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The term ‘period positivity’ might seem like a bit of an oxymoron. I mean, what is there to celebrate about a period? I think that any woman experiencing them can likely give you a long list of reasons why they do not fall under the heading of being ‘positive’. But this movement is about more than just finding appreciation for your monthly cycle. It is also about eliminating the stigma surrounding period and creating a space where women can openly talk about their menstruation.
Being open to period talk will not only give you the chance to vent with your friends when you’re in the throes of cramps and PMS, it could also help women to lead healthier lives. Talking about the struggles of menstruation will help to open the doors to talking about how feminine hygiene products are still taxed in most of the world as a ‘luxury item’ and completely not accessible to millions of women.
So, how much do you really know about your period? While most of us are taught the basics, you might not know what is really occurring in your body and what is considered normal. We recommend starting your period crusade by taking our period quiz. It will give you an overview of what it really means to experience ‘Shark Week’.
There is no such thing as normal! Every person who has a period is a unique individual with their own experiences and all human bodies work in different and sometimes mysterious ways. As a result, it is essential that you pay attention to what is normal for you.
Blood Flow: On average, women lose around 2 tablespoons of blood a month and the rest is a mixture of fluids such as cervical mucus and endometrial lining. If you experience bleeding that is much heavier, this could be a sign that something is wrong; especially if you are changing a super pad or tampon more than every two hours. Speak to your doctor who can investigate the matter further.
Cycle: A monthly cycle can be anything between 21-38 days, with the average being 28 days. Tracking your period can be a great way to figure out what is normal for you, and there are so many free tracker apps available.
Pain: Over 80% of women experience period pains at some point in their lives, with 40% having pains so severe that they have had to take time off work. Period pains are caused by the contractions of the muscles around the uterus, and they are an unfortunate side effect of the female reproductive system. Heat pads or hot water bottles can be particularly effective at reducing cramps, as can having an orgasm, doing light exercise, or taking pain medication. However, if you have excessive period pain that affects your quality of life, this can indicate something is wrong.
Clots: Passing some blood clots is normal, and this can be a recurrent experience for many people. However, if you are passing clots that are larger or painful, speak to a doctor and seek medical advice.
PMS: Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) or Premenstrual Tensions (PMT) both refer to the effects of menstruation on our moods. We may experience increased irritability, low moods, increased fatigue and feeling bloated, amongst other things. Although this is relatively normal, if such symptoms are severe, you should speak to a doctor. Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) affects up to 5% of women and is associated with extreme bouts of depression and anxiety before and during your period, potentially including suicidal ideation.
Making menstruation mainstream, period positivity is a new way of looking at menstruation. For too long, ‘women’s problems’ have been dismissed, judged, and commented on and this is a movement that aims to normalize the conversation surrounding periods. It is also an inclusive approach that supports sustainability by promoting the use of reusable sanitary products.
Whilst that is all well and good, it is important to remember you cannot speak for other people’s experiences. For a significant proportion of the population, long term and chronic conditions such as PCOS and Endo can make periods unbearable. It needs to be accepted that sometimes it can be hard to be positive when you are feeling like death. The main message is doing what works for you. You are fully entitled to curl up with a cheesy movie and a family-sized bar of chocolate if that is what makes you feel better.Get the conversation started and spread the message of period positivity. Share your quiz results and encourage others to find out more about the process of menstruation (even the men in your life!) Jump start conversations with our Anything You Can Do Tee, all about spreading period positivity.
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Every two weeks we’d drive into town. We’d shop for food, pick up tractor parts, animal feed, eat a greasy burger, then in the early evening go to the “Zoo” and have two gin and tonics. One time, Rennie didn’t come. She was sick. I didn’t think anything of going alone with Peter, someone I worked with every day, my employer, someone who was married. Halfway back to town, Peter pulled the big old Cadillac onto the shoulder and turned off the engine. There were no other cars. There was a moment of silence and darkness. We were 10 miles from town and 10 miles from the house. An unease bloomed in me like ink in water. He slipped across the long bench seat toward me.
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