyes. I am in awe of the beautiful person my child is and is becoming. I am honored and graced by her presence. My daughter is a powerful force of nature, a wise old soul with one of the sharpest bullshit detectors I’ve ever seen in a human, and now she’s a woman. The world is richer because of her.

If you have a daughter who is expecting her first period, here are 5 ways to prepare:

  1. Normalize the period. I started at birth. I was a work-at-home mom who toted my daughter with me always and everywhere. I wore her in a sling, a front pack, a back pack. When I went to the restroom, she went, too. It made potty training easy by being an example to her. The word “period” was part of her vocabulary pretty soon after she learned to talk. Don’t worry if your situation is different from mine. It’s not too late to start the conversation.
  2. Open the door to discussion. There is room for silly stories about storks and angels, but serious questions about sex and reproduction, no matter how young they were when they asked, should be answered honestly in an age-appropriate manner. Remember, you want to present yourself as a credible resource for information. If you don’t know the answer, google it.
  3. Stock up on supplies. Your daughter’s period will come at pretty much the same age as the mother. Keep a box of menstrual products in the bathroom cabinet. Pack a stash when going on trips, sleepovers, or even just in her school backpack. You never know when Aunt Flo is going to show up. Having supplies handy can make a difference in your daughter’s self-esteem during this stage in her life when embarrassment equals death.
  4. Don’t be pushy. Public schools have sex education classes. Even the all-girls Catholic school I went to had sex education classes. Whenever I started any conversation about menstruation with my daughter starting at age twelve, she interrupted me with, “I already know that.” Just back off. Don’t insist you have something more to teach her at that point. Let her know you’re there for her when she needs you.
  5. Encourage her to keep a calendar. There are period tracker apps available so that she can mark down her periods. She will be irregular for a while, but it may help her become more in tune with her body’s cycles.

Can you add anything else to the list above? How did you prepare your daughter for her first period? How did you celebrate it?

Dear Aunt Flo,

This is a record-breaking four-week visit! You’ve never stayed this long before. At first I was really glad you came because it had been so long (47 days to be exact) since you came around again, but now you are way overstaying your welcome.

menstrual cycle calendar menstruation forever

I guess I shouldn’t complain. You’ve been a punctual friend over the years, visiting when you’re expected, leaving promptly after four to five days. I’d come to rely on you and enjoy your visits. If you’re being a bit erratic lately, not showing up on time or staying way too long, it’s probably because we’re getting closer to saying goodbye to each other and it’s tough. For both of us.

I get more than a little bit emotional about you going away for good. I’m struck with fear and sadness at the thought of growing old and dying. Mentally I want to clutch tightly at your legs and beg you not to go. Don’t leave me. Please. In reality I’m annoyed at the inconvenience that has dragged on this long. I mean, I still manage to have a sex life, but you hold me back from giving it my all. Worries about staining sheets, partners’ reactions to blood… you know how it goes.

I’m trying not to flip out about your prolonged stay. I’ve googled it. Apparently it’s normal for this stage. I’m not going to drug myself or get a hysterectomy.

I’m going to love you. I’m going to cherish your visits. And I don’t care how long you go away in between, I’ll be happy to see you whenever you come around. I’ll treat you like it may be the last time I’ll ever see you.

I love you, you dirty bitch!

Dear Aunt Flo writing with dip pen and menstrual blood

P.S. Here’s a haiku for you.

Writing in Blood

Signing my book, Lilith: Queen of the Demons, in blood inspired me to play with my blood again. Because I haven’t been for a while now. I’ve been doing the normal thing, dumping it in the loo, washing my cup out, putting it back in. Neat and clean, because I have so much to do that matters more. The sooner I’m done with this, the better.

Except this really matters to me, more so now that I feel my reproductive cycles waning. I don’t know how many more periods I will have in my life. I do know that it will eventually end, and it makes me more than a little bit sad.

My past two cycles have been longer than usual. I miss Aunt Flo terribly when she’s late.

May Ling Su On My Period

On My Period May Ling Su

So I’m writing. I’ve got a set of dip pens and when I have enough blood collected in my cup I dip one of them in and write. It makes me feel witchy and primordial. Like Lilith.

Dip pen and #menstrual #blood. It’s the new thing #onmyperiod.

A photo posted by May Ling Su (@maylingsu) on

Signed in Blood

I pulled an overflowing menstrual cup out and spilled a gush of blood at my feet. It’s heavier than usual, and I’m quick to blame the supermoon, the closest the moon has been in my lifetime.

