We all know what I’m talking about here. The lesson you get at school that’s meant to introduce the concept of menstruation to you. The one where all the people who look like they will one day possess the ability to menstruate are taken into another classroom and have it all explained to them. It generally happens a year or so before the proper puberty health lessons explain it fully to everyone, including those without vaginas. Today I’m proposing that it would save everyone a lot of time if they just told us the full, practical truth in the first place:
Period knickers exist and you will need a stash
We generally have a collection of “period knickers”. The specifics of this vary from person to person, but they are generally something comfortable and rather dark to minimise the look of staining. I myself use black boy shorts, but I know others who prefer heavily patterned granny panties.
If only I’d known this: If our mums had just bought a bundle when she bought our first bras we’d all save a lot of tears and angst and pretty frilly knickers being ruined out of sheer ignorance.
Panty liners are basically a farce, but…
In my meandering experience they are just a marketing gimmick to keep selling women sanitary products every day of the month. I mean each to their own if you like them, but if I was having enough discharge to warrant wearing one each day I’d see a doctor. However, they are good for those last days of hell when your period seems to drag on in drips but you don’t want to feel “periody”. They’re also good for the first day, if you’re not sure it actually is going to be the first day and you want a first line of defense downstairs without bringing out the big guns. It sounds weird, but sometimes you face a soul crushing defeat if you accidentally waste a tampon the day before you needed to. Think of all the tax you paid on that!
If only I’d known this: I’d have saved a lot of mental anguish about what to wear on that day where it should be over. You need to wear those fancy knickers for the sake of your own mental health but you know one little spot will forever destroy the joy those fancy knickers are currently bringing back to your previously blood-soaked life. It would be a waste to use an entire pad or tampon, but one little liner can shoulder that burden.
Light coloured trousers are fine if you prepare
No one wears light coloured trousers on the first few days of their period unless they are a serious bad ass bitch who does not give a single fuck. I’m not quite there. However, sometimes in the last few days you will NEED to wear that light coloured legwear for any assortment of reasons (ie, it’s your uniform / the trousers are new and need to be worn NOW / they’re the only thing you own that works with those shoes that you will die if you don’t wear to that night out etc).
Learn to double line. Wear a tampon and a pad simultaneously in super sturdy knickers. Let that menstrual fluid know that while it has the advantage of gravity, you’re running a high security prison downstairs and there’s no damned way it’s tunneling out even if it does have a Rita Hayworth poster on the walls (and frankly, what self respecting vagina doesn’t). Sod’s law says there won’t be any hint leakage, but this extra padding is mostly for sanity’s sake.
If only I’d known this: I wouldn’t have ventured out wearing my usual period paraphernalia, had a mild attack of paranoia as soon as I arrived at my destination and spent the whole day trying to catch reflections of my arse in shop windows. This is not what maketh a fun day.
You’re not a crazy, irrational bitch
Look, if you think you are having hormonal issues do go and see a health professional. But if you are just a regular human being dealing with the fact that your uterus feels like it’s trying to beat the living shit out of you from the inside, don’t get too paranoid about your decision making process.
You’re not suddenly some silly, irrational wreck, it’s just that your ability to deal with other people’s shit is suddenly negligible. Think about it, if you stopped and asked that man who was being chased around the park having his ankles nibbled by a small dog what the time is, he would be rather irate with his answer. Now, that wouldn’t seem fair to you, because you asked a perfectly reasonable question. However, he has bigger things on his mind than your inability to wear a watch.
Similarly, when some numpty comes at you with a barrage of stupidity, it may not be within your power to inwardly roll your eyes and and be the good little woman giving a sweet little answer.
If only I’d known this: I wouldn’t have apologised to so many douchebags for calling them out on being douchebags simply because I only became ballsy/irate enough to do it during my monthly cycle.
Sometimes you can feel the tampon
When they first tell you about tampons the whole concept of putting some foreign object inside your body and keeping it there seems very scary. They sell it to you by saying you can’t feel the tampon. Basically, you put it in and then you can’t feel it and you can just get on with life as if you’re not even having a period. You’ll forget about it and it will be just like your non-period days until you go to take it out. HA HA HA.
Look, mostly you can’t feel that little cotton wad. You’ll still have the crampy uterus feeling, but you won’t be terribly conscious of the tampon. However, sometimes if you stand up after you’ve been sitting for a while or vice versa it’s OH HAI YOU’RE IN MY VAGINA. Things move. Don’t try and use your fingers to maneuver it back into place, usually it’ll come right by itself.
If only I’d known this: I wouldn’t have wasted many hours questioning my tampon technique, worrying that I was very aware that I was menstruating and not forgetting that fact easily.
Always read the instructions
We all get a little cocky. Once you’ve been dealing with this bleeding business for 10+ years we think we know it all. Then we’re suddenly faced with a different pack of tampons. Maybe the store ran out of our usual type. Maybe we’re on holiday and had to make do with the local brand. Maybe you needed a friend to pick you up a pack as you had PERIOD SURPRISE PARTY and she just grabbed her usual brand. Read the damned instructions. Just read the instructions. This is no time for guess work.
If only I’d known this: I wouldn’t have raged my way through an entire box and had an awkward snappy situation with an applicator I was unfamiliar with. At the age of 25. FFS.
Can we please tell everyone this from the get go? Periods are annoying enough by themselves without this whole sadistic hazing ritual of ignorance we seem content to let the younger generation go through…