college essay about menstruation?

The main event that has shaped my life was that I was diagnosed with precocious puberty at age 9. I started my period before 4th grade and had to go on Lupron medication to stop it and pause puberty for me. The side effects of the medication, the opinions of others on my body and the fear of telling other people shaped how I am today, or at least was for a long time. It changed my coping mechanisms and caused me to interact very little with other people as well as many other things. The point is that this caused a lot of issues in my life and I had to learn to work through it and change and grow as a person, but it was all caused by my period starting early. Would this be too gross for admissions people or would it be okay? I’ve had a lot of period issues throughout my life that have affected me a lot, but this is the main thing.

If you talk more about how the experience shaped you as a person and made you stronger rather than the details of the actual experience it should be fine.

If you can shape and focus the essay into being about your strengths and what you will bring to campus, I think it’s ok.

Just remember you have a limited word count and you want maybe a sentence or two about the medical issue and the rest about who you are now and what you bring. If you can’t summarize quickly it will read more like a therapy session and IMO will not help you have an impactful essay.

How will the essay sell you to the college and show a good fit?

When the committee is discussing you, are you okay with being known as “The girl who hit puberty young”? That may be okay, but you must write it so it makes you a more attractive candidate than “The girl who started a business” or “The boy who raised $10,000 for cancer research”. That doesn’t seem like it would be easy.

Essays are a way for the AOs to get to know the applicant and their qualities, that must demonstrate a match to what the school is looking for.

I’m not sure you should write about precocious puberty, even though I am certain it has greatly impacted your life. Have you discussed writing this essay with your GC? If not, please do so. You will also need an adult experienced in college essays to edit it.

If you choose to write about it, make the focus be your resilience, ability to seamlessly utilize one of the coping mechanisms you have developed…things of that nature. What caused you to develop these strengths (precocious puberty) should get one mention. You do not want the AOs to feel sorry for you, you want to demonstrate how well you fit at their school, and how you would be an asset to their community.

To see some good essay examples, take a look at ‘essays that worked’ on the Johns Hopkins, Hamilton, and Tufts websites, as well as college essay guy’s site.

Good luck.

Could be an outstanding opportunity to demonstrate one’s ability with respect to “diplomatic writing skills”.

Throughout life, many unpleasant topics are discussed. How one frames and presents these uncomfortable matters can be as revealing about the writer as the topic itself.

Menstruation is natural and normal. I would not categorize it as an “unpleasant topic.”

My concern is not with the topic per se but how it ties into your strengths, gifts, and what you bring to the table from a college perspective.

Who you were aged nine is not who you are now. Admissions officers want to know who you are now. Is who you are now still defined by what happened to you seven or eight years ago? Is that how YOU define yourself?

This may not be a popular view, but… Realistically, while we can probably agree that this topic shouldn’t be taboo, it’s not exactly going to make a male admissions officer comfortable, is it? I am sure AO’s try to be objective, but when they are reading essay #26 of the day, I have a hard time believing any AO is going to naturally warm to this topic.

As someone who does a lot of student advising in regards to essays, I would suggest the student think of something else to focus on.

I think one issue is that most students won’t be skilled enough to write about this in a way that is engaging. If you are that skillful, then go for it. Otherwise, if you must, maybe allude to it, rather than making the whole essay about it.

I really don’t think its a good idea. There is a certain squeamish feeling that comes from this topic that I don’t think is what you want to leave your AO with. Could you maybe just reframe it as “I had a health issue when I was 9 that has affected my life”, without going into exactly what the health issue is. As others have said, though, this has to be about you now, not when you were 9, so makes sure to make it current.

Most people have something that “caused a lot of issues” that they had to “learn to work through” and thus “change and grow as a person”.

College essays are not really about the notional topic, whether challenges, sexuality, family trauma, epic adventure, etc.

They are a way for the applicant to fill in the blanks / add color / connect the dots for the rest of the application. It’s a way to show characteristics that you want to come through, so that when an AO sits down with your application folder, flicks through your stats / coursework / ECs / school profile / LoRs then settles into read your essay it will help pull the whole picture of who you are now and where you are going into focus.

So, whatever topic is the frame for your essay, you want a clear- and pretty specific -link from then to now and ideally a bit of future. This is much, much harder than it seems- and the more profound the story the harder it is to do, because it tends to be complex, and because you need perspective.

Start writing the essay and see how it goes. The actual facts/backstory should not be much more than a sentence or 2. You might find it easier to focus the first few drafts by substituting “medical challenge that was embarrassing to 9yo me” for “menstruation”- because the important thing isn’t what the actual challenge was, it is the impact on 9yo / 14yo / 18yo / 25yo you.

fwiw, menstruation is not a gross or unpleasant topic- and AO’s have seen a lot, lot worse.

I think you are out of your mind doing this unless you are such an ace writer that you can make it really fly. And there are very few of those out there. Your post shows no such talent.

ANY subject can make for a winner essay if the writer can make it sing AND if you get an AO that will take the time to read it and give it an honest go. It should, as said above give insight on the person you are now and are on the way of becoming. Yes, there are writers who can take this topic and make it into a winner. But they are rare birds. Even they can compromise themselves if the AO reader just isn’t into that.

You don’t know who will be assessing your application and essay. If you want to take the chance that this topic will be ill received, go on ahead. Fact is, that the essay is highly unlikely to make or break you. But you want it to be a strong support for you. Not knowing you, not knowing how the rest of your app is going to fit with this, I’d say it’s a very bad idea.

My son wrote an essay that was not considered good for selective schools, and got accolades for the essay from an AO in the acceptance letter. But he also was rejected from match schools and we have no idea why. I agreed that essay was not a good one for college apps and it was used because it was the only one that fit a specific question in that school’s app.

I don’t think that it would be “too gross” admissions officers are adults not 5th graders and I think they would like that your willing to be vulnerable and talk about something that has greatly impacted your life.

That being said, with any topic relating to health you want to make it clear that you are going to succeed in their college you don’t want to give off the impression that you are sick, are going to be needing a lot of time of etc. A general rule of thumb for taking about any health problem is - Can you tell a story about who you are without it or has it fundamentally changed who you are as a person? if it hasn’t had a major impact on your life I would say maybe think of another topic but if it has then definitely write about it.