I have a long family history of terrible periods. I remember this one time when I was in grade 11, I went to change my pad during break time. I could only use the big night pads that were super absorbent. I had to wear them all the time.
My school uniform was white, which didn’t make things any better.
It was the end of English class and I was seated towards the front because my surname starts with a K. There were few people in the class whose surnames started with letters from the first half of the alphabet. Our teacher instructed the first row to start leaving the class. I got up and checked if there was blood on the chair. It was clean.
Then I just felt this hot liquid running down my legs. A pool of blood gushed down my thighs. I looked down. My white socks were red. There was blood in my shoes, there was blood all around me.
My classmates asked: “Ursula, why aren’t you leaving?” I just stood there. My teacher urged me to leave the classroom. I started crying.
After this incident, my mother let me go on the pill. My sister had been trying to convince her for months but she thought I was too young. I was suffering; I wouldn’t go to school when I was menstruating.
Even now, I still feel very self-conscious and the fact that I like wearing light colours doesn’t help. When I have those incidents now, I still cry and get overwhelmed by anxiety to the point that my mother has to give me medicine to calm me down.
I went on the pill when I was 18 to help with the pain and heavy flow. It reduced the length and flow of my period. I feel free. I can live my life.
Ursula Kekana (21) as told to Pontsho Pilane.
Have something to say? Tweet or Facebook us on @Bhekisisa_MG
How US scientists thought your period was poisonous
A guide to 'alternative menstruation': Save money and the world during your period
#FreeToBleed: The struggle of being too poor to afford pads
When a few months of treatment costs as much as a house, some patients are taking their lives and the law into their own hands to survive.
One in four people carry this potentially deadly bug? Now a new shorter treatment can prevent it from making you sick.
Recent national and Gauteng memos demanding all foreign patients pay in full for services likely fell foul of the law.
Bhekisisa means "to scrutinise" in Zulu
In South Africa, Zulu patients who would like to be thoroughly assessed by a doctor, would ask the physician to "bhekisisa" them.