A New Way To Think About Your Period (3 minute read)

I get periods. I menstruate; I bleed every month for several days on end. 

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I’ve been doing this for the last 20 years (minus 9 months + the breastfeeding effect lasting about 4 months). When that time comes, I get a little on edge. I have a love-hate relationship with my period. I love getting them because then I know the end is here and I will soon get to experience the blissful days of my cycle (at least until next month). 

I hate getting them because cramps, headaches, belly bloat and sluggishness suck. The hormonal cycle of emotions is the worst part to manage. Basically, it’s something I dread and look forward to every month. 

Whether you get them or not, a period is a necessary process for our species to continue and so it’s kind of a big deal. 

When I first got my period, I was actually pretty excited because both of my sisters had joined the club already. Always wanting to catch up to them is a running theme in my childhood. 

So this was like the third time my mom’s had to have this conversation. She shows me a pad, opens it up and points to where I should stick it on my underwear, closes it up and puts it back together so that it’s not wasted.

Four women in the house X 12 periods a year = $$$$ on feminine hygiene product expenses
I'd like to consider myself as having an above average understanding of female anatomy. Aside from being a woman, I've got a background in health sciences (no I’m not a doctor, that’s someone else in the family) and so I know a fair bit about menstruation and the peaks and valleys of hormones and the physiological processes that occur. 

With all the knowledge that I regurgitated in exams about this, I never connected the dots between how I was feeling (specifically, the shittier times) and the phase I was in. It’s interesting to note that that disconnect also happened when I was postpartum (another post, another time).

So when I wanted to get pregnant, I did the most millennial thing and downloaded one of those ovulation apps so I could track my cycle. Literally, every time around 4 or 5 days before my period, I would pick a fight with my husband. 

I mean these fights would be based on some trivial thing I would have totally brushed off on all the other days. But I’d make a big deal out of it, like a massive deal. I'd get irritated and sensitive more easily. Then after the fight, I'd feel confused as to why I was so angry at him and I'd get mad at myself for being so melodramatic about stupid shit. 

Blargh I'm supposed to be the levelled headed one in the relationship. I'd question my sanity and feel guilty for having started a fight with him.

Here’s an example that happened recently: 

We order sushi takeout and we’re eating at our dining table. My husband has an empty pack of soy sauce in one of his hands and the other is pointing at the takeout bag. He proceeds to ask me, “That garbage in there?” 

I hadn't emptied the takeout bag (it was full of unopened soy sauce packets and wooden chopsticks that I like to keep for cooking (ahem, hoarding) purposes). I snap at him, “NO IT’S NOT! I haven't done that yet. There's still stuff in there okay? I'm going to do it. I just haven't done it yet. I will empty it now okay?” 

Huffing and puffing while I empty the damn bag on the floor. In my head, I knew exactly why I was annoyed with his question. It’s like I was already thinking about emptying it to create a garbage bag and was annoyed at myself that I hadn’t done it yet. 

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Now for him to ask me about it, he’s reminding me of the frustration that I had with myself, something he had no clue I was even thinking about.     

Anyway, I started tracking these and it's like a light bulb went off in my head.  

First, I talked to him about my aha moment.  

Next, I offered to share my ovulation app data so he’s aware of where I’m at in my cycle (he declined; he preferred verbal notifications).  

Lastly, I vowed to become more in tune with my body during those days, to give myself a break every time I got a little irrational and to do more thinking out loud rather than internalizing my frustrations.

A friend of mine told me about seed cycling and I’m planning to try it soon (once I get over the procrastination hump of buying the seeds and setting up the process).  Maybe it’ll help or maybe it’s a placebo.  Either way, seeds are good to me (just like the earth...cue Johnny Appleseed).

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When that time comes for my daughter, I’ll still close up and put back a perfectly good pad (my mother’s frugality is ingrained in my DNA) but I’m hoping the conversation will remain an open one.

So Readers, how do you get through the ups and downs of a menstrual cycle? Gentlemen, how comfortable are you talking about periods?

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