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!