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, Lizzie, a 30-year-old patient care advocate from Texas, shares what access to period care was like while struggling financially—and why she's loyal to a menstrual cup.
How many days does your period usually last? 5
How heavy is your flow (1 to 5)? 3 (medium)
How regular is your period (1 to 5): 4 (regular)
Symptoms: Cramps, Back Pain (I suffered from a lower back injury almost a decade ago and I swear every month during my period there's pain in that exact spot where I was hit)
Preferred Period Care: Tampons, Cup
Birth Control: N/A
What was sex education like in your household and schools?
I went to a super small school. We got separated into classrooms in the 5th grade and I didn't retain much information besides a teacher telling us, "You are peeing blood." Ironically, our school had one of the highest pregnancy rates before I graduated. Sex education was non-existent in my household. All of my sex education came from researching on my own.
How comfortable are you with buying period care products in public?
I want to say I'm super comfortable now because I don't hesitate to grab that giant box of tampons for those savings, but I also want to throw it out there that I would probably feel different if I still lived in that small town where I could run into more people I know.
How easy is it for you to access period care and contraceptive products where you live?
At this point in my life, it's easy. Using a cup means I never run out of tampons or pads, and I can have them delivered to my door if needed. I feel really lucky now because there have been times in my life where I slept in my car and really struggled financially. I would put off buying tampons until I had to and I would get whatever was on sale … which is usually the dreaded cardboard applicators. During this time, I was never on birth control either. Not only was I scared of birth control, because I didn't know a lot about it, I didn't know that most insurances cover the costs. I just assumed it was another expense I couldn't afford.
6:30 a.m. — I wake up to that familiar lower back pain in that same spot I got a back injury.
7 a.m. — I get ready for work, notice my skin is oily, and I've gotten a new pimple. My hair is also oily, even though I just washed it. So, I jump in the shower before work.
9 a.m. — I contemplate abandoning all my planned meals and daydream about Taco Bell for lunch already.
12 p.m. — My Taco Bell arrives.
2 p.m. — Minor inconveniences at work make me contemplate abandoning my job and going off the grid.
2:15 p.m. — I remember that I don't have infinite resources, and Taco Bell is ON the grid.
3 p.m. — My emotions are all over the place, and I don't feel like myself.
3:30 p.m. — I go to the bathroom, figure out I just started my period, and accept that my rollercoaster of emotions ends in 4-5 days so I can put a pause on the midday crisis.
7:15 a.m. — After hitting snooze multiple times, I get out of bed feeling achy and rush to get ready moments before needing to clock in.
9 a.m. — Emotions feel high, but more manageable today, knowing what is causing it.
4 p.m. — I clock out, walk my dog, and initiate couch potato mode for the rest of the night.
7 a.m. — I roll out of bed, knowing this is the WORST day. Emotions are more balanced, but this is the heaviest flow day and it's annoying.
12 p.m. — I'm craving carbs.
2 p.m. — Stress levels are high.
4 p.m. — Clock out, walk my dog, shower, and take some pain relievers.
7 a.m. — I wake up, and my energy levels are higher. My flow isn't as heavy, and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
11 a.m. — I get more work done than I've done all week.
4 p.m. — Clock out, walk my dog, and resume couch potato mode.
6:30 a.m. — I wake up feeling like myself again. This day is my lightest flow. I shower and get ready for work.
12 p.m. — I clock out for lunch and make a quick grocery list.
4 p.m. — I go to the laundromat to wash all the clothes that have been stacking up during the week, along with my sheets and blankets.
5:30 p.m. — I pick up my groceries on the way home from the laundromat.
7 p.m. — I get home, shower, and climb into my bed with fresh blankets and sleep, knowing that, at this moment, I'm the furthest away from having to do this all over again next month.