I want to start an honest conversation about our periods, because we shouldn’t be so weird about such a normal thing that 50% of the population experiences.
I was almost embarrassed/nervous to share this post until I realized that’s my exact point. I don’t want periods to be a topic to be nervous or embarrassed by. I’m coming at you today, not from a place of expertise, but of curiosity, frustration and a dash of incredulity. Usually I like to write posts that share lots of actionable tips, but today I just want to start a conversation.
I want to talk about periods.
I feel like periods are one of those topics that we’re SO bad at talking about as a society. No, I’m not saying that we have to have daily chats about our flo, but for god’s sake can we stop treating it like a thing to “cure” or be so embarrassed by? News flash – if you’re a woman, you’re gonna get your period. It’s so normal. Can we stop being weird about it? Or worse, just acting like it’s a thing we can hide.
Why are we speaking in code?
Do we really have to say “lady products” – no. I’m sorry, I’m going to go buy my freaking tampons (or whatever product I need) because that’s life – it’s not like saying “Voldemort.” Fifty percent of the population shares this experience and the other 50% should at least be curious instead of grossed out.
I’m not saying that I’ve been systematically lied to about my 28 day cycle, but I can say for sure I’ve been chronically under informed. That’s not for a lack of trying either. I’m curious about all parts of my health. It seems that over and over again this thing that has a big impact on our health is treated like a side note. And another thing…
It’s a Big Deal to Stop Getting Your Period
Want to hear something crazy? I stopped getting my period for six years, from when I was 17 to 22. Deep down I knew it wasn’t ok. I knew my health was suffering, but on the surface I thought “oh sweet, one less thing to worry about.”
And my doctor was super nonchalant about it too. When I told her that I ran most days she replied, “lots of athletes lost their periods.” Fine – you don’t need to sound an alarm bell and try to scare me, but isn’t that a big deal? Just because I “looked healthy” doesn’t mean I was. In my head (filled with disordered thoughts at the time) I heard “you’re not a real athlete if you have your period.” So did I do anything to try to get it back? Of course not.
Rather than seeing my cycle as an important factor of my overall health I saw it as a nuisance I could get rid of by keeping up my disordered eating and exercise addiction. Knowing that I don’t ever want kids, I also brushed off any long term repercussions. But infertility is just one long term repercussion. Amenorrhea (loss of your period) can also lead to osteoporosis. Super scary, because you know, bones are pretty damn important.
There’s more to (period) life than tampons
Finally about a year and a half ago, I started getting my period regularly again. I believe it was largely to do with gaining enough weight and scaling back the intense exercise. And now that I’m back in the business, I’m more frustrated than ever.
I believe we have a shockingly small variety of mainstream options when it comes to sanitary products. The waste that tampons and pads create is alarming. The more I learn about what goes into mainstream products the more angry I get. Turns out there are quite a few chemicals in non-organic pads and tampons. Companies don’t even have to disclose everything that’s in them. WTF?! (Sources: here & here)
Why didn’t anyone tell me this earlier?!
Also, I’ve been over here using maximum absorbency because #easier – but it turns out that can lead to over absorption. That means it (over) absorbs the good and the bad, which can leave you unbalanced post-period (source). If you’ve ever experience yeast infections or UTI’s post-period this might be a contributing factor. If you don’t, spoiler alert: they suck.
Anyway when I get back to the States, I’m totally ordering a Diva Cup * (amazon affiliate link) because I’ve heard great things. I’ll report back in the Joy Squad (a rad Facebook group full of awesome ladies – you can join here) on how it goes.
One final thing
The more research I do, the more I realize how big an impact hormones play on a woman’s overall health. Your reproductive health is hugely important even if (like me) you have no plans for kiddos.
Not only that, but even in a perfectly healthy woman, your hormones will naturally fluctuate throughout the month due to your cycle. Rather than fight against them, we could be optimizing our schedules, diets and everything to work with our bodies.
I’m still a newb at all of this. I’m looking for experts to have on the podcast because honestly I want to keep having these conversations.
//end rant (for now)
I want this to be a conversation – I’d love to know your experience, advice, people you look up to anything in this arena – dish!