As women, we’re taught from the age of 10 that most of us will spend the next 40 years experiencing periods. In those same classes, we’re taught about the wonders of reproduction. Our bodies are a gift. Most women who have periods do so because their empty wombs are reminding them that they are fertile vessels, Goldilocks homes for perfect embryos. We are responsible for the continuation of our species. It is our innate calling.
So sit down, shut up and suck it up. Show a little gratitude for your pain. You’re selected as one of the Earth’s population who bleed – get used to it.
Being one amongst the menstruators, I sympathise with those who don’t experience period positivity to its fullest. To help, I’m sharing my top tips on bleeding better.
How to Have a Happy Period: A guide for making the best out of a blood situation
- Make a period playlist. Like the one Ashton Kutcher makes for Natalie Portman in No Strings Attached. You’re going to need this to power through the rest of the guide.
- Let’s discuss your language. Whilst I can write about periods, you need to make sure your language is adjusted according to your audience. Aside from a maximum of three close friends and your mother, do your best to limit your descriptions to “lady problems” or “that time of the month”. (See point no.16)
- We’re going to do some wardrobe reorganisation. Take all of your underwear out of your drawers and separate into “pants I like” and “pants I used to like but my uterus liked them more”.
- Let go of underwear favouritism. Accept that you’re probably going to be wearing your favourite underwear when your period surprises you. Buy two identical pairs so at least one stays stain-free, hopefully.
- Buy black underwear. Just wear black in general as much as possible. Damage limitation.
- Wear two pairs of pants. Double up for security once you’re in full flow. Keep a spare pair on you, always.
- Embrace black jeans. See above. Black is safe.
- Make sure you have a bag that is big enough. Keep a good supply of tampons, pads and paracetamol for friends, family, people you get acquainted with in public toilets, and for yourself.
- Use a menstrual cup for a more environmentally-conscious option. But if you have butter fingers, make sure you take extra care when you release the suction so as not to accidentally empty the cup onto your jeans/bath mat/public toilet floor).
- If you do use a menstrual cup, you still need to carry around period supplies for friends, family and total strangers.
- Have a bath. Light a candle and cradle your swollen stomach.
- Apparently bananas help. Potassium or something.
- Think comfy. Wear leggings, loose dresses, jogging bottoms or no clothes at all.
- Practise composure. Balance yourself against a wall if your cramps are particularly bad and you think you might end up doubling over. If someone throws a look of concern, smile and comment on the weather.
- Go to work and remind yourself that every other woman gets through her cycle without a sick day or a trip to A&E.
- When in a professional environment, limit all verbal acknowledgement to “I have a headache.”
- Cry. The release of chemicals is good for you (but not in public).
- Cry some more. You have a lot to cry about: you feel nauseous; your boobs hurt; your back aches; you’re so hungry but so bloated; there’s some sort of knife-yielding gremlin trying to break out of your abdomen; on top of all of that, you’re bleeding. Cry away.
- Watch The Notebook and keep on crying.
- Write in your gratitude journal about how amazing your body is because what’s happening to you is a miracle, even if it feels like you’re dying.
- Burn your gratitude journal.