It’s been 16 years since I first got my period. Like the biggest cliche, I was wearing off-white flares and was wholly unprepared (even though I read ‘Are You There God? It’s me Margaret about 10 times). I even waited two days before I told my mom I got it. I remember finding pads at my grandmother’s house and using those until divulging my new secret to her.
No one spoke about their period in middle school, other than “I got it!” And though I went to an all-girls high school, all that was mentioned was cramping. [Speaking of which, while looking for a photo about periods, half of them showed women in pain. Yes, a period can be painful. You know what it could feel like? Completely normal. You can go about your day and play sports and dance, just like all those fem hygiene commercials suggest.]
Getting back to the point: there’s so much more to the menstrual cycle than it’s initial arrival and cramping. It’s about the follicular and luteal phases. It’s about those clear sticky fluids you see on your underwear. It’s about the tongue twisting ‘rrhagias’ (menorrhagia, metrorrhagia) and ‘rrheas’ (amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, oligomenorrhea, hypomenorrhea). It’s about the other uncomfortable symptoms that you may experience beforehand (I’m looking at you PMS), and how you can decrease them. It’s about that pill or IUD, and understanding what they do and how they affect your body.
My intention is to guide you on the menstruation journey by discussing what’s normal and abnormal, educating you on the phases, familiarizing you with the terminology, but most importantly helping you learn about your body.
I’m 27 and I’m still learning about my body. In November I purchased a menstrual cup. I bought it for 3 reasons: (1) to get a more accurate measure of how much blood I was losing per month, (2) tampons and pads are costly – especially when you’re buying super + regular + pads + liners, and (3) for the environment (because of the accumulation of #2). The first cycle was tough (insertion, removal, and overall feelings of anxiousness). But it’s so much better now! I feel incredibly empowered by knowing how much blood I’m losing, the amount of clots, the colour, etc (also great information if for acupuncture purposes). This information, along with my PMS symptoms are tracked on my favourite app, which I use to help improve my diet and lifestyle choices.
PS. Love the period talk? You might love this video too!