Periods, pills, implants, cramps, injections, coils, mood swings… Us girls have to deal with a lot of crap from our bodies every month. I have personally struggled a lot when it comes to controlling my periods, ensuring I’m protected and generally not being an absolute bitch when Aunty Flo decides to make an appearance.
I am starting this series is to try and normalise discussions amongst women and break the taboo. We’re going to talk about everything from periods to contraceptives, from sexuality to masturbation. I think it’s really important that young girls are not just biologically educated, but have a bit of life experience to refer to. It can be really lonely when you are younger if you are not experiencing what is considered to be normal.
So here I am, probably being a bit TMI, in the hope that someone out there will read this and know that they are not alone.
Let’s start at the very beginning. I started my period age 11, towards the end of my final year in primary school. I was the first of my friends to get my period and I can remember feeling weirdly excited. To me, getting my period was this big life event where I was beginning to become a woman, and naive 11 year old me was excited about that.
As with most women, my periods began very irregular and heavy. Bearing in mind I was very petite and slim as a child, I used to feel really quite ill when I was on. I would feel sick, light-headed, dizzy, fatigued. I still think I may have possibly been anaemic, although this was never diagnosed. As I got older, I was assured that they would calm down, become regular and more manageable, but this didn’t happen.
Throughout high school, I was back and forth to the doctors trying to find some sort of remedy for what I can only describe as Niagara Falls. My periods were long and heavy, usually lasting more than 2 weeks with little break in between. I was in pain, I was miserable and I was fed up of not being “normal”. I tried changes in my diet, using different sanitary options and herbal remedies and nothing made a difference.
I feel at this point in my story it is important to share that leaks do happen. I’m not exaggerating when I say that my periods were unmanageable and that I would be in and out of the loo every hour trying to avoid the inevitable. If you are experiencing anything similar to what you are reading, please PLEASE go and see your doctor. I know it’s a bit embarrassing and awkward, but I can assure you that your doctor will have seen a lot worse than whatever you have got going on down there!
By the time I was 16, I had learnt ways to cope. I would double up on sanitary items, making sure I always had many extras in my bag just in case. If I stayed over at people’s houses, I took a spare of everything in case I had a leak. I was more open with my friends about what I was experiencing so they knew how to help me and to support me if something did go wrong. I wasn’t fixed, but I was mentally coping with my period a lot better.
Thankfully, my periods have evolved and calmed slightly as I have got older. I’ve tried so many different forms of contraception to help, from the pill to now having the coil. I’m still irregular as hell, but my bleeding is far lighter than it used to be. I do still struggle mentally with it, but it’s a lot better than it used to be.
I’ve really struggled to think of how to end this post, but ultimately I am hoping that by me being so open with you all and discussing what I have been through, it may encourage others to also speak out, or reassure you that you are not alone in what you are experiencing. Although I am still figuring out what is best for me (which I will discuss in a later post), I urge anyone who is having heavy, irregular or painful periods to open up to someone. The more we all talk about this natural process of the female body, the less embarrassing and awkward it gets!