period meme

I remember in Year 5, everyone’s parents got a letter in the post. It was something along the lines of:

“Dear Mr and Mrs Girlwiththafro,

As part of the St Jude the Fields personal development lessons, we will be screening a short video on sexual health and reproduction called “The Facts of Life”. Please return the slip attached to the letter below to indicate whether or not you are happy for your child to attend….”.

My Mum being who she is had already given me her own version of “The Facts of Life” at least a year earlier and so I sat smugly through the video, content in my 10 year old mind that I was EXTREMELY mature and aware. The video to my recollection was a fairly benign animation and I don’t remember much, apart from that I was completely unprepared for the ensuing carnage that puberty would bring.

Things they don’t tell you about periods:

1)It’s more blood than you think.

So we know the average woman doesn’t actually lose that much blood, it’s actually really the lining of your uterus shedding. Who cares? It’s red. We’ve all had that awful feeling of standing up after a lecture, date or dinner party and feeling the sudden gush between your legs as your period  has suddenly decided it’s had a nice break, but now it’s time to get back to work. If you’re lucky, you’re prepared and you’ve got a pad, a tampon, or a mooncup to catch the evidence of the slaughter. If you’re unlucky, you’ve just ruined a pair of Boux Avenue polyester knickers. Again.

2) It can smell.

No, it’s not the back of a meat market, just Anna at the other end of the office isn’t changing her pad as frequently as she should. There’s a distinctive and rather gross smell that can associated with period-ing, especially if you use pads (MOONCUPS GUYS, MOONCUPS). The worst bit about the smell is that really, most of us don’t want everyone to know we’re bleeding. Again. Period smell is like a Honda Civic blaring old school garage music through Lewisham High Street at midday. You can’t miss it.

3) The pain is comparable to childbirth.

I’ve never, and may never give birth, but no one can convince me that the period pain I had in 2008 wasn’t as bad a childbirth. I was literally on the verge of taking a kitchen knife, carving my own uterus out, and then just lying there as I bled to death. It would have been a perfectly reasonable response. No one tells you that there are actual women, women all around us who have eventually had to have their wombs removed because their periods were so heavy and the pain is so bad. Nope, they just say “Isn’t it wonderful, you’re becoming a woman!!!”

4) Your hormones can literally ruin life.

I know women who just before their period, practically sink into depression. I’m not joking – lack of motivation, suicidal ideation, unable to perform normal day to day tasks. Some women go on oral contraception just so that their month isn’t at the mercy of their fluctuating hormones. I used to scoff at women who kept claiming that their PMS was the cause of their once monthly erratic behaviour – but now I’m more sympathetic. Recently I found myself sitting on my bed, eating popcorn, crying hysterically, then as it dawned on me that my period was starting in two days, laughing hysterically. Madness I tell you, madness.

5) You’re expected to just get on with it.

If you think everyone will be sympathetic to the fact that your womb is playing squash in your pelvis, and disintegrating through your vagina, think again. Your new boyfriend will be sympathetic for the first 4 months and then after that, he’ll disinterestedly bring you an Ibuprofen and a hot water bottle and go back to watching the football. Your colleagues at work might well be more caring, but it’s really just luck of the draw. Even if your period pain is worse than Mike Tyson repeatedly biting at your ear, no one is going to take kindly to you taking a day off every.single.month.

6) You can have great periods.

So I’ve spent a few hundred words trashing them, but for some lucky women, it’s possible to actually have great periods. I’ve started trying to be more grateful when my period comes. If you have regular, relatively pain free periods, be thankful! Many women don’t get that chance and it’s probably a sign that you’re healthy and your body is working exactly how it should. In fact, for some women changing their eating habits, losing weight and getting better sleep can actually transform their entire menstrual cycle. So if, you’re having bad periods, don’t give up, see your doctor, do your research, and see if there are things you can do to have a happier period. Every month you’re reminded (not so gently?) of the fact that you can bring new life into the world! Isn’t that kind of amazing? No? Ok.

Have I left anything out? What do they not tell you about periods when you’re younger?

 

period meme

Warnning: If you are a man or a squeamish woman, this might be too much for you. I’m currently working in gynaecology – I don’t hold back.

Are you sitting comfortably? Today we’re going to talk about MEN-STRRUU-AA-SHUUN.

Every time I get my period I want to throat punch Eve. I was never one to buy into the whole PMT, ‘I’m moody because it’s my time of month’ doo dah… until it started happening to me. There I am, merrily skipping my way through the month, when suddenly a cloud of depression and irritability descends, associated with sugar cravings and petty arguments with loved ones over things of little consequence…cue that the dreaded bleed has begun.

I don’t think anyone ENJOYS periods. I mean, there are those outside the normal distribution curve who have some sort of monthly celebration of their womb as the giver of life, but for most of us, it just sucks.

Mooncups make it considerably less sucky.

What is a mooncup you ask?

Quite simply, it is a little silicone cup that you pop in down there. Once in, you can’t feel it, it collects your period, you empty it, you clean it, you pop it back in, and so forth. It’s a lot safer than tampons and pads because it has none of the nasty chemicals, bleaches and moisture sucking fabric. (I always found something quite gross about a fabric thing soaking up menstrual fluids. Weirdly, mooncups, although a lot more involved, seem a lot less gross.)

I’m not going to go into detail about my own menstrual cycle or mooncup experience because there are enough youtube videos with very brave women who detail that for you. I will say though, that the cheapskate in me appreciates the fact that mooncups only have to be changed every 5 years and so save a nice wedge of cash. I also appreciate not having to worry about swimming, changing rooms and weird menstrual smells.

Suffice to say, if you are the kind of person who can’t even say vagina without shuddering, the mooncup is not for you. Likewise if you are the kind of woman who can barely look at a tampon without feeling nauseous, the mooncup is not for you.

Handy hints:

1) Hide your mooncup and it’s nice little storage bag somewhere where curious male hands won’t open it and hold it up gingerly whilst gawping “WHAT IS THIS?”. It’s awkward.

2) Don’t worry if the first time you try it, you can’t get it out after a while. Relax. Breathe. There is nowhere for it to go.

3) Consequently, don’t have a trial run on a busy morning or a panicked evening. It might end up a bit of a bloody mess.

4) Clean it after use, for Pete’s sake. You can get sterilising tablets from any supermarket.

5) Wear thin pads when you first start using it in case of any..ahem..leaks.

6) I’m making it sound worse than it is, it is actually rather awesome.

7)If the idea of reusable things gross you out Softcups are disposable and actually more comfy, but more expensive.

Otherwise, enjoy!

Who else has tried mooncups? Questions?