Hair is popping up in places you didn’t know was possible. Your boobs are sore. Your vagina is dry. Bloating, headaches, irritability, and mood changes are all over the place. Whether we talk about them or not, the fact remains that people with vaginas have to deal with these very real symptoms because of their vaginas and the hormonal fluctuations that come along with life’s transitional stages — puberty to menopause and everything between and beyond.
Unfortunately, many of us still feel uncomfortable having these conversation with our peers, our parents, and even our partners, or don't know who to ask questions about well, anything to do with our vaginas. Why? Sex education is sub-par to say the least. And while there have been movements to take the shame out of the (completely normal, everyday) experiences people with vaginas regularly manage like menstruation or masturbation, taboos about our sexual and reproductive health still carry a strong stigma — especially when considering your culture, age, family, or religion.
The more we understand the intersection of our sexual, reproductive, and mental health and how to care for ourselves, the safer we all are. To get to that place, we have to start talking about our bodies — all bodies — and these periods of transition without shame, stigma, or scare tactics.
Below are “taboo” questions we asked about your personal experiences with puberty, pregnancy, and peri/menopause that we’re determined to discuss. To all who participated in the community conversation, thank you — you’re not alone in your experiences, and you helped us in helping you.
We’re just beginning to scratch the surface of this sexual re-education, so let’s keep the candid conversation going with your questions, concerns, and comments. Nothing is off the table.
For everybody at every age. SHOP PROBIOTIC
Puberty: The Hardest Things To Deal With, According to YouWe know it's hard. It's okay though. Everyone was awkward.
Just always hating my curves. I wore baggy shirts, shorts, and got bangs to hide inside myself.
Being insulted because I had no boobs. Now I’m happy and free with small titties.
Free the nipple and free yourself from society's standards. We know it's easier said then done, but you have to start somewhere.
Getting boobs in sixth grade and everyone staring at my chest — adults included.
We know it can be hard to speak up for yourself, but don't let this behavior go ignored. If this happens to you, speak to someone you trust, and report any harassment.
Stretch marks. They’re normal! When I got mine, [I was mortified} and didn’t wear shorts — ever.
When you hit a growth spurt during puberty, your body is literally growing faster than your skin can keep up! Stretch marks are very, very normal.
Massive acne and getting bullied because of it.Massive hormonal changes may cause massive breakouts. When hormones like testosterone increase, or there’s an imbalance ratio of progesterone to estrogen, sebaceous glands can become overactive and produce an excess amount of sebum — your skin’s natural lubricant, or what you might think of as your body oils. Too much sebum can lead to clogged pores and acne.
Puberty pimples, as we’ll fondly call them, will usually go away on their own by the time you hit your twenties, but about 25% of vulva owners experience acne past 30. Luckily, there’s been a rise in the acne positivity movement in response to the blurred blemishes and poreless perfect skin we’re so often exposed to on social media. Normal skin has pores and wrinkles and acne and dark spots!
How much my boobs hurt as they grew.We know it hurts. Whether it's a dull ache or a sharp pain, soreness in your breasts is completely normal.
Becoming a sexual being.
Society is still stuck in it's heteronormative, penis-in-vagina-is-the-best-sex thinking, so it can be confusing when you’re discovering your own sexuality. Take a look at our ABCs of LGBTQIA+ to get a better understanding of identity, gender, sexuality, and their varying spectrums. We acknowledge that our explanations are in no way all-inclusive and people are always free to choose to identify how they feel most comfortable.
We couldn’t afford my menstrual products and I felt like I was burdening my family.
Unfortunately, the tampon tax and period poverty are still very real. The first step in eliminating these inequalities is to start talking about periods to end the stigma surrounding menstruation so that we can make menstrual care accessible to everyone, everywhere. Learn more how you can help end period poverty here and how to get free menstrual care products here.
Discovering things on your own...like growing hair in new places.
No information or family not talking about it (most common response)
Yep, sex ed is still sub par. That's why you have us and our friends at Talk Tabu to help you through.
I didn’t get my period until I was 14. I started to think something was wrong with me.
Puberty can start as early as eight years old for those born with vaginas (and 9 for people with penises). But it’s also totally normal to not hit puberty until 14 or even 15 years old. The wide range is totally normal, although it is also another facet of puberty makes it so dang awkward.
Menarche to Menopause: The "Reproductive Years"
Once you hit puberty and have your first period, or menarche, your body is in its “reproductive stage” meaning you can become pregnant, whether you want to have kids or not!
Now that your hormones ebb and flow in more predictable cycles (and if not, you may have an underlying issue and you should always discuss an irregular period with a medical practitioner) you can focus on exploring and becoming more comfortable with your sexuality. That calls for more masturbation and safe sex!
The Best Family Planning Advice You've Heard
Have kids or don’t! It’s your body, your choice!
No comment necessary.
