I never had what I would call a ‘positive relationship’ with periods growing and after getting my first period aged 14, I found it hard to embrace my unwelcome visitor. But here’s the thing, I was never taught that ‘having periods’ was a ‘good thing’ and when my periods would last weeks, sometimes months – yes that is a thing, I felt ‘gross’. And when I would hear my friends moaning about how they had to endure a ‘5 day period’ I felt like asking them how they would feel if their vagina never stopped bleeding. Heck when I told them that the average length of my ‘period’ was 14 days and heavy, even on the last day they looked at me like I was some sort of freak and truth is I felt like I was a little bit weird.
After all, if all my friends were having 5 day periods then why on earth were mine so God damn heavy and long? And the doctors were just as perplexed as I was; even to this day, the official diagnosis around my lengthy periods remain a mystery. To top off the quite literal cherry on the cake, there would be months where I didn’t even have a period at all, so I never knew when my period would pay me a visit. When I got an implant in aged 17, after the ‘pill’ was no longer an option, my periods went from bad to worse. During my three years of having an implant, I would have a three month period where I would not bleed at all and then 5 months where on and off I would be bleeding pretty much every day. It sounds like something that I have made up but the truth is during those three years I would be bleeding for most of the year.
And how are my periods now I hear you ask? While I am no longer bleeding for months on end, I still have periods most months and they typically last between 14-17 days. I get heavy cramps that are sometimes so painful that I cry in pain and my stomach is almost always bloated. My skin breaks out frequently and I often have nausea and fevers alongside my periods. But here’s the thing, the one thing that they didn’t teach you in SEX ED, not all periods should be seen as bad. In fact without periods, our life expectancy would be reduced by 4%, we wouldn’t have an excuse to eat tubs of ice cream in our pj’s and above all we need our periods to ‘cleanse our body’.
Yes that’s right you heard me… but how on earth can ‘blood’ cleanse your body and rid it of harmful toxins? Well the truth is our period cycles bring ‘good bacteria’ into the body, which can prevent against diseases like Alzheimer’s, strokes or cardiovascular diseases. So while our periods might make us feel like poop, why aren’t we period positive yet if it prevents against diseases, cleanses your body and is an ‘indicator’ of health? The problem is, experiences like mine where I have no diagnosis for why I bleed for such a long period of time and the chronic pain that I get alongside it means that automatically we are conditioned by our ‘conditions’ to have an ‘unhealthy relationship’ with our periods. After all it’s hard to be overjoyed by something that brings you pain! But as part of my ‘feel good week’ I have made it my mission to explore why we should be more period positive in 2017.
- Because We Have Vaginas. Freaking Embrace It.
I get that it is hard to be period positive, when we have been conditioned from a young age to see our periods as ‘disgusting’ After all I have lost count of the amount of times I have been told ‘its disgusting to leak through clothes and bedding’, when questioning others about their attitudes towards periods. And I must admit I was once this girl; I was out with friends during a night out and slept over at a friends. In the morning I was horrified to see that I had leaked through the bedding and couldn’t apologize enough. But why should I be made to apologize? Society makes us feel like we should be embarrassed to talk about our bodies and be open about our periods but we shouldn’t be. Its why I wrote this post. Not only did I want to challenge my own views on periods but I wanted to show others that actually having a vagina is fucking awesome. Hell, we can have sex, piss in a toilet without people watching us- unless you have little ones- and pleasure ourselves as much as we want to. I know that it seems to be ‘legendary’ for men to talk about wanking but I have lost count of the amount of people who have told me ‘to not talk about sex’ because its ‘unladylike’. Oh I am sorry does my sex chat offend your prudish ears, kindly go wait another room because s**t’s about to get graphic from here on. So you can imagine people’s reaction when I talk about ‘periods’, I can picture the comments now ‘keep it private’ or ‘that’s disgusting, why would you talk about your vagina’. Well let me tell you something? Why is it that when a guy talks about his dick he is celebrated but when someone who identifies as a woman tries to create an open and healthy discourse around menstruation she is vilified. It just doesn’t make sense!
But here is why our vagina’s are awesome-and if you’re a male reader don’t worry dicks are great too!
- Period’s unite us. Our ‘shared genitalia’ aka vagina, va jay jay, pussy, whatever you want to call it means that we are all part of a ‘valued community’called the vagina club. Whether you call your vagina fairy or ‘fadge’ doesn’t make a difference.
- Vagina’s are strong. When we get pregnant or give birth, we have to endure high levels of pain. So in a way having periods are ‘mini preparations’ for the pain we have to withstand during labor. When a guy gets kicked in the nuts he squeals, but we push ‘literal life’ through our vagina’s and are not rewarded? Come on, if there weren’t vagina’s we wouldn’t have humanity and without humanity our world would cease to exist.
