Thursday, April 5, 2018

I believe in talking (out loud) about periods!

I am bleeding.

Right now, I can feel my uterus aching inside me, sending tendrils of wandering crampiness into my lower back and left hip.

It hurts.  It isn't a debilitating pain, but it's enough that it's a distraction, this aching hand inside me reminding me that I have the ability to make a comfortable home for a baby.  It throbs, radiating from my center, and I wish I had a heating pad or a hot tub.

I take ibuprofen and acetaminophen together, hoping the combination will work better than one or the other to put off the stiff, tight twinges enough that I can clear my head and work.

I go to the bathroom often, because I don't want to deal with the inconvenience of making a mistake, misjudging things, and having to deal with stains on my favorite jeans. 

Unashamed, on Monday I told my two female co-workers that I have been having my period for 10 days, and that I just want it to be over.  How it was weak and lazy, and that I wished it would just pick up so it could end.  I could tell that one of them was a bit taken aback, but the other gave me tips on how to encourage the flow to come so I can feel better.

Today I say my uterus hurts, and she asks if I need anything.  I don't, but it's nice to be able to speak.  Here's the thing:

I believe in talking about my period.

Out loud.  In public.  To co-workers and friends.  On the internet (apparently).

This is not to say that I am entirely comfortable doing this.  When I say these things, or tell my boyfriend my uterus hurts, I still hear a tiny voice in my brain wondering what I am doing.  This is not something we talk about!  I push through it, and I spill the words out anyway, because this is who and how I am in this moment, and it is okay.

If any other body part I possessed was in this amount of discomfort, I would talk about it.  Anyone would.  If you had an earache to this degree, would you be at work?  What if you had an equivalent toothache?  For either of those you'd be at the doctor, but when we have our periods, we must persist in going about our business and just trying our best to ignore it.

Calling in sick for cramps?  If you had stomach cramps this bad, you'd likely spend the day on the couch.  What about staying home because the idea of making sure you change your pad every two hours is just too much to handle at work?  Or because you feel weakened by your body literally draining a portion of your life force?  Good luck being taken seriously.

I remember being a kid and hearing my mom and her female friends talk about their cycles or about what was going on with their periods, or about changes they were going through, and the sense of disbelief I felt that ANYONE would ever talk about that out loud.  HOW MORTIFYING!

The older I've gotten, though, the more sense it makes to me.  Every period is different, but let's think about this for a minute.  If the average period happens every 28 days and is four days long, that means that on average, HALF the population spends 52 days a year bleeding.  That's over a month.  And those are just the bleeding days.  Not the pre-bleeding days when you have to fight the bloat and PMS.  Guess what else?  Hormones shift when a period ends too, so irritability and discomfort can come then too.

Why are people so embarrassed about talking about something that is completely natural and happens so often?  It's 2018 and there's still SUCH a stigma about it.

In January of this year, I posted the following on my Facebook page:


The post got 27 comments, which is on the high-end for an everyday post.  It was engaging, and it was relate-able.  There is some excitement and a lot of relief in talking about something and sharing experiences with people who have been through the same things and can sympathize and commisserate.

Yet, we are quiet. 

I just went 2 months with  no period, and now I have been bleeding for 12 days.  Since Saturday, I have had moderate cramps, to the point that I am having trouble concentrating at work and took a hot bath Tuesday night even though I don't like sitting in my own soup.  I am uncomfortable and irritated.  Today, things finally picked up and I am simultaneously relieved and feel physically drained and uncomfortable. 

And?  I want to talk about it.  I am not ashamed that I am bleeding.  In fact, it makes me feel irritable that I'm supposed to be hush-hush about something that is a part of my life, and with the way my body is currently behaving, it's become a bigger part of my life than it ever has been in the past.

There is no reason for women to hide something so natural that happens so often.  I've become a big fan of talking about the things that are actually happening to me.  Sometimes, this means I'm willing to speak out about things other people shy away from.  Divorce, polyamory, sex, finances, bodily functions, fat positivity.  Why?  Because the more we talk about these things, the more everybody has the chance to realize that they are normal and that it's healthy to talk about them.

I have spent too many hours in this lifetime feeling alone because of what I was going through, and I am done with that.  I have spent too much time isolated, in pain, afraid, when there was love and support out there if I just reached for it.  What is the purpose of being a part of a community if we are not able to support each other in all parts of life? 
Even in 2017, talking about periods is still taboo. The idea that women’s menstrual cycles are gross or unclean or inappropriate is deeply rooted in patriarchy. In cultures dominated by men, periods are misunderstood, vilified, and pushed out of the public conversation. If men had periods we’d talk about them all the time. Making menstrual cycles taboo is a manifestation of the sexism that pervades many cultures.  source
And of course, this is all just me wanting to support other women, and turn to them for support when I need it.  This is me hoping that as generations go on, girls will be able to be body positive not only in how they perceive themselves, but in the way their body works.  I'm not even getting into the political and cultural and social ramifications of WHY this is all still something we whisper about, or the way our cycles are used as an excuse to dismiss and invalidate our emotions and life experiences.

So.  Are you bleeding?

You can talk to me about it.

Want to complain about your cramps?

I'll listen.

Need to rant about your irregular cycle?

I'm game!

Need some chocolate?

I've got a drawer-full at my desk.

Need to borrow some hydrogen peroxide?

I've got a huge bottle under my sink.

In this sisterhood of the bleeding uteri, you should never feel alone.


Don't stop now!  Recommended reading:

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