When my mum was a teenager, she woke up one day and found blood in her underpants, having zero idea how it got there. She screamed, certain she was dying. Her own mother hadn’t bothered to give her so much as a hint about this inevitability. That day of terror is probably why she had my sisters and I prepped for the Red Menace from the time we were in kindergarten.

Even if my mum had skipped the period lesson, we'd have learned the basics in school. Even the Catholic school we went to gave all the girls a one-hour primer on what was to come. Sure, we had to figure out on our own that tampons weren’t going to cost us our v-cards, but between the nuns, our mothers and our friends, we had a pretty good idea of what to expect well before we started menstruating.

So why, despite now living in a world brimming with information about periods, is there such a lack of info about what happens when that monthly visitor vanishes? We spoke with four women about what they wished they’d known before heading into menopause.

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