Let’s talk periods.
I’m SO bored of seeing adverts on TV for sanitary towels or tampons where women are galloping around with short white skirts on, having the time of their lives whilst on their period. Don’t get me wrong…I’m sure there are some goddesses out there who manage it but seriously, WTF. When I have my period the last thing I want to do is be moving around with any vigour plus wearing something that could easily show up period stains is a HUGE no no in my book.
I mean, maybe I just fail badly at periods as I’ve touched on before, but really? REALLY?
I wanted to share with you some of my period fails with you today so that you can feel less alone when you may experience a slight period malfunction. Perhaps these stories are TMI and perhaps they’re not but what they are is REAL. They’re things that happened to me, that I had to style out awkwardly and they still haunt me today because learning about periods is not the same as learning about YOUR periods. Until your body gets into the swing of things you will SO not be prepared and I found that out the hard way…
I can still vaguely remember when I first got my period. I was a weird teenager who was desperately hoping my period would arrive. I was so jealous of all the girls around me who were proudly whispering about tampons and I felt so immature and unwomanly compared