- Period’s Make Us Healthy- not only do periods help us regulate and protect against diseases like Alzheimer’s but without periods, we wouldn’t celebrate our vagina’s each month. Sure society might not appreciate us being loud and proud about our periods but who gives a fuck. I certainly don’t.
2. To Be Better Role Models To Our Children, Friends and Colleagues
I grew up in a non period positive environment and was often shamed for having heavy flow periods. When so called friends would see ‘tampons’ and pads in my bag they would laugh and throw them out of my bag so that people in my class could laugh at me. But why were they laughing? Well because A. vagina’s are seen as something to poke fun at and B. because ‘tampons and pads are seen as a taboo. I have lost count of the amount of times growing up that I would get embarrassed about buying ‘supplies’ as I would glance over at the cashier who would give me that ‘look’. But why should we care what some strangers think? At the end of the day it is our bodies and the better we are at being period positive and embracing our time (s) of the month, the more of a role model we can be for those who look up to us. If I grew up thinking that periods were the freaking bees knees then maybe it wouldn’t have taken me so long to ‘practice period positivity’ but I’m glad that I know now. Young children are impressionable so we should show them that having periods does not make them ‘abnormal’. But ‘complaining’ about your periods and about how much you hate them will only show them that period’s are a negative process when it is the complete opposite.
Sure no one likes getting cramps and having blood gushing out your fanny is not something I’m going to throw a party about. But and its a big but, ‘we shouldn’t project our embarrassment on the people around us. After all, imagine telling your daughter about how much you ‘hate your period’ that’s not going to make her be period positive now is it?
But how can we better role models to our loved ones and be more period positive in the process?
- Don’t shut them down when they have questions about your period. Even if its your male neighbor who is confused about how periods work, don’t be embarrassed. Its perfectly natural to have someone ask you questions so you should be as open and honest as possible. Even if it is your two year old daughter whose asking why ‘mummy is bleeding’ instead of telling them to get out, tell them in age appropriate terms what is going on. I remember having a friend whose son went into the bathroom when she was on her period and he exclaimed ‘ew yuck’. But it’s not yuck and as she explained to him that she needed it to be ‘healthy’ he realized that periods were not something to be disgusted by. It is the positive attitude that we need to ensure loved ones are period positive.
- Don’t be afraid to use ‘clinical terminology’. Your kids might not understand at the time, but often people create nicknames out of embarrassment. Now in my case I tend to call my ‘vagina’ well vagina but in other peoples cases they may call it a nickname like ‘noon’ or ‘fanny’ which while not harmful can be often used to mask your embarrassment. Instead create diagrams and educate children on things like the labia, vulva ect and create menstruation cycle charts that show them how periods work. It’s so important to remove the stigma or taboo associated with periods. Period talk is nothing to be embarrassed about.
3. To Help Others Talk About Their Periods Too
Why should we have to use code words and talk about our periods behind closed doors? Because society thinks it is ‘gross’ if we bleed on our beds? God forbid we buy tampons and pads in public, after all isn’t that what ‘online shopping’ is for? LOL. But all jokes aside we really do need to talk about periods. Because if we don’t talk about them then who will? So here I am talking about my period; I bleed for weeks at a time, have major level of cramps and even wearing a super plus tampon and pad is sometimes not enough to stem my menstrual flow. But that’s ok. It’s not disgusting and don’t let anyone let you feel that way. Menstruation is nothing to be ashamed of and the sooner we get to grips with that the better.
Which brings me to my next point, I remember having a group discussion with friends about ‘period sex’ and while the majority of them said they hadn’t had sex on their period, I said that I had because as you remember when I was on my implant I was on my period a hell of a lot. Queue the chorus of groans and ‘ews’ and I found myself joining in with them but here’s the thing. Having sex on your period can actually be pleasurable; your sex drive heightens during your menstruation cycle and you might find yourself masturbating a lot more than you would on a regular basis. Plus did you know that orgasms are a great way of alleviating menstrual pain? So the next time you find yourself groaning at the thought of having sex on your period, stop and think about how your words can be conceived as ‘damaging’. I’m not saying you have to have sex on your period but don’t shame those who do. That’s not cool.
So How Can You Help Others Talk About Their Periods ?
- Create a hashtag like #periodtalkmatters and establish Twitter chats and campaigns centered around celebrating your period. It could be initiating a series of questions with period positive tweeters , like asking them what they like about their periods or even creating a discussion panel with experts to answer their audiences questions. Whatever your creative idea, use the power of social media to promote period positivity.
- Don’t be embarrassed to tell people that you can’t go out because your period pains are that bad. I find that people tend to look for another excuse because they feel like ‘period pain’ is not enough of a reason. Don’t be like that, if you need to cancel because of your period be honest and upfront! By showing that periods are nothing to be ashamed of you are creating an open and healthy discourse around period discussion.