I had my dip pen ready, and a scrap of paper to practice writing on. I received a request to sign a Lilith: Queen of the Demons paperback in menstrual blood. It’s a brilliant idea. I can’t believe I didn’t think of it before.

Lilith: Queen of the Demons paperback signed in menstrual blood by May Ling Su

My blood was surprisingly watery. I worried that it wouldn’t be dark enough to sufficiently make a mark. It looked thick and clotty at the bottom of the cup so I poured a bit of it out, but it yielded the same consistency on the page.

I decided to trust it. My blood has never let me down. It showed up whenever I painted on paper or on my skin. I held the page open with a paperweight till it dried a darker red. Now I have a Lilith: Queen of the Demons book signed in supermoon blood going out in the mail tomorrow.

Dip pen in #supermoon #blood and sign #Lilith #book. Hope I didn’t just make a horcrux. #onmyperiod

A photo posted by May Ling Su (@maylingsu) on

I joke about having possibly made a horcrux out of a Lilith: Queen of the Demons book signed with supermoon blood, but to be honest, I feel a deep loss from having to let go off such an intimate part of me. This book is now more magical than ever. Cherish it well, you who will receive it. Part of the moon and me will be in it always.

May Ling Su raises her menstrual cup to life. Cheers!


How do you like to bleed?

Peek into what the bloody hell women have been using on their periods for the past 5000 years, and the past 100 years. The last three decades on my period, I’ve used pads, tampons, rags, and sponges. I’ve lounged around naked and free flowed. Nowadays I’ve been using the silicone menstrual cup paired with Thinx panties. This combination wins for me because it is reusable, therefore more economical and ecological.

The initial investment may be more expensive than a box of tampons but it pays off in the long run. Thinx panties range between $24 for a pair of thongs rated for light flow to $38 for a pair of high-waist panties rated for medium flow. The heavy flow hiphuggers are $34. I prefer the sport panties for medium flow, which set me back $32 a pair.

But before you whip out your credit card, there is competition in Dear Kate, which markets panties for light menstrual days, leakage, and incontinence. I haven’t tried their collections, but they offer a wider variety of styles and colors to choose from.

I’ve free flowed on my sport Thinx on day one and toward the end of my period. I’ve leaked on them on my heaviest days. The panties are not completely dry on the surface touching my body. There is moisture. I wipe it off with toilet paper and carry on. What it does well is keeps me from bleeding through to my clothes.

Menstrual cups range in price between $16 for the Iris Cup to approximately $120 for the Size B Moon Cup. I use Diva Cup, which is mid-priced at $30 and recently advertised that they are available now at Target. Woohoo! Menstrual cups are going mainstream!

I’d still love to have a more ecological answer to the menstrual cup. I love that it’s reusable, but maybe someday it could be made from a medical-grade material that is biodegradable. Until then, here is the Wonderful World of Period Patents to inspire us on our quest to invent the breakthrough menstrual product of the century.

On My Period on Facebook

A 20-year-old law student from India wrote an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg asking him to add an “On My Period” button to Facebook’s status updates. Arushi Dua believes that an “On My Period” button on Facebook would promote openness in discussion of menstruation and hopefully change people’s attitude of shame toward it.

On My Period button on Facebook

While I’d love to see an “On My Period” button on Facebook, what I found most interesting about the article was her frustration with the age-old irony that society encourages (and in her culture, expects) women to have children, yet shames them for menstruating. Don’t they see that menstruation and childbearing are part of the same cycle?

Immediately after I gave birth, I spent a whole month bleeding, then nothing for almost a year. I learned that breastfeeding my child caused a delay in the return of my period. My body wisdom focused my energy toward my baby, before I was ready for a new ovulation cycle.

During that time I didn’t get my periods, I realized that in cultures in which women bear children one after another, menstruation would be a rare occurrence. If a woman is healthy, she could be with child as soon as a new ovulation cycle begins again, or at least within the next couple of cycles.

In a culture that values fertility, menstruation would be considered shameful because it signifies that a woman is either incapable of being pregnant or rebelling against her role in society. Whether she is barren by choice or by fate, a woman’s blood is seen as a failure to be a productive member of her community.

