I’ll never forget the surprising comment my mom made one sunny afternoon when I was about 15 years old. It had been one of those days when everything was going wrong, and I was feeling pretty cranky. To top it off, I had my period and was dealing with major cramps, so I was hardly the picture of joy and harmony. So what did I do? I did what any self-respecting teenager would do in a situation like that: I started complaining incessantly about menstruation and how ridiculous it was.

I mean, you’re living your life, when all of a sudden, blood just starts flowing between your legs. How bizarre is that? And it’s not enough that it happens once in while. No, it occurs about once a month, from the time you start menstruating until you go through menopause some 40 years later. Helloooooo? Who came up with that idea?

But leave it to my mom to respond in a way that left me scratching my head. She said that she had never minded periods, because they made her feel feminine. Excuse me?! She went on to say that once a month, she was reminded that her body was pretty darn amazing and unique, and completely different from a man’s, so she actually celebrated it during that week or so.

It wasn’t until years later that I realized that my mom was actually onto something. It turns out that in many cultures throughout the world, menstruation is considered a positive sign of health, something to be celebrated with a rite of passage.

Some 35 years after that fateful afternoon with my mom, I wrote a book to help teens appreciate all the benefits of charting their cycles so that they too can take pride in their remarkable bodies. So now whenever I hear teens complaining about their periods, I try to encourage them to view their menstrual cycle as an incredible source of self-revelation, feminine pride, and pure biological wonder. And oh yeah, I slip them a copy of my book:  Cycle Savvy, The Smart Teen’s Guide to the Mysteries of Her Body.