- Be open about what type of ‘period control’ you use. For me my own personal preference is tampons as I have a heavy blood flow but for others they wear pads and some even use ‘cups’. Whatever you choose don’t feel like you need to follow your friends choices, go with what makes you feel the most comfortable. Above all remember that there is always a need for menstrual activism.
4. Being Period Positive Means We Can Be More Invested In Self-Care
Now self-care is a biggie. I admit I have not always been the best in investing in my health and wellbeing and that is something I am looking to change especially in light of recent events. But here’s the thing, when we are feeling like a poop emoji, why the hell are we not acknowledging that pain and doing something to make ourselves feel better? It could be watching your favourite movie or having a candle light bath, but having your period dosen’t mean you should curl up in a ball. Do things that make you happy and if you are struggling to feel grateful about your period, write a gratitude list and stick it on your wardrobe door listing all the reasons why periods are FAB. It could be anything from ‘periods are fab because they cleanse my bodies from toxins’ to periods are great because they help me achieve better orgasms. Whatever your story, praise the period creator. Because without periods we would be pretty darn f**ked.
But what can we do to create a better self-care routine during our time of the month?
- Masturbate. Yep I said it, the elephant in the room. Contrary to what people may think , one in four women in the UK masturbate each day and judging by my own sexual habits I would say that figure is pretty accurate. After all masturbation is a great stress reliever, so being on your period shouldn’t be less of a reason to wank. And yes wanking does count as self care.
- Schedule out an evening that is dedicated to ‘me-time’ and indulge in your favourite activities. Perhaps that means that you have an hour in a hot steaming bubble bath, surrounded by steaming scented candles or maybe read your favourite novel. Even a 25 minute ‘me time’ schedule can help you feel lifted during your period.
- Spend a lil’ money. It’s never a good idea to over-spend especially when you have bills to pay and rent is due. But if you have not treated yourself to something in months and have been lusting after a sweet pair of boots. Go for it. Consider it your much needed treat from your ‘period fairy’ #yourwelcome.
5. Being Ashamed Of Period Menstruation Is Outdated. Get Over It.
It saddens me that in some countries women and girls are made to feel ashamed of their periods. Look at what happened to Kiran Gandhi for free-bleeding while running the London marathon last April. She was publicly shamed with many labelling her running without a tampon as ‘being disgusting as fuck’. Get over yourself, try having a tampon wedged up your vagina while running a race and see how you feel? Yeah… exactly. So what if Gandhi wanted to run without a tampon or pad, if that is what makes her feel comfortable then so be it. And let’s not forget the public outcry at Rupi Kaur’s photo of a woman menstruating, when yet again Instagram censored the female body. Oh sorry your not allowed to wear clothing that shows your nipples, oh sorry I don’t like seeing a woman breastfeed, oh sorry seeing a woman on her period is offensive to my ‘sensitive eyes’. Why should these women be censored by social media for embracing their bodies and celebrating what they have been given? So it’s ok for Kim Kardashian to get naked with a bottle of champagne, but celebrating our periods is offensive? Oh please get over yourselves. Wake up and smell the god damn coffee.
And do you know why these women were punished for highlighting ‘periods”, because their decision to go without pads. tampons or cups only too evidently pointed out the lack of ‘menstrual education ‘ that our society, particularly those in poverty face every single month. In some countries women are sent away when their time of the month comes because to society they are ‘soiled’ and ‘dirty’, while in others many women and girls who can’t afford pads and tampons, have no choice but to free bleed. Yet society ridicules them for not having access to menstrual supplies anyway? As Ghandi stated in her interview with Dazed, about running 26 miles on her period,
‘we, as a society, have been conditioned to pretend that periods don’t exist, and been taught to define strength through silence and not by the ability to speak out. “There are situations where it is actually a medical emergency or you’re experiencing extreme discomfort, for example in school or a work place. You do not feel safe or comfortable talking about it – we have been told that this is not allowed.”
and she’s right. I grew up in a culture where I was told to ignore my mental and physical pain because like Gandhi said ‘we have been told that this is not allowed’. We are often shamed for speaking out and yet shouldn’t we raise awareness? We should count ourselves lucky that we have access to menstrual supplies, where in many countries having access to tampons or pads is not an option. So the next time you moan about having to wear a tampon remember this. It is our attitudes towards periods that shapes the opinions of those around us. The more that we spread positivity, the more likely they are to have an open and happy relationship with their own bodies.
Do the right thing be period positive.
What Are Your Thoughts? Would You Say You Are Period Positive?
Please note this is a collaborative post with Totmorganic as part of their #talkingperiods campaign but I was not compensated for this post and all thoughts are my own.
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