Can we talk about our periods for a second? Maybe this post should alternately be titled “Things I’m Afraid To Tell You: Period Edition.”
It’s something I discuss on a regular basis with my real life friends – guys and girls, alike – but somehow along with a few other tricky topics (like sex, politics, divorce and body image stuff) it has become one of those things that-doesn’t-get-blogged-about. So here’s where I would typically disclaim this post and say “Gentlemen, look away!” But if you’re my real life guy friend you too are subjected to the status of my menstrual cycle – right Micah and James?
BLOOD IS NOT BLUE
So I’ve been obsessed with periods since I was 11 and all my girlfriends started getting theirs at summer camp or bleeding through their shorts at recess. I had decided that was not for me – no thank you. And so I willed my period to not start until I turned 17. That’s right. SEVENTEEN. And once it started it would not stop. For something like 45 days. I became anemic, bought stock in Tampax and took iron supplements. I was paranoid about bleeding through my clothes (and it was a legitimate fear) – so I was always wearing a flannel around my waist – even in the summer.
When I “started” it was a big deal. The shared family bathroom was one big explosion of feminine hygiene products. My sister was slightly annoyed because when she started her period she was so discreet about it that not even our mom knew. Yet here I am – blogging about it for the world to see 10+ years later – so you can only imagine how dramatic and loud I was about it as a teenager. So after 45 days of not even being able to lift a milk jug out of the fridge because I was quite literally bleeding my guts out my mom took me to the doctor. With a slightly uncomfortable pap smear and a prescription to Othro Tricyclen (the birth control pill) I was sent on my way. With the help of synthetic hormones my period was that of a normal girl.
The biggest disappointment of it all was how not blue blood is – contrary to every period-centric commercial out there. And the truth of it is that sometimes blood isn’t even all that red either (*unless you use a diva cup – more on that later).
ONCE A MONTH
I know some women who like getting their period. It’s proof that everything is working properly and a monthly celebration of fertility and womanhood. But for me, nothing about bleeding from my hoo-ha every single month feels okay or right. Every month it’s a total slap in the face (except for those months when I’m relieved to discover that I’m not pregnant). And get this – statistically 1 out of every 4 women is bleeding at all times. So when you’re at work, an amusement park, a concert, out to dinner or at a movie theater think about how unfair life is for 25% of women at any given moment.
So when I finally got off the pill a decade later (before we trekked to Mt. Everest, actually) I was a little anxious to see how my body would react. I was a little paranoid that I had 10+ years of angry, vengeful period just waiting to make my life hell. The first month off the pill I thought I was pregnant because my period was 8 days late. Little did I know – and probably because I’ve willed it so – my body would slowly adjust to only getting a period every other month. I’m so obsessed with my cycle that I have a tracker on my phone to tell me when I’m ovulating, when it’s okay to be a little less careful when getting it on and when I’m going to start my period (the app is called P Tracker).
MAKE IT STOP
Did you know that in the Bible days women used to have to go sit on a rock for 7 days while on their period? Yeah. That’s something my Sunday school teacher did not want to discuss with my curious 8-year-old self.
So now instead of being banished to go sit on a rock for a week we have an entire aisle at the grocery store dedicated to making it stop (or at least pretending like it isn’t really happening):
Pads – There’s something very honest and kind of satisfying about letting the blood flow as it may – but pads almost feel like adult diapers. Anytime I wear one I feel like the world knows (and not because I’m blogging about it).
Tampons – When I was 12 and my brother was 15 we busted in to my mom’s stash of Super Duper Absorbent tampons (you know – the orange kind) and had a tampon war. We launched tampons out of the applicators, into cups of water and threw them at each other. My mom was mad (“I need those, you guys!”) but it was so worth it. It was at that time that I came across the awesome line-drawing instructions for insertion and serious warnings about how tampons can kill you with a disease called Toxic Shock Syndrome.
The Diva Cup – This is my preferred method of making it stop. Mom blogs talks about cloth diapering and saving the planet – so let’s bring it back to our own hoo-has. The Diva Cup is a silicone cup that goes inside the vag canal and collects blood over 12 hours. It may take a couple tries to get it right but once you do it’s magical. And good for the environment. But if blood grosses you out this may not be for you – because changing it out is like a scene right out of Dexter. *Because the blood never hits oxygen it stays bright red.
Sometimes the sitting-on-a-rock method sounds pretty appealing, though.
PERIOD SEX (the opposite of being banished to a rock)
Periods may or may not put us out of commission for sexy times for a whole week every month (which just adds insult to injury). The number one thing I hear from ladies when discussing getting it on during one’s period is that in the beginning of the relationship the attitude from both parties is all “Who cares!? It’s hot. Let’s pretend we’re vampires!” Only to be rejected during that time of the month – or worse – asked to put a towel down first (not sexy) six months down the road. So I’m not turning into a sex columnist but here are some great alternatives: do it in the shower, go solo and do it with yourself, just make out for a week (when’s the last time you JUST made out?), or pretend like you’re a nun who is above desires of the flesh and meditate instead.
God bless you guys and gals who couldn’t care less about a little bit of blood when it comes to you or your partner’s period. And ladies, it’s okay if you don’t feel your sexiest during this time of the month and want to pass on sexy times – but don’t ever let anyone make you feel like you deserve to go sit on a rock for seven days either.
THOSE DECEITFUL LAST TWO DAYS
I’m still in such denial about my period that a day or two before it stops I declare it over. Every. Single. Time. Jeremy has finally caught on – when I bust out the megaphone and holler “IT’S OVER!” and start playing Madonna’s “Celebrate” that it’s not really over. There’s always more. Sometimes it will stop for an entire day only to come back for an encore presentation. I suppose this is why the term “Period Undies” exists.
Let’s chat. Just like Armpit Matters consider this a safe place to talk about all things hoo-ha.