Despite the fact periods are a natural part of our lives, the embarrassment they often come with means it is sometimes hard for young girls to openly learn about their own health. This was the case for one girl whose aunt wrote to Reddit to ask if it was inappropriate for her to introduce her niece to tampons when girl's mother would not.
The aunt writes that her sister is embarrassed by conversations that have anything to do with periods, sex, birth or vaginas.
"All of it is just an off-limits conversation for her. So, when my niece got her first period naturally…she called me to come explain to her daughter what a period is why she's getting it and how to manage it," the aunt recounted.
"I obviously didn't want to do this as it wasn't my job, but I did because somebody had to for the poor girl who was absolutely freaking out as to why she was bleeding. Originally I just gave her some pads told her there were other options but to start out with pads were probably best."
However, her niece came to her after about a year of using pads, telling her she is embarrassed of constantly leaking through her pads due to her heavy flow and asking for advice. The aunt decided to give her some tampons, but when her sister found them, she was infuriated.
"She claimed it wasn't my place to give them to her and that I was 'taking her virginity' by telling her to use them. I don't feel like what I did was wrong because my niece knew she couldn't go to her mum about it.
"In hindsight I probably should've asked my sister or gave her a heads up that I did it, but when I first had the talk with my niece, my sister didn't want to know anything I told her because those conversations are 'inappropriate and embarrassing', so I didn't figure she'd want to know but she's determined that I am the a*****e."
Many commenters assured the aunt that she was helping her niece by giving her access to information and period products.
"Women's bodies and their natural functions are not embarrassing. For crying out loud, tampons don't take your virginity away, having sex with another person takes your virginity," said one commenter.
"Please give her the sex talk so she knows what that involves and how to prevent pregnancy, because it sounds like she probably isn't being told the ins and outs of sex. Proper education on how our bodies work is vitally important and you are amazing to step up for your niece. She is so lucky to have you."
"If she's bleeding that heavily, she needs whatever sanitary product that works to protect her from leaking," advised another, "Tampons are sanitary products designed to help prevent females from bleeding through their clothes and onto furniture. Her daughter can't help it if she has a heavy flow."
Others criticised the mother for being so "embarrassingly uninformed" about her own anatomy.
"If your sister can't talk to her own daughter about something natural that happens, she doesn't get a say in how her daughter handles it. Being a teenage girl is hard enough without walking around with blood-stained pants so kudos to you for giving her the tools she needs to avoid unnecessary embarrassment, "said one.
"Parents can't neglect responsibilities they have for their children and then get mad when others pick up their slack."