Period, a word that makes both men and women shudder. For YEARS I have been completely bewildered by the taboo subjects of periods. Women bleed every single month for roughly around 40 years. That’s a big old chunk of time, so why are we struggling to speak openly about periods? Currently, there are numerous activist groups encouraging women to speak about their period’s stories, so I wanted to jump on the bandwagon. In all it’s disgusting honesty, here is my period story (so far).
The First One
Oh, sweet lord. That day is imprinted in my memory and I think will haunt me beyond the grave. It was a cold rainy morning back when I was 11 years old and I awoke to the worst tummy ache of all time. I remember genuinely thinking I was on the verge of death. I locked myself in the bathroom and couldn’t figure out what was happening. At that point I’d had NO conversations about periods, I didn’t know fully what it was or what I should do. So, 11 years old me had no idea that this pain was the dreaded arrival of my period. Two kids going to schools nowhere near one another and, two working parents there was no time for me to be moaning on the toilet. My mother, bless her, ruled me as trying to bag a sick day (boy cried wolf moment for me, was notorious for pulling sickies) and shipped me off to school. I spent the whole day in complete agony. I had no understanding of what was happening. I also never even thought to go check in the toilet. So getting home at 4 pm I was horrified to discover the stain in my pants and the blood in my wee. I remember crying, my mum I’m pretty sure was crying too. That first step into adulthood had come leaving both of us pretty shellshocked. It was a nasty old day that started me off on a very bad foot with the menstrual cycle.
The Worst Years
11 to 16 were the worst years of all time, in every single sense of the description. The cherry on the cake of those years were the week of crippling pain I went through 12 weeks of the year. Not only would the cramps leave me reeling, I would suffer from sickness/dizziness/diarrhoea. My period would have me bed bound for at least 2-3 days. Thing is, when most have a period it can become a game of- ‘oh toughen up, it’s never that bad for me’. Doctors trips, chatting to friends or to the school nurse left me feeling ridiculous for even bringing it up.
It was my Aunty who eventually said enough was enough and passed me a mefenamic acid tablet. Taking that first one was a MIRACLE WORKER so, my mum frog marched me to the doctors and we demanded to be put on a prescription of them. They were a gift from God I swear. No more side effects and no more pain. I was skipping through each period. Until about November 2017. I broke out in the worst rash, to the point where my skin around my nose was completely peeling away. My parents were convinced I’d got scarlet fever, nobody had a clue what was wrong with me. My mum tracked that this had happened twice before on a much smaller scale in October and September. It was happening every month. Both of our heads turned to that shiny tube of blue tablets and realised that those blessings came with their own storm of crap to deal with. I was taken off the tablets immediately and went back to gritting my teeth through the periods from hell.
Throughout the whole time of having periods every doctor we saw all said that a contraceptive implant or pill would likely be the best option. At 11-17 I just didn’t want to take that route. Roll on August 2018, both my friend and I had just got into relationships so we decided for a cute day out to get contraceptive implants fitted. It was AWFUL. Being ridiculously squeamish the thought of having something inside my arm freaked me out. I was so scared of touching it. The worst part- I bled pretty much constantly from August 2018 through to February 2019. Yep. I went to university and found that I had no energy. I felt so low, would never have enough energy to get me through the day. I was bloated 24/7 and felt utterly vile. I started taking iron supplements to battle the tiredness but they proved no help. Entering into the seventh month of bleeding I decided to draw the line and have it removed. Disclaimer to the above story, this is not the experience of everyone with an implant. My friend who got hers fitted that day, never bled at all and loves hers. Unfortunately, I just drew the short straw.
The Lil devil removed from my arm, I got put onto the contraceptive pill. When you first start with a contraceptive device that is producing hormones the nurse tells you that you need to wait 3 months before you settle into a routine. February to May I found it hard to adjust to the pill. Unlike the implant that stopped all cramps, the pill didn’t remove any pain. In those first few months, I found I was still more or less continually bleeding and this time with pain, woohoo brilliant. However, three months passed and the pill became a DREAM. Over summer I opted for taking the pill continuously for 2-3 packets then having a break. It was a revelation!!! For the first time in nearly a year, I wasn’t bleeding. Being able to walk around all day without having to worry about changing or being anxious about a sudden leak. It sounds so silly but, it was so freeing to be able to have no period troubles at all. For the first time in NINE YEARS, I’ve not had any complaints at all about my period.
I mean the pill and I are best friends. Being able to free me from period troubles that haunted me for NINE YEARS I wasn’t not going to love it. However, the contraceptive pill has still left me with side effects I’m not too chuffed with. Since being on contraception full stop both myself and others around me have noticed the detriment it’s had on my mood. I’ve found myself a lot more irritable and it’s become a lot easier for me to fall into really anxious states of mind. I also get a lot more headaches. Back in August, I had a headache so painful it sent me to A&E, so the pill is still providing me with minor complications. However, on a whole, it’s been the perfect solution to a whole other range of issues that had plagued me for nearly a decade.
So yeah periods- gross huh. Not anybody’s favourite topic yet, it’s important for us to start talking about them. I wish back when I was 11 they’d been blog posts or interviews or campaigns talking about periods. I was completely uneducated on them and because of that, I found them a lot harder to deal with. I spent the majority of my teens thinking I was completely unreasonable for reacting so badly to them. I didn’t realise that tons of people also suffered from the mass pain I had. It was a blessing to read and take comfort in it wasn’t just me! I encourage you to start discussing the unspoken P-word. Make it an open discussion point and change the narrative for future females. If you’re interested in more open discussions about periods, literally just type in ‘period projects’ on google and you will get met with thousands of amazing campaigns!