There is a stigma surrounding periods. We conceal our bleeding like it's a "dark secret". If there is a visible blood stain, we're immediately ashamed. AS IF monthly- aka REGULAR bleedings were unusual!
Think of it; the average woman has approximately 450 periods in her lifetime. Added up, this equates to around ten years of bleeding days. Ten years. About time we allow ourselves ten years of dignified, happy, proud bleeding!
"You have sovereignty over your body."
It is your body, made perfect just for you. You can't ask anyone to change while you're not changing yourself, right? Don't wait for "society" to give you permission to bleed in peace and without judgement. Instead, free yourself from the belief that there is shame in the function of your body. As with any changes, it starts with you!
It's time we start to use dignified language around our period.
You are in charge of your vocabulary. Use words that make you feel whole, blessed, and lucky. This may look different for different people. For example, you can say "I am on my moon cycle or period", or simply state "I am menstruating" or "I am bleeding".
The pre-period vocabulary is just as essential for a healthy period and is often the worst! No, you're not over-sensitive or PMS-y (a "syndrome", really!?!) You're just hyper-aware. What a gift! The emotions that you bottle up during the month are now right out for you to notice and make the changes needed. You may discover triggers and patterns requiring attention or are made clear the things in your life to let go of. Let it go, along with your monthly flow. Another game changing behaviour: If you don’t feel like seeing people, cancel your plan, find someone to take your shift and honour the request your body is making! It’s time to go within.
Working with your period is MUCH, much easier than working against it.
"Bleach doesn't belong inside our bodies"
Tampon and sanitary pad manufacturers aren't required to disclose ingredients. Most contain plastic, and we now know about the hazardous nature of plastic chemicals. The ultra-white tampons or pads are bleached using chlorine, which can create toxic dioxin and other disinfection by-products (DBPs) such as trihalomethane.
Tampons create a favourable environment for bacteria growth. Micro-tears in the vaginal wall from tampons allows bacteria to accumulate. The infamous Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) is one of them.
Sustainable Bleeding. Period.
Every single disposable tampon or pad that has ever been used has yet to decompose. Conventional sanitary pads can contain the equivalent of about four plastic bags! No one alive today will ever witness a total decomposition of these products. In North America alone, 20 billion disposable menstrual products are thrown out each year!
I think for me the meaning has changed dramatically over the years. At first it meant that I was fertile. At first that was a scary thought, since I had heard stories of girls getting pregnant even if they were on the pill! For the first 17 years of having my period, it was really no problem. Light, didn’t last long, no cramps. I enjoyed being pregnant for many reasons, but one of the main reasons was that I was on vacation from my period, lol. Then after having kids, especially after my 2nd child, everything changed. They became heavy, and lasted a lot longer (what used to be a couple days, now turned into 6. It was shortly after that, when I discovered menstrual cup's and reusable pads/liners.
This was a game changer for me! I could now go to the gym or yoga and be completely comfortable. I could hop into the shower after hot yoga without having to change my tampon. I could leave my Cup in for almost 12 hours! This meant I could empty it at home, and not have to worry about using a public washroom. Plus, I couldn’t believe how much garbage I used to produce, when I was using disposable tampons and pads/liners. Now, there is no waste. Going on vacation means I don’t have to bring a box of tampons, pads and liners. I just grab my Cup and some reusable pads and I’m good to go!
I share all this information with the women in my life. It’s amazing how many people either don’t know about menstrual cups, or are scared to use them. Yes, it’s different than a tampon, but for the better! You will feel better, be more comfortable and produce less waste. Be patient, it might take a bit of time to get it just right, but once you do, you will never go back to disposables.
Fast forward a few years...when my daughter was close the age I was when I first started menstruating, I bought a little “to go” pack. It was a cloth pouch that contained reusable pads and liners. She kept it in her backpack so she could feel prepared for when that day came. It’s discreet and would get transferred into her travel bag or overnight bag for sleepovers and travelling. Fast forward another couple years, and I bought her her own Cup. She was a pro at using it from the start! Yes, even a 15 year old can use it and succeed.
It takes a few years before girls are comfortable with talking openly about their periods. But one thing is for sure: I made sure to talk about it early on to my daughter (age 9), just in case it happened early. I got diagrams from the internet to help with explaining what is happening. I made myself available to ask questions and talk openly from the start. I didn’t have that as a kid. I felt scared to talk to my mom about my period. (Stupid, I know!) I didn’t want my daughter to feel that way.
This is a natural body function, and we all learn more when we can talk openly about it.