Let’s Talk Periods | Oh Bloody Hell
I can already see the look of horror on my parents/bosses face when they see this pop up on their Facebook/Twitter feeds. But since half the population have periods every month I’m just going to step back and let them read this post.
I’m tired of not being able to talk about periods. If I can talk about food poisoning in the office or the fact that I had a case of hives to my parents, why can’t I say: ‘God, my uterus is hurting right now?’
Endometriosis – Oh my!
As an endometriosis sufferer, period pain is excruciating for me. Luckily, after many years, tests, ultrasounds and medications I have finally found a way to manage the pain. Namely the pill. I had to try variations – some of which gave me awful side effects, like not being able to eat and fainting for a month – but the one I’m on now does the job. And it’s splendid.
Whilst I’m no longer puking, fainting and bleeding through my pants every month, I still suffer from cramps, emotional flare-ups and having to go to the loo five times a day to change sanitary products and generally clean up down there. But still, I don’t talk about it.
Working on my period
I work in an office with a lot of women and three grown men – all of whom have wives who have either had children or are about too (congrats dude!) – so they know what goes on down there and have experienced many variations of period hell I’m sure. But still, we don’t talk about it.
Why?! I’ve no idea.
I actually feel more comfortable talking to my boss about my mental health then I do about periods.
I’ve come into the office with what feels like knives twisting in my back from period cramps and the desire to shout at someone for no reason due to hormones, but not mentioned the fact I was on my period. Yet, I’ve had mornings off because I felt too anxious to come into work and I’ve been sent home for becoming emotional during a stressful time.
Periods are something I’m very open about, I feel. I got my period on the second day of Year 8, so I was twelve years old. I walked out of the bathroom, totally calm, walked past my dad’s office where he had just started working and said:
‘I’m off to school dad. And oh, I started my period’
He was paler than I was – but only I had the excuse.
I don’t think I told my mum – probably from the knowledge that from the moment I did she’d tell everyone else – but she found out from dad sooner or later. We’d already discussed periods so it wasn’t a topic of conversation we needed having so we didn’t. Since I had an older sister I got what I needed from her room – all the wrong stuff, but still – and just went off to school.
I just dealt with it.
At school, from the age of 10, we were told about periods and when to expect them. I had had the conversation with my mum about hers in the car, learning when she got hers and when I could probably expect mine. We guessed thirteen, but I’m an early bloomer.
I didn’t have a period party or anything – something which sounds amazing in my book – but got used to it. I didn’t develop endometriosis until I was fourteen years old. From then on getting my period was something I dreaded as I knew it would lead to fainting in classrooms, puking in the car park, having to beg the school receptionists to let me go home, getting my dad to leave work to pick me up or simply feeling dreadful all day.
Worst still was that doctors didn’t pay attention to it. I had numerous appointments with doctors – all of whom were female and gave me the attitude of we all have to deal with it. It was only after I went to the doctors whilst on my period, having puked in the waiting room toilets, with low blood pressure and mild anaemia that a doctor said: oh okay, you’re not putting it on.
I don’t begrudge the doctors, although they really do need to learn to listen to their patients when they’re in pain, and not just tell them to get pregnant (I was sixteen!) to help with the pain. Real story.
Learning to live with my period
Can you believe that after six odd years of agony I actually learnt to be fine with my period? I can’t say I enjoy it – I’m literally bleeding for seven days straight, but I survive – but I no longer dread its appearance, or feel like I have to stay indoors whenever I’m on.
I also don’t use code to tell people that ‘I’m on’. No more ‘painters in’ or ‘jam roly poly’ no more ‘diaper month’ or ‘i’m hormonal’. I simply say: I’m on my period.
The thing that seems to horrify most people though, is my ability and willingness to talk to anyone about periods. I’ll talk to my thirty-odd-year-old boss about it, my seven-year-old cousin, if she asks, my sister’s primary school class or simply my godmother. I don’t care.
2.5 billion people have periods monthly and they have done since the beginning of the human race. So I don’t understand why it is weird or uncomfortable to discuss? We don’t react like this about breathing?
Oh my god! You breathe through your mouth and your nose?
Or going to the toilet.
Did you just have a wee? That’s disgusting!
Periods to me are like sneezing – natural fluid comes out. You wipe it away, wash your hands and carry on.
If I’m honest though, the people that struggle most with periods are men. This is not a sexist comment – it’s not all men – but the majority of people that are seemingly disgusted by periods are men because they don’t experience periods themselves. Some women are disgusted as well, for religious reasons in my experience.
If a man does get uncomfortable about your period – be it when you’ve just started dating, slept together or when you’re out and about and have to go to the toilet to change your tampon – I suggest you say something along these lines:
I started my day in a pool of blood, is that how you would like to end yours?
I can bleed for seven days straight and not die. That makes me stronger than you.
If tampons are luxury items simply for going inside our vaginas and therefore should be taxed, does that mean penis’ should be taxed too?
And if they really annoy you with any stupid comments about your period just say:
Don’t worry, I’m sure you’re mother would have preferred to have got her period too.
I’m a bit of a bitch when I’m on my period – okay, a lot. My family are afraid of me – so all of my prepared snaps are quite angry. Sometimes a simple: I’m on my period. And? Will do.
But if one more person listens to me structuring a point about something important only to respond with: Are you on your period? I swear I am not responsible for my actions.
I have materials for days. Period.