Mariu Cabral is a psychology student based in Los Angeles, CA. Originally from Venezuela, Mariu contributed to our Everywhere, Period series, where we’re aiming to demystify periods everywhere.
How old were you when you first got your period and what was that experience like?
I was 11 years old and in the 5th grade. I remember I was looking forward to getting my period because some of my friends had already gotten it and their bodies were starting to change and I wanted that for myself too. I thought i was very exciting to become a woman.
In your community, is there much weight given to a girl getting her period? Any rituals or traditions?
No rituals per se, but people do not stigmatize it either. Once you get your period you probably get congratulated by your family and whoever else might know it happened, and then everybody goes on about their day. I did not get flowers (lol) but some of my friends and cousins did, usually from their parents and specifically from their dad which I think it is super cute. People get excited for you—not in a creepy way but more like, they understand this is a big change in a girl’s life and they want you to know that there’s nothing wrong with it.
Do you remember the first product(s) you used to manage your period?
I honestly don’t—Always pads were the most common and they’re what I grew up with, so that’s probably what I used.
How has your experience with your period changed over time?
I always took it as a part of life and did not give much thought to it. Obviously as a teenager, it is a little embarrassing to always be on the lookout for spots and blood stains when you’re wearing your school uniform or white pants, but I have never either hated it or loved it.
I never had an extensive education on what periods were, the woman’s cycle and all that stuff (I embarrassingly still don’t really know the difference between the luteal phase and the other ones). I got off hormonal birth control about four weeks ago. I am starting to learn about my body and my cycle and to love it, whereas before, I just never had a connection with it.
Have you tried or do you use different products to manage your period now?
I always just grabbed whatever was on the pharmacy shelves, but I actually started using Cora tampons about two months ago! I love them. I love that by purchasing them I am giving back and that I am also using the most natural and safest products for my body.
Do you have any special rituals, like a hot bath, using essential oils, or eating certain foods during the week you’re menstruating, that help you manage your period?
Not really! I am blessed in that my period has always been regular and painless for the most part. Sometimes I do strength training, other days I just want to relax, but I do always use my period as an excuse to have extra sugar those days ;).
Do you have any advice for a girl who has just gotten her period?
Knowledge is power! The more you know about your body, the better you can take care of it. Now, at 24, I am still learning and I wish that the little I know now, I would have known before.
Thank you so much, Mariu!