Welcome to Period Diaries, a series in which we ask real people how they eat, sleep, and live on their cycle in an effort to end the stigma around menstruation. Period.
In this edition, a 26-year-old patient care trainer from Texas recalls how her first period prompted a family meeting, and opens up about her “trust issues” with her uterus.
How many days does your period usually last? 7 days
How heavy is your flow (1 to 5)? 4 (heavy)
How regular is your period (1 to 5): 5 (regular)
Symptoms: Bloating, irritability, cramps,
Preferred Period Care: Tampons, pads, panty liners
Birth Control: Blisovi Fe 1.5/30, CHC pill
Are you able to predict when your period is about to start? If so, how?
Before I started the pill, I was using the natural method, and over the course of 18 years, I was able to be in tune with my body. I started my PMS symptoms a week before I actually started my period and usually the day of—I would cry over a minor inconvenience, and, later that day, I would start bleeding. It happened almost every month without a beat.
Now, since being on the pill, it’s predictable, but not really. I skip my periods and when I take the active pills. I don’t have any PMS symptoms or periods for three months at a time. When I do let my body have a period, I’ve learned that it takes four days of taking the sugar pills to actually bleed.
At what age did you start your period? What do you remember about your first time?
I was 11 years old when I first got my period. I remember I had just come back from a family’s swim party and I used the bathroom to pee. I pulled down my swim bottoms and saw brown discharge. I screamed “MOM!!!!!!!!!!!” and she came right in to see what was up. She said, “Sweetie, you started your period” in front of my dad and little brother. I guess my scream was concerning enough to bring in the entire family for an impromptu family meeting.
How comfortable are you with buying period care products in public?
I am very comfortable with buying period care products in public. I am not ashamed I bleed. It’s natural and in a way it empowers me. It’s a natural process just like going number 1 and number 2. No one is ashamed of buying toilet paper. We even hoarded it when the pandemic started. I haven’t forgotten about that.
The first thing I do when I see spotting in the morning is mark the start of my period on my app. I use Flo and have been for many years. I start my routine of checking if I bled anywhere and put in a tampon and panty liner for extra protection. I change my tampon when needed and go on about my day, pissed mother nature made her appearance again.
Usually, on day two, my flow is heavy, my cramps are painful as heck, and my bloating makes me look like I have a food baby without the food. I tough it out like the queen I am until I can’t. I go to my workout class to help me forget about my painful cramps, which usually does the trick until the natural endorphins run out. Once that happens, I pop my trusty Tylenol and go on about my day pain-free, for the most part. I indulge in whatever junk food I crave that day because why not, I’m on my period.
Same as day two, I start my day with an hour workout and hope the natural endorphins help. When they don’t, once again, I pop a Tylenol. I hope to god I’m not ruining any vital organs because of how many Tylenols I take. Again, I treat myself to whatever cravings I have that day for motivation to keep going on for the week.
I start to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but, usually, my body likes to play mind games with me on day four. My uterus likes to play tricks on me and it’s taken me a long time to figure her out. I start the day with a light period; it’s more like spotting or looks like I am finished with my period. By the end of the day, I start to bleed again—this time lighter than day two and three but, again, bleeding. I am not free from the shackles of my uterus. Yet.
The chaos starts to dwindle down, but I’m still angry at the fact I have at least two more days of misery to suffer through. It’s not like my bloating or painful cramps just disappear. They are still there, just not screaming in my face. I can usually tough it out, and, this time, the endorphins from my workout do help for a while.
Same as day five, except I know by day seven that I will be completely finished. I have trust issues with my uterus so I give her a 24-hour turnaround time before I can live my life freely again.
The wait is over. I am completely done with my period, and I am READY to live my life again. At the end of the week, I am thankful for my period because it lets me know I’m not with child. Although that was never an issue, it’s just nice to have that confirmation and carry on like it never happened until next time.