Why are periods uncomfortable convo fodder? Periods are one of those things where discussion is a gamble. Some people are completely grossed out by the subject matter and while guys make up most of that audience, even some women are afraid to go into detail on the topic; but, why?
It doesn’t appear to be a cultural divide; it seems to be more of a learning disadvantage. In other words, most of us are never truly taught about periods. They don’t teach it in school extensively and it’s usually not on the high priority list of pep-talks when it comes to raising children- but it should be.
We need to normalize period talk to grow the support system among women and periods and I’ve got a few ideas on how we can change the way society views and talks about periods.
Stop acting like periods are gross.
Sure, blood secreting from your vaginal walls teamed up with uncomfortable bloating isn’t the most pleasant thing but it’s completely normal and all women experience it throughout their lives. Without periods, reproduction of human life literally could not exist. We need to start looking at periods as the beautiful thing that signifies we can create life instead of the red stream of doom, gloom and shame.
Talk to your children in advance about their body changes.
If you have a young daughter or son, make sure you’re open and candid about bodily changes. If they asks what a tampon is, tell them the truth instead of leading them to believe it’s a candy wrapper. Recently, a video of a young girl doing a makeup tutorial went viral because she stuck a maxi pad to her forehead thinking it was part of a normal beauty routine. If only her mother explained to her what they were actually used for, perhaps she wouldn’t be now known as the girl who stuck a maxi pad to her forehead for the entire internet to see.
Correct rude remarks made during discussion.
Women are no strangers to people, namely men, cringing and making rude remarks when we bring up our periods. People will snap a picture of a girl whose experienced unfortunate leakage and post it online to shame periods even further- it’s actually not amusing and it’s ignorant as fuck. We need to stop these shame tactics in their tracks and start looking people in the eye and asking them what the problem is. Catch people off guard. Find out why they think human nature is so wildly amusing and gross. My bet is that they’ll feel moronic sooner than you think- because they are.
Talk about it like any other health matter.
If you broke your leg, you would talk about it like normal. You’d tell the story of how it happened, let people sign your cast, and make arrangements to live your life modified for a bit like a normal human being would. If you have the flu, you’re open about the fact that you’re under the weather, but we seem to struggle with normalizing the legitimate health challenge of making it through a period. This is especially true in the workplace since apparently calling in sick because your cramps are unbearable is frowned upon, even though it’s the truth. We don’t want to come across crippled by our periods and we always want to put on that strong, brave and silent front. The truth is some women actually do struggle terribly with pain and heavy bleeding at that time of the month and it’s nothing to be ashamed about or shamed for. We need to be able to be more honest and open about what’s happening before we can begin to change the tone of the conversation.
Share experiences and support those who have challenges with their periods.
The best way to normalize any subject matter is to keep talking about it. Keep the conversation open. Talk to your girlfriends about it. Discuss your struggles and coping mechanisms. Be open with your colleagues about it if it’s affecting your ability to work and be honest with your family and spouse and don’t feel guilty about it. More importantly, support anyone who shares their struggle or personal concerns with you. If we want to normalize period talk, we need to be unafraid of hearing and speaking about it.
Treat periods like any other normal topic- because it is normal.
It’s time we put the cliché responses and taboo manner about periods to rest. It’s not gross or a big secret that women have periods, it’s a simple fact of life and there’s nothing wrong with talking about it.
I got my period at the tender age of 11. I was simply trying to live my best life when a crimson bolt of lightning hit me out of nowhere; blood in my underwear. It had finally happened. I still remember the day very well, and being afraid to tell my mother that I was seemingly broken. I was never really given the pep talk about periods. The only reason I knew I would eventually get one is because some of the girls my age at school were beginning to get theirs. No one sat me down and told me about my reproductive organs, all I knew was that it was coming and it meant I was going to start to grow boobs. That was the extent of my knowledge. As I told my mother what had happened, a look of momentary shock swept across her face followed by a quick disappearing act from my bedroom and her return with what would be my first maxi pads. Here I am today, 21 years later with approximately 250 periods under my belt and I literally write about periods, but period talk still isn’t completely normalized. It’s time to change that.