I have always dreaded my period from that memorable moment in middle school that started the seemingly-endless journey to adulthood. There are not many women I know that look forward to their periods, including me, because each month our regular routine encounters a disruption. Our bodies undergo hormonal changes that trigger headaches, cramps, fatigue, bloating, and various other symptoms that make daily life seem just a little bit harder. Not only are the physical symptoms uncomfortable, though, but so is the social stigma that surrounds a woman’s menstrual cycle.
From a young age, I remember avoiding the taboo topic of periods that seemed to make my peers uneasy. When my period first started, I couldn’t find the courage to tell any of my friends and when I didn’t feel well, I opted not to say anything. When I forgot a tampon at school, the silent search began so that I could hopefully smuggle supplies into the bathroom before something worse happened, like bleeding through my pants—the secret horror that all women share. But even though periods, the symptoms, and the experiences that accompany them range from embarrassing, awkward, to everything in between, creating an unrestricted conversation about menstrual cycles benefits everyone involved.
Speaking freely about our menstruation begins to normalize a natural cycle in a woman’s life. These discussions open a larger dialogue about the importance of visiting an OBGYN regularly and using safe period supply alternatives, like reusable menstrual cups or period panties. But most importantly through this, we will be able to confront the complications that many women face, from irregular flows, to endometriosis, to ovarian cysts—all common, and often scary diagnoses that we receive.
Only then can we begin to educate our daughters, nieces, friends, students, and the younger generation as a whole about safe and healthy period practices. Only then can we teach them that everyone experiences puberty differently, and that is okay. Our FIT expert, Rachel Daggett, couldn’t have said it any better, “Everybody and every body has different timing.”
As women, we all face the reality of our menstruation month after month, so let’s take the step toward letting others know that they are not alone in their pains, irregularities, complications, and embarrassments. You are not alone in your journey, so learn to love your flow.