As the world shifts in paradigm from populating the earth to that of population “control,” women are spending less time being pregnant and more time menstruating. As uncomfortable as it feels for those still in the previous mindset, menstruation occurs more often in a woman’s life than it did before. It only makes sense that it becomes more a part of our society’s consciousness and conversations.

Hashtag #OnMyPeriod is already well-used on Twitter and Instagram. Do you think there should be an “On My Period” button on Facebook status updates? How would your social media conversations change?

Who says menstruating women have bad taste?

Raise your menstrual cups and toast to 2015 being the year of the period. Cheers! 2016 is off to a great start as women continue to fight menstruation myths through diligence and a sense of humor.

College Humor pokes fun at menstruation myths. I mean, who doesn’t know menstruation is the only thing stopping our personal demons from bringing on the apocalypse? So be good to your resident females and keep that toilet lid down. You don’t want snakes and alligators crawling out of the toilet and into your home.

Women sushi chefs have good taste! Nadeshiko Sushi in Tokyo is run by women and employs female sushi chefs, much to the chagrin of competitors who insist that women “have an imbalance in their taste” due to the menstrual cycle. Despite the criticism, Nadeshiko Sushi has been going strong since 2010. Here’s wishing them more success in 2016.

May Ling Su can taste a strawberry even while on her period.

I reposted Menstruation Links I’ve been collecting all these years. Thank you, Jessica, for alerting me to broken links. Jessica volunteers for, an organization that helps women become and stay tobacco-free, and, a women’s health website.

The Dark Side

“For each of us as women, there is a dark place within where, hidden and growing, our true spirit rises… These places of possibility within ourselves are dark because they are ancient and hidden; they have survived and grown strong through that darkness. Within these deep places, each one of us holds an incredible reserve of creativity and power, of unexamined and unrecorded emotion and feeling. The woman’s place of power within each of us is neither white nor surface; it is dark, it is ancient, and it is deep.”

– Audre Lorde

These are powerful words to end and begin another year, another month, another cycle.

In this blog I will focus on self-care, that deep dark place where I rest and rejuvenate myself. I’ve come to see my period as that time and place. I began my journey at odds with my body, full of PMS rage. Month after month I found creative ways to explore and meditate on my menstrual blood. As I approach my last decade or so of menstruation, I am so much more at ease with my body and my period. I’m sure many more changes are afoot, but I have grown in experience and patience with my body. I have “an incredible reserve of creativity and power.”

So here is my list of how I can better care for myself on my period in 2016. Feel free to do it, too.

  1. Sleep. I fight this all the time. There is so much more to do, I tell myself. But sleep is that deep dark place that holds our dreams, our creative energy, our power.
  2. Eat more mindfully. I reposted Nutrition and Care for the Menstruating Woman as a guide. I still think the whole of it is unattainable. I admit, I do love my chocolate and sugar fix. But I’ll put in greater effort this year.
  3. Take control of the screen. Staring into a monitor can’t be good for a woman who needs her dark time. Flowers bloom in the dark. So do we. Be more efficient with the use of the computer and devices. Be clear with tasks. Set a timer when surfing.
  4. Exercise. For me it’s house and yard work, going on photo walks/hikes, Wii Fit, yoga. You do you.
  5. Listen to and play more music. Every time I do, I wonder why I don’t do it more often. Also, listen with headphones, eyes closed. Motherhood has made me put away the headphones in favor of being available to every call of “Mama,” but now that we’re all grown, I need to put the headphones back on and treat myself to music I love.

Happy New Year to all!

A toast to the dark side, menstruation, and being a woman. Cheers!

It’s not a “smart” menstrual cup. It’s loony!

When I first saw the Kickstarter campaign for Looncup, “the world’s first SMART menstrual cup” I dismissed it immediately as ridiculous. Who can resist making iBleed jokes?


But it’s one thing for a South Korean man named Ryong Hwang to develop a way to stick an antenna up his girlfriend’s vagina, it’s another when over 3,000 backers pledge almost $150,000 with only ten days to go, a whole slew of mainstream media outlets herald it as the best thing that’s ever happened to menstruation, and Kickstarter itself declares it a Staff Pick. It’s like the world has gone loony!

Loon Lab, Inc., based in San Francisco and Seoul, embedded into the base of a silicone menstrual cup a sensor, a non-rechargeable battery and a Bluetooth antenna that communicates with a mobile app to tell the user how full the cup is, remind her when to refresh, and tracks her menstrual blood volume, color and cycles. Imagine the possibilities of auto-posting #LiveTweetYourPeriod updates!

