Let’s Learn From Our Periods

A few years ago I read a book called Wild Power and more recently Period Power. Two amazing books that have given me an understanding of my mental and physical health, and a new found respect for my menstrual cycle.

I was a late starter. My periods started on a hot, Saturday afternoon in July 1985, I was 15. I had been waiting so long to catch up with the other girls at school and when I saw the blood in my pants I knew exactly what it meant. I wasn’t scared, I was relieved. Finally, I had ‘come on.’

I remember that my Mum was out at the time, but my dad was home. As the father of three daughters, I was lucky that his reaction was so positive. In fact, I think he was as relieved as me.

He gave me £50, told me to ditch my Doc Martens and go out and by some footwear more suitable for a lady. It was a mixed reaction, I was delighted with this enormous amount of cash, but loathed to exchange my DM’s for a pair of heels. When mum came home, she handed me a box of tampons and a packet of sanitary towels and after a brief explanation of how to contain the flow of blood, I was left to my own devices.

I recall looking at the pale blue leaflet inside the box of tampons and the basic anatomical drawing of the insides of a woman. Daunted by the diagram of a large pink canal winding its way up her insides, where apparently, the tampon would eventually sit. Then the realisation that wee and blood came out of two different exits. Following the instructions on the leaflet, I put one foot up on the toilet seat and started digging around with my fingers trying to find the right hole in which to clumsily insert the cardboard tube that dispensed a cotton wool plug. It was too much. I opted for sanitary towels.

My periods were heavy and painful, and after a brief visit to the Dr’s, I was put on the pill at sixteen. It sorted out my pain and acne, but it didn’t agree with my body and after a year I made the decision to take myself off it.

I wish books such as Wild Power had been around back then. Books which explained our menstrual cycle POSITIVELY. That would have changed the way we experienced our periods and opened up the conversation within families, schools and between friends.

For many of us, having periods is a negative experience. For over thirty years I’ve been saying “I’ve got my bloody period.” The language we use to describe our periods is anything but positive; painful, heavy, bad, horrendous, all words I’ve heard used by others and myself to describe, including PMT, 7-10 days of every month. I let my periods dictate my life and not in a positive way.

So as we transition into the next hormonal chapter of our lives, let’s learn from our periods. Let’s work with our bodies, not against them.

Let’s open up the conversation to friends and family. It’s more than OK to talk about what we are experiencing and how we are feeling.

Let’s accept the changes our bodies are making as naturally as we did at the beginning of our journey when we were young girls. Now we are older and wiser, we have more control and freedom over how we think and how we use medication. We can carefully choose the language we use to describe how our physical body is making us feel.

Our periods are not and never were ‘The Curse.’ They were the precursor to the women we are today. Our wonderful bodies are changing and after all these years, they want rid of the hormones that have played such a huge part already in our lives. The hormone imbalances will affect us all in different ways.

So let’s talk, change our language, and seek out the help we need to cope with our symptoms. Ladies, we are changing and society is changing. For the greater good, the world needs more Merry Menopausal women.