The Unspoken Rules of the Period Sisterhood

Mahnoor Nadir
3 min readMar 23, 2021
Photo by Polina Zimmerman from Pexels

I was stood outside the stalls in the girl’s bathroom. Obscene artworks by untrained hands lined the walls. The stalls, on the other hand, served as our daily gossip bulletins. My best friend was sequestered in one such stall.

She had just gotten her period and in true form had also forgotten to bring a pad with her and while I didn’t have one on me, I knew that the quest of finding one had befallen my unworthy shoulders.

You’d be happy to know reader; I did not fall short of my responsibility.

Nor have many others. United we’ve stood by our comrades, making makeshift rags out of cloth, layering napkin upon napkin, procuring underwear to cover for destroyed ones, walking single file to hide a stained kurta and offering a jacket in trying times to be tied around the waist. If there is such a thing as girl code, then these are the top few commandments.

Be a Guardian

I once sat for an hour in the same place with my best friend by my side, waiting for class to empty out so no one would see the stain I had left on the chair. My friend stood watch at the door like a hawk as I quickly wiped down the surface and made my escape.

I did the same for a girl I’d just met at a party, she needed a confidante and in our drunken state we had become unlikely best friends and God damn it we would watch over one another forever. I never saw her again.

Keep a Pad Handy

I wasn’t always this wise. In every pad/tampon/diva cup dynamic, there are givers and then there are receivers. There are those that keep multiples of pads on them and like fairies bestow them on grateful, bleeding women. After many years of being a receiver, now, I have lived long enough to be a giver. You’ll find 2 of every kind of feminine hygiene product in my purse. That’s why it’s so big.

There’s No Shame in The Game

There’s no one more inventive than a woman who doesn’t have a pad on her. In rare cases when our sisters fail or have not returned from the quest, there is but one thing to do. Find whatever resources are at hand and make a pad out of it. Fold it, tear it, pray for it, conjure it or imagine it. Do whatever it takes to help your sister in need. You’ve heard of blood brothers? They have nothing on us sisters.

There’s Power in the Pain (but for real I need a Midol)

A hot water bottle, a cup of tea, a paracetamol, ibuprofen or Midol, we’ve always got some handy. So, when your sister is in pain, let her be.

I still remember the quiet nod of understanding my boss gave me as she took over the presentation for me because I was in too much pain to present to the CEO. I did the same for my team when I was promoted.

Keep the Cycle Going

As my sisters before me taught me, I pass on the wisdom of the sisterhood, not by saying but by doing. So, hand over the jacket or the dupatta. Teach our young ones to keep the sisterhood going and by the looks of it, it's already in some very good hands.

Everyone’s Experience Is Entirely Different

Those that have vaginas have vastly different experiences of what it means to have a period. So, if you want to extend a hand and uphold this blood pact with someone you care about, ask them what they need first.