The main problem with this particular piece of wearable tech is that all this data is non-essential. Loon Lab co-founder Kate Lee tries to spin the potential benefits of this precise (over)analyzing of menstruation by citing more efficient diagnosis of uterine fibroids or premature ovarian failure but OB-GYN Dr. Jen Gunter is not buying it. “It’s a level of detail that isn’t needed. Ever.”

Without being able to satisfy my question of “Why?” I can’t see putting up with the more design-oriented problems with the Looncup.

The antenna is built into the stem at the base of the cup, and instructions state that in order for the antenna to work, it has to remain outside the vagina, a departure from the way “sane” menstrual cups are inserted all the way in. I happen to find my DivaCup very comfortable all the way inside me, and would hate to have a silicone nub sticking out from between my labia. I’m not sure what kind of maneuvers one can do to keep the Looncup from riding deeper in or the gadgetry from being damaged while being folded and squeezed into the vagina, but I’m not backing them to find out.

The battery is non-rechargeable, and is predicted to last about 6 months. Despite suggestions from potential backers to use induction technology with a rechargeable battery, Loon Lab is releasing Looncup 1.0 as is, expecting their backers to be satisfied with a “dumb” cup after the battery runs out in 6 cycles, or hey, buy several! It’s only non-biodegradable and contains parts that make it a toxic disposal to the environment. “Sane” menstrual cups last years with proper care, giving the user a hell of a lot more wear for the environmental and financial cost.

Boiling the Looncup is forbidden, as is wearing it while passing through airport security, obvious limitations presented by the technology built into it.

Loon Lab states “no adverse health effects directly related to signal,” but there are no peer-reviewed scientific studies to back it up. The FDA has recently given the go-ahead for menstrual cups to be marketed without prior notification requirements, but not if it has a substantially different characteristic, like say, an antenna, battery and sensor built into it. Of course, it may only be a matter of time and several million dollars before FDA approves the sale of the Looncup, despite WHO concerns about electromagnetic fields and public health.

What is heartening about this campaign, however, is the way mainstream media has normalized the menstrual cup to the general public. Note that Looncup’s marketing bullet points list advantages that have nothing to do with the gadgetry built into it. All the points apply to all menstrual cups, with a couple more pros for a cup sans tech.

Pads and Tampons vs. Menstrual Cups

Make wise choices for your body. The smarter menstrual cup is the one you already have. Curious about trying one? Check out the brands already available on the market.

My #cup. #onmyperiod #menstruation #menstrualcup #menstrualhygiene #blood #menstrualblood #period

A photo posted by May Ling Su (@maylingsu) on

Super Blood Moon

Super Blood Moon 27 September 2015

What a spectacle Mother Nature treated us to on Sunday night. We built a fire in the backyard, got sleeping bags out on the lawn and watched the super moon get totally eclipsed and turn red. I felt a personal connection to her, as close as could be and bleeding beautifully for us. So like a woman.

Now if only the rest of the world would celebrate menstruation the way they celebrate the Super Blood Moon. Here are a handful of links to what the world thinks of menstruation:

The U.N. is still afraid of the “M” word. It’s 2015, and the U.N.’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals still only alludes to addressing the needs of menstruating girls and women. We’ve only been menstruating for the entire history of human existence. How about a source of clean water and a private place to wash ourselves and our linens in?

Swedish teens’ menstruation-theme photo goes viral after principal bans it from high school yearbook. When will grown-ups learn? Banning something is the best way to have a global news article explode in your face. Also, the kids used fake blood, no different from a Halloween costume. Nervous much?

Women around the world are challenging menstruation stigma. This article is an excellent wrap up of current events that bring the topic of menstruation front and center in the public consciousness.

Menstruation 101 for Men. Or a refresher course, depending on your knowledge and level of experience.

“Period Barbie” misses the target. Let’s start with the target user: girls approaching menstruation, approximately 10 to 15 years old. I don’t want to generalize, and if you or someone you know is an exception, more power to you, but I don’t personally know any girl this age who still plays with dolls. And I know because my daughter falls in this age bracket. (My husband, on the other hand, loves dolls. Go figure.) So if you want to look like an idiot in front of your tween, like the parents in their ad, then you’re the target market for the Lammily Period Party doll. Or you can just be real, communicate openly and honestly, so that your daughters can trust you to be a supportive resource for information about all the physical and social changes that are about to take place.