So, I don’t know about anyone else (female that is) but I swear I post about my period every month on Twitter. It’s always something subtle about how emotional I am at that moment and that it’s the time of the month that’s why I’m crying at cat videos.
I don’t even use the word ‘period’. Why do we as women skirt around the issue by saying ‘time of the month’ or I’ve ‘come on’, the worst is when you’re asked ‘are you pmsing?’ by the way only women are allowed to ask these questions (tentatively depending on the month), men have no rights, so don’t even go there.
I started my period a week before my 13th birthday, so nearly 22 years ago (shit I’m old). I actually thought there was something wrong with me that I had started so late, the girls in my school who had talked about it in hush whispers, it was almost like a club I wasn’t allowed to be a part of.
A feeling as a tall, shy British-Asian kid I knew too well. The other club I wasn’t allowed into was talking bras, I didn’t develop breasts until later and only got to a B cup which even to this day has never changed. I suppose now I’m not bothered my bras are a hell of a lot cheaper than those girls with bigger breasts (small victories, and sorry girls that you have to pay through the roof!).
Anyway back to periods, everyone’s favourite subject.
I don’t know about other women but having your period used to be more traumatic as a teenager than it is now. Or felt to be more so, I may have just got used to it over time. 22 years is enough time to start getting used to something.
As a teenager your periods are heavy and last 7 days, that’s a lot in the space of a month. My mum and dad never gave us the ‘where do babies come from talk’ or ‘did you know you’re going to bleed once a month’ chat, a heads up would’ve been nice guys!
Nope, like most typical Indian parents they relied on school to educate and inform us. Lazy sods.
To give some props to my secondary school, we did all receive a box of tampons each. We were told about sanitary products, but none of the girls seemed to talk about it (well at least not with me). I wish I had, I practically used the entire box one evening trying to get them in. It took a whole box to even get it in properly and even then I don’t think I did, but as a shy 12 year old learning about Toxic Shock Syndrome you think you’re going to die if left in longer than 30 seconds. Besides it felt odd!
So my option was pads, I opted to wearing the night time ones during the day because they were longer and although not comfortable and feel like you’re wearing a nappy, they were somewhat effective. I once tried the pads with wings, I really don’t understand the point of them to this day. They’re advertised as to offer better protection against leaks…how?! If you’re leaking and there are wings they fold over so you leak further!?!?!? Right girls?!
As I got into my twenties they’d calmed down slightly. Have to point out that at this stage I’d been very lucky that I didn’t suffer often from cramps or the diarrhoea and/or vomiting that periods can cause, unlike my poor sister! I got better at tracking them, though no need as I’m as regular as clock work. They just seemed easier to manage as an adult. The tricky bit was discreetly taking a pad or tampon (or your whole handbag) to the bathroom to change at work without anyone noticing it. It’s not like you can discreetly hide the products they’re not exactly sound proof packaging, sound like a firecracker is going off and of course they are every colour under the sun!
Now I’m in my thirties and my periods aren’t that bad. I find that the anger issues I had leading up to them in my twenties has been superseded by being an emotional wreck of a human. I literally have no control over my emotions and cry about anything and everything, it’s highly irritating.
I also learnt, having conversations with other women when I was older, that using both a tampon and a pad to prevent leakage is perfectly normal for the heaviest of days! Why wasn’t I aware of this as a teenager! I assumed if you wore a tampon for 8 hours you didn’t need anything else. Oh my god that was a horrible experience. It happened only once! (I’m shuddering at the memory, it was like a mass murder had occurred!).
If I ever have a daughter I would definitely have the chat with her, I don’t know if it’s an Indian or Asian thing not to discuss these things with your children, is it still a taboo? I recently asked my Mum, originally from India, what she used for protection as a teenager and I have to say as unpleasant as the leaking was wearing a pad sounds preferably to wearing a towel strapped to you!
That and my school uniform was black so thank god for small mercies!
NB…Me, my sister and girlfriends are definitely more open to talk about our periods, more so than I ever was as a teenager and that’s a great thing! You learn you’re not alone as it can feel isolating, even though you know other women are going through the exact same thing every month. It’s 2017 ladies let’s not be ashamed to discuss our flow.
Have a good day xo