[Life] Periods: The Bloody Truth

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When I read Zebra Rose’s ‘Periodpocalpyse’ last week, which you should all have read too because I linked to it in my last #SoSS post, I had two thoughts … 1. I really need to write about periods and related stuff and 2. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a place we could all collate our period musings. As you can see I’m taking care of No.1 and to my delight Bee from A to sub-Bee is handling No.2.

She has started a project called Menstruation Matters (Fuck yeah it does) and is inviting us all to link existing posts or new posts like this one to the list. I’ve been having periods for 21 years now and I think the catharsis of writing about them is much needed, so thank you to Zebra Rose and Bee for the push I needed. Be warned though, I am like to rant, moan, curse and generally be one pissed off lady during this post! Proceed with caution and if you got a tale to tell about periods then let’s hear it.

The Beginning

I started my periods when I was 13. My Mum was at work and it was just before school. My step-dad luckily was pretty chill about this stuff, and after I’d phoned my Mum and let her know, we did the passing of the phone and once he knew that was that. I luckily had some sanitary towels in my room from the class we’d had at school, syphoned away from the boys of course, about periods.

It didn’t seem like a big deal to be honest. My parents being fairly relaxed about it probably helped, my Mum did ask if was okay with it all and I honestly was. You bled, you used the required products to make the next few days comfortable, job done. WRONG!! The actual journey I was about to embark on was much different to the calm, relaxed notion I had of periods on that very first day.

The Bloody Reality

How best to describe what my monthly periods became? It is an answer that deserves careful thought because I want you, my wonderful reader, to be under no illusion as to how much of a bloodbath by teenage years were and not in the fun kinky way.

For every period I had between the ages of 13 and 16 I felt like some was repeatedly stabbing me in the lower abdomen, twisting the knife in good and proper and then pushing the bloody mess they’d made out through my vagina with the same knife. To be clear I am not exaggerating, my periods were excruciatingly painful. I cried. I got dizzy, I passed out, I felt sick, I was sick, I was anaemic and the most joyful part of all was my periods lasted anywhere for 7 to 11 days!

Doctor! Doctor!

Being the attentive parent that she was my Mum made sure to get me to the doctor because she’d had periods pains in her time but was blown away by how extreme mine seemed. Now for many people writing about their periods, this is the point at which they discover they had an underlying problem. Not for me though. This is overall a blessing and knowing the trauma various conditions can put you through I am exceptionally grateful that there were no underlying issues. However, at the time, it didn’t really feel that way because it meant there was no real way to solve the problem. This was just how my periods were and that was that.

I spent the next three years just getting on with it and taking Feminax like they were smarties during my painful days. I missed out on swimming, sleepovers and had more than my fair share of ruined knickers, bloody bed sheets and standing up to discover my trousers were no match for my flow and the whole world could see I was ‘on’! Urgh! Period terminology may well be a whole other post!

Sweet Sixteen

As I mentioned above 13-16 were the horror years. I know what you’re all thinking, that at 16 I’d finally paid my period dues, and whatever despicable act I was being punished for had been forgiven, and I woke up one day cramp free, with a lovely light flow and periods were all flowers and sunshine from then one. I wish this were true but actually not so much.

What happened was i woke up one day with a period so bad I couldn’t leave my bed. I was in so much pain I couldn’t tell if I was drifting off to sleep or passing out, I was incoherent, convinced I was dying and quite frankly I probably didn’t care at the time if I did. That is a lot of pain for something natural that we are expected to go through ‘each month’ (again more menstrual timelines in another post).

My Mum called the Doctor out, i think if he hadn’t offered some useful assistance then she probably would have called a priest out to do an exorcism. God bless that Doctor though, he came armed with his prescription pad and the beginning of a solution for me.

Contraceptive Relief

Contraceptives will need to be a future post too because some of my experiences with them aren’t relevant here. The part that is relevant though is that Doctor who came to my home suggesting I go on the pill.

My Mum was overall a pretty cool lady, but she did have her moments of being very conservative in her thinking, which means there was a definite moment of ‘only promiscuous teenagers go on the pill and my daughter is angelic and viginal’. I mean she was a bit right, at 16 I had zero interest in boys or frolicking with penises, but I loved that the Doctor was offering me a possible solution.

He left me with a prescription for the microgynon contraceptive pill and some Mefenamic Acid, which wasn’t the greatest at easing my pain, but it did help somewhat.

Obviously it took some time for the pill to become effective in managing my periods. They definitely made a massive difference to my suffering, but monthly periods were still a huge interruption in my life, and my physical symptoms were always enough to keep me home for at least 5 days. Which led to the recommendation from my GP that I only took a break from the pill every 3 months. I did this from the age of 17 to 23. Every doctor I’ve ever spoken to sees no issues with this and says that there should not have been any fall out from my doing that. I am perhaps inclined to disagree, but again that remains a post for another day.

Back to Nature

From the ages of 23 to 27 I stopped taking the pill and let my periods settled into a natural pattern. The reason? Making babies. Well actually making one baby! In 4 years I got pregnant once, and that pregnancy resulted in my little boy. Periods and fertility issues absolutely need there own space. I will tell you know though that emotionally is was not picnic, but physically I did have to note that my periods were not as bad as they had been during my teenage years.

There were cramps and i sometimes had a heavy flow, but overall I had a regular cycle and I’d really only need one duvet day during my bleeding days. I was always being told as a teenager that age and having babies had a positive effect on your menstrual cycle. While I still think it’s horseshit to feed that to every woman, because it just isn’t true for everyone, I have to concede that it was true for me.

After the Bambino

Once I’d had my baby, I realised I’d quite liked being contraceptive free during those years and wanted to keep a natural cycle. My periods had improved even more so it seems since having him, and I got far fewer cramps and during many periods I didn’t have to take to my bed, not even for one day. Paracetamol and Ibuprofen seemed sufficient pain management, and overall having periods was no longer a blight on my life and they had stopped causing the disruption they always had done.

Present Day Periods

I’m now using the contraceptive implant, just for shits and giggles really because I don’t have unprotected sex and I don’t actually have much P.I.V sex either. It does mean however that my periods are a bit random. When I do have them though they really aren’t that bad, I get the odd day where I cramp up, but it’s more like being stabbed with a toothpick than a knife. I get the odd day of heavy flow but more often than not it’s light  to regular.

I actually feel like a bit of a traitor. I really was in the painful, abhorrent period gang and I feel like I’ve abandoned you all for my flowers and sunshine menstruation! Fear not though, I still remember those knife attack days well and I’m ready to correct anyone who thinks people suffer from periods and period related issues are attention seeking or just have great fun making shit up.

As natural and as necessary as periods may be many people really do have to deal with way more hassle than they are worth, quite often the very reason we have periods (procreation) becomes impossible alongside very complicated periods. Which can lead to a whole host of physical and emotional issues that people with fairly un-problematic reproductive systems don’t ever have to consider.

With that in mind let’s make ‘Menstruation Matters’ the place where we can share our experiences, discover the plights of others and maybe between we can create a open and informative conversation about that ‘time of the month’. Ugh! Terminology I am coming for you!

Words with a honey texture reading 'Menstruation Matter'.
If Menstruation Matters To You. Get involved!

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