Public Service Announcement: Periods 101

I’m not talking about grammar. I’m talking about the monthly visitor. Aunt Flo. Or, as we refer to it in my household, the painters.

So, you know, you may not want to read any further. However, if you are married or otherwise share a household with a woman, and/or if you are raising daughters, you may want to stick around.

Here’s the upshot: Periods aren’t gross. Or dirty. Or disgusting.

They are normal and healthy, albeit a tad inconvenient at times.

I understand that the sight of blood can be off putting, even, to young children, alarming. Since having children, when I go to the bathroom at home, I seldom do it alone. I’ve had to have explain (in very simple terms) “feminine napkins”, or pads, panty liners, and tampons much earlier than I ever figured I would have to.

My mother was very matter-of-fact about menstruation. She gave me what I needed when I needed it. When I confessed I was nervous about using tampons (which I was until I went to college), she told me there was nothing to be nervous about, but also said pads were fine at my age.

I, too, plan to be matter-of-fact about menstruation. I’m not going to go all new-Age, Wiccan mystic on it, that the womb produces earth-blood and is a sacred space, yadda, yadda, yadda.

But I would like to dispel the notion that when women’s bodies do the stuff that women’s bodies are supposed to do it’s something to be hidden, or be ashamed of, or treated like a big dirty secret. Or worse, like a disease.

Menstruation is normal and healthy. So for that matter is pregnancy. Neither is something that needs to be “treated” by doctors or medication. Yeah, sometimes women are going to have cramps and need ibuprophen and, maybe, a heating pad. That takes some getting used to. So do tampons. And hormones.

And, for the record, I have had very few problems with menstruation. I don’t have PCOS or fibroids or endometriosis. For a few months in my late 20s, I had amenorreah due — of all things — to too much vitamin A in my diet. I had to give up sweet potatoes, carrots, and cantaloupe for a few months until things regulated. That was about as wonky as my period got.

So: husbands, fathers, guys, don’t treat your SO’s or daughter’s periods as something gross and to be shunned. It’s perfectly normal. If you’re not comfortable with having sex while your wife is menstruating, that’s okay. (It’s probably okay with her, too.) We’re way past the day of the red tent, okay?

Also for the record, I practically jump up and down every time I get my period these days. Because, really, it’s too early for menopause, and not getting my period would mean (probably) one thing. And I’m not really up for that again!

12 thoughts on “Public Service Announcement: Periods 101

  1. Amen! I am so glad when I get my period I about scare everyone in the house. And now that I’ve had babies, I now have the most gentle of all cycles. No cramps, just moody and it lasts 5 days and done. Not even the slightest bit heavy.

    I say it’s a gift my kids gave to me.

    Also – if you want no cramps during the period, I highly suggest the Diva Cup. Seriously, it’s an amazing invention.

    • My hormonal PMS has gotten worse, unfortunately. My periods are okay, not as crampy, but the hormones — it’s been bad. Like I’m thinking of medication bad, which isn’t like me. I’ll look into the Diva Cup. Thanks. 🙂

    • Yeah it was bizarre. I had just gone off hormonal BC, so I thought it was related to that, but I was having other, um, issues that lead me to check with my ob/gyn at the time. One of the giveaways: my palms were orange. For true.

  2. I struggle with this with my eight-year-old. She is very squeamish; hates blood, injuries, seeing dead animals on the road (that usually results in 10 minutes of tears), etc. I don’t know how I am going to explain this to her without incident. A few weeks ago, she noticed my tampon when we were showering at the pool, and I explained it as something that she would not have to worry about for years (because most girls wait to use tampons), but girls do go through this. I know that is lame. And I so don’t want to be my mother, who could not even tell fourth grade me what the movie was that we were going to see in school (about periods). She said that the teachers would talk about it. Ugh. Any advice?

    • My advice is twofold: 1. What i said above. It’s healthy; it’s normal. 2. It’s not an injury. It doesn’t mean anything is hurt. As a matter of fact, if she wants to have babies, it’s a good thing! Good luck. I figure a little info at a time is better than ALL the info at once. 🙂

      • Once the kid found out where a baby exited from and that it hurts (probably a little TMI, too soon, on my part), she has decided she is going to adopt. But, yes, your other suggestions are good!

      • Absolutely! But there is still so much genital and female body shaming in this country…its refreshing to see other women promoting the OPPOSITE for the next generation. 🙂

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