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Puberty education varies widely. Here's a science-based 'period talk' to inform both kids and adults

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Listen to Short Wave on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts.

When and how people receive puberty education varies greatly. Some are taught according to thorough curricula; others spend hours searching for answers to their questions online.

Short Wave co-host Emily Kwong is in the first category. When 10-year-old Emily first learned about periods, she asked her mom for diagrams and procedures — because information is comforting. On the other hand, when 10-year old Short Wave producer Margaret Cirino first learned about periods, she was confused and a little scared.

Fast forward a decade or so ... and there is a lot that adult Emily and adult Marge still don't know about their periods!

That's why today Emily and Marge team up to provide a new and improved period talk. They chat with Kristyn Brandi, an OB/GYN and family planning doctor, and Mandi Tembo, a menstrual health PhD candidate, about everything they wish they knew about their periods. Consider this episode a period manual, complete with an overview of the menstrual cycle, the science of how periods work, how to know when something is abnormal — and whether to have a period in the first place.


Check out our episode on period tracking apps and data privacy here.

Listen to Short Wave on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts.

This episode was reported and produced by Margaret Cirino. It was edited by Gisele Grayson and Rebecca Ramirez. Brit Hanson checked the facts. The audio engineer was Alex Drewenskus.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit

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