My education on menstruation was pretty scientific at school. All to do with the facts of life, which don’t get me wrong, is important to know, because it’s otherwise freaky as fuck to bleed out your lady bits once a month with no good explanation, so knowing the biology behind it is useful.
What I feel was missing when I was growing up, is the truth of the actual monthly cycle us women go through for around 40+ years of our lives (illness, contraception, early menopause and pregnancies aside). Yes, I was warned of period pain in J17 citing a hot water bottle as my friend to assist with “mild tummy cramps”, but here is the shit I really wish I’d known.
- SO MUCH BLOOD. Sometimes, I cannot fathom how my BP has not dropped to an alarmingly low rate because surely my uterus cannot contain that much blood at any one time? I know of women who don’t have this, and I can only look on in pure envy.
- Yes TSS is a thing, but don’t freak out teenage brain. I remember hearing about this, and recoiling in horror that a tampon could (and inevitably would) kill me. So I avoided them for years.
- Tampons (and later) moon cups are your friend. They revolutionised my period. No more feeling like I’m wearing a nappy and rustling when I walk, and on super heavy days, I can relax that I’m not going bleed all over the bed sheets as I can double up with a tampon and a pad.
- Don’t be embarrassed by them. My friend bled all over another friend’s pouffe on a heavy flow day. Whilst obviously somewhat mortified by the aforementioned incident, not so much so she didn’t immediately take a photo and send it to our group chat, because we all bleed. I’m also the great friend that cleaned it up, whilst in hysterics.
- Period pain is real. You should be warned that “mild cramps” is fucking bull shit and you are likely to spend one full calendar day a month rolling around in sheer agony clutching at your stomach, popping pain killers. Some women can’t work as it’s that agonising for them, and you shouldn’t feel bad about this if you’re struck with horrendous cramps. Exercise helps (apparently, I sit and eat chocolate).
- Don’t spend extra on the best brands of sanitary products. Own brands are just as good, and aren’t pumped full of scents to mask your period (which I find weird, as I can just smell a lavender musk coming from my vagina they’re that strong, but alas, I apparently need to be ashamed of the bloody smell). I’m also allergic to fragrance (HI THRUSH) as it fucks with my PH. Keep it simple.
- Having said that, don’t feel obliged to stick to the same sanitary wear as your peers/family members. Learn what you like and find most comfortable.
- Talking of fragranced products, ok your period blood might smell, but genuinely no one but you would notice when changing products, unless perhaps they’re nose is up in your vagina or you’re whacking them round the face with your sanitary wear (I wouldn’t recommend this).
- They can be brown, red, have bits in (be it clots or even begin with brown discharge to which is old blood), and don’t always follow the same course. You might have a cycle you could set your clock by that looks the same every month, but you might have one that’s new each time. Tracking apps are great (I use Clue), back in the day before modern tech, I guessed/used a calendar to keep track, but apps have really helped me plot my cycle, and explain why I’m moody AF.
- We all now know that your hormones go bat shit fucking crazy. This is not just “being a teen”, because I’m 29 now, and could honestly kill anyone who looks at me the wrong way the few days in the run up to my period. I have inner rage that knows no bounds, so stay the fuck out of my way and everything will be fine. My mood can fluctuate so much because of PMS it’s frightening. Again, apps can help you to realise it’s this, and that it will pass.
- Period shits. NO ONE told me about the horrors of this. For at least 1 day, you have to endure the shedding of your uterus and the urgent vacating of your bowels all at once.
My friend messaged our group chat today (what prompted this post), and I wanted to share, merely because we’re all in it together, and IT’S SO FUCKING TRUE IT HURTS.
I vividly remember a girl at college mentioning this, I was about to agree, but everyone else denied it so I kept quiet. At 17 I was far less outspoken about anything and cared way too much about anyone thought about gulp my normal bodily functions.
Hopefully period positivity is changing the way young girls talk about their periods and share their experiences, so they don’t feel as confused in the first few years of enduring the joyous tribulations of womanhood.