What works for you might not work for everyone.
While we encourage you to be open and honest about your own experiences, it’s important to remember that everybody and every body is different. You never know what someone is going through, or what they have or have not tried, so avoid giving unsolicited advice.
You’re not the only one responsible — your partners are, too.
Whether the issue is infertility, where to give birth, or parenting styles, it should be a tag-team effort. If you’ve chosen to have a child on your own, or your partner is out of the picture for whatever reason, there are other people you can turn to to get the support you deserve — therapists, postpartum doulas, and parent friends can and will be super helpful during this time of immense change.
The Worst Family Planning Advice You've Ever Received
The baby will somehow “fix” a broken relationship.
Having a baby can create a bond with your partner that encourages mature personal growth and strengthens your commitment to one another with the shared goal of bringing a human into this world. But pregnancy and parenting are stressful experiences even without relationship issues, and may be another source of contention rather than opportunity for communication and commitment.
Don’t use birth control and leave it all up to god.
Natural family planning can be an effective way to prevent pregnancy with a huge caveat. For this contraception method to work, you have to do it correctly. It’s very involved, and requires one to monitor and record different fertility and ovulation signals during every menstrual cycle. This method also doesn't protect you from sexually transmitted infections, so at the very least, use condoms as an extra precaution. Check out a comprehensive list of birth control options here.
DID YOU KNOW Antibiotics can nullify the effects of birth control pills, so be prepared with condoms or forego PIV sex until you’re done taking them.
You better start soon, your eggs are getting old.
Let’s clear something up. To get pregnant, you need two things: an egg and a sperm to fertilize that egg. As long as you still have eggs, they can still be fertilized. You can get pregnant, go through a full-term pregnancy, and have a healthy child well past 35.
Relax and rejuvenate stressed skin with a bath soak, or use Tonic as a spot treatment for ingrown hairs. SHOP TONIC
How You Think Society Can Better Support Those Who Choose a Child-Free Lifestyle
Require any form of protection to be covered by healthcare.
Legalize abortions. Make them easily and financially available.
Honestly, give me tax breaks like those with kids.
Affirm that reproduction isn't the end all life goal of people with vulvas.
Stop asking if I want kids. And when I say no to wanting or having kids — no pity faces.
Perimenopause & Menopause
Common Questions, Concerns and Misconceptions about Menopause
At what age does menopause begin, and how can we know it is it?
Menopause officially begins when your period has been absent for at least 12 months so you won’t know you’ve hit this stage except in retrospect! Your ovaries will have completely stopped producing estrogen and other sex hormones like progesterone begin to wane, so you'll continue to experience perimenopause symptoms (which people often conflate with menopause), although less regularly.
I’ve inherited my mum's painful periods. [I’m] worried I’ll get her severe mood swings as well.
Often referred to as the “second puberty,” perimenopause mirrors adolescent puberty with common symptoms like irregular periods, breast tenderness, and hormonal mood shifts. Your body is going through a lot of changes all at once, once again. You may inherit your mum's severe mood swings, but you also have tools to help manage them.
I’m a trans man. I have no clue how menopause may or may not affect me.
While the research is still severely lacking in this field, most trans people who start their transition at pre-menopausal age will never go through menopause in terms of the hormone depleting effects because gender affirming hormones are typically given for life. If you're trans and starts hormone treatment before going through menopause you will never experience it. Learn more about testosterone therapy and how it affects on your hormones.
I’ve heard women start to be old the day menopause starts.
Which, like, we’re really still promoting this idea? Buildings get old. Sunscreen gets old. People don’t get old — people mature. And learn a lot along the way!
After listening to the podcast Midnight Mediation, I realized that menopause is nothing to fear.
The mainstream narrative makes peri/menopause sound like it’s a real drag, and it’s true that many may experience a sense of loss in postmenopause. Transition of any kind is inherently difficult. During this final period of transition, you are entering a new stage of freedom and personal growth. You can think of postmenopause as a new adolescence of exploring yourself and the world around you — only better because you have the confidence, wisdom, and life experience to shape the remaining chapters of your life however you want.
In the end, puberty, pregnancy, and peri/menopause are nothing to fear….
We don't get to decide when puberty or menopause starts, which symptoms we experience, or or how long they last; the duration and kind of symptoms vary from person to person.
It can be uncomfortable to acknowledge your changing body, let alone having a conversation with someone else about it. But ignoring any of the physical and psychological effects has the potential to do more harm in the end. Ignoring sexual and reproductive health stigma and letting traditional sex ed run with the shame is how we got here in the first place!
Like most things, it’s best to address the impact of menarche or menopause head-on. You are your own best advocate, so we encourage you to explore and accept your body, wherever you are in life. We’re just here to give you the tools and resources you need to stay informed and in control.
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Momotaro Apotheca and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. All material on Momotaro Apotheca is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition.