What I Wish I Knew Before Puberty | We Need to Talk Wednesdays 2020


My puberty experience was… eventful, to say the least. 


My family and I waited anxiously for my first period, or menarche, if you will, as it meant I’m “normal”, or as normal as I could be. 


10-year-old-me, about a year before we discovered I had hyperthyroidism

Quick background, I had hyperthyroidism, and when the treatments didn’t work, I underwent the RAI or Radioactive Iodine procedure and now I have hypothyroidism. 


13-year-old me, about a year with hypothyroidism

So, back to my puberty story. 


Since I got the RAI procedure before my first menstrual period, there were concerns that my puberty might be affected. It wasn’t, as I bled for the first time in May 2010, and have not missed one, ever. 


I wish that was all, and we lived happily ever after, but that’s not the case. 


Due to my hormonal issues, I always made it a point to keep myself in check. My family always made it a point to check on me every now and then, and, coming from a family in the medical field, discuss it from time to time. 


I thought that was normal, but when I started living alone, apparently it wasn’t. 


A study in 2010 said that most teens get their sexual education from friends (74.9%) and media (57.0%)*. As I grew older, this became my truth as I discovered that what I knew about my own body and how it works is not all there is. There is so much more to know and understand than a couple of hormone levels that I needed to keep in check. 


I met my first boyfriend during our JS Prom


When I had my first serious boyfriend, I didn’t get “the talk” from my grandmother, but I did get the “learn from your parents and don’t make the same mistake talk”, and the “You’re smart, be safe statement” from my father. When I had my first OB-Gyne visit, I got weird looks, and the initial judgemental questions from the doctor, until I explained I was there because of extreme dysmenorrhea and I can no longer afford absences from work. When I bought the medicine prescribed to me at a local drugstore, the pharmacist looked at me twice before ringing up my order. When somehow my friends saw that I was taking pills, they snickered and asked if I was having fun. 


The only one who was comfortable talking about sexual health was my best friend, and we were both very confused. We weren’t sure of exactly what to believe, and what risks we may have been taking by following contradicting statements online. As girls from a Catholic school, the only things we were sure of was “You don’t talk about it.” and “You don’t do it.”.





I only got myself figured out by 24. I now have an OB-Gyne that I completely trust and feel 101% comfortable with, taking the correct pills for my severe dysmenorrhea, found friends that are non-judgemental and provide help when needed, and I can finally talk to my family about sex and everything that comes it without getting shamed for it. 


Shout out to my PH Influencers <3
Shout out to my amazing BFFs <3

It took me about 10 years to be comfortable with my own sexual health, but nowadays, I am so happy that it’s not so hard anymore. There are now countless reliable online resources that everyone can use to discover what’s best for them.


One of the best resources that I have found is RH Care Info, The Philippines' Reproductive Health Care Information Site. It is an interactive website aiming to educated and support everyone, especially the youth, about how important it is to be informed and how every individual has the right to make their own choices about their sexual and reproductive health. 




I browsed through their site and I am amazed at how easy it is to navigate and find exactly what I was looking for. The layout is also very friendly and not blatantly about sex ed. How I wish this was available during the times when I was confused and trying to find answers without being scared into thinking I had cancer or that I wasn’t normal. 




Aside from the bountiful knowledge in the site, they also had a Health Facility Locator which is very helpful for anyone who wishes to look for a clinic they can trust and grow with. I wish I had this when I was younger as it has an adolescent-friendly option. This means young people have access to places that can guide them correctly and professionally, which for me is an amazing thing.


Here's how to use the Health Facility Locator on the website:


1. Pull the website or enter https://rh-care.info/providers/ in the address bar.



2. Fill up the required details, most especially your location.



3. Check your available clinics from the map or the list generated, and feel free to make your appointments through the provided contact details 



 
They also offer free medical advice about reproductive health concerns on our Facebook page.

For more information about RH-CARE INFO, please check out their links below:

Website: https://rh-care.info/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rhcareinfo

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rhcareinfo/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUBuREI7d_zQt85wVLauzNA


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14 Comments

  1. This was a great read, Janessa! Loved knowing more about your experiences.

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  2. I think in our Filipino culture, discussions related to sexuality are a little bit odd because of our conservative culture. But I am glad that you have a very close and open relationship with your family who is also very supportive of you:)

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  3. I learned all about reproductive and sex education and other shinanigans through my own research and I am glad I got honest mates who helped me with it. The Philippines still very outdated in these issues.

    Here in Australia, kids in primary school already have sex education and reproductive classes, including anti- sexual harrassment classes.

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  4. Wow, good for you. Ako never pa kong naka-visit sa OB for a checkup. Dahil nga rin sa culture dito, medyo hassle talaga magpunta kasi baka kung ano isipin ng mga tao

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  5. Our culture still has a long way to go in terms of openly discussing about sex, reproductive health, and everything else in between. I have to admit that I'm also anxious as to how I'd handle it when that fateful day arrives when I'd have to finally discuss it with my 2 boys. Until then, I'd better figure it out soon.

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  6. I love all the points you made. You're so lucky to have a lot of people around you. Lalo na family at friends na mapagsasabihan ng ganyang topic.

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  7. was your severe dysmenorrhea coming from your hyper and hypo thyroidism? I was never comfortable talking about this and i also learned about it with my friends and media. i was even a late bloomer, i had THAT experience when you had your first period. OMG?! hahahahaha.. and we were bound to get married 2 years later and we have been together since 2000. :D i totally suppoer RH-Care.info! ive been sending over people to their website in case they need anything. walang ganto dati kaya mahirap makipag usap. buti na lang ngayon. mas mabuti ang pinag uusapan palagi.

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  8. I enjoyed reading your story, my puberty days flashed back on me, the very first day I had my period. So may judgemental people ano? But I'm glad you found your support system 😊

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  9. I used to take contraceptive pills (when I was still single) to regulate my menstrual period, and I didn't think it was odd back then because it was prescribed by a doctor. Good thing I wasn't surrounded by judgmental people during that time. It's easier to handle these things these days because aside from supportive family and friends, online support like RH-CARE INFO is also available.

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  10. I wish we'd be more open about sexual health. I also got the "learn from your parents and don’t make the same mistake" talk as a teen and I honestly don't remember anything I learned in my pre-teens. I have yet to see an OB-GYNE again because the last time I went (years ago), I was advised to get a biopsy to confirm if I have PCOS.

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  11. Good read. Thank you for sharing your story with us and I hope this will educate teens as well as parents about reproductive health.

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  12. Due to conservative culture it is hard for us sometimes to talk about this matter but it is really important matter and teens should be educated about this.

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  13. Thanks for sharing your experience. I'm sure lots of young girl can relate and will take comfort from reading your story!

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  14. Thanks for sharing this. Not all has the guts to share their experiences and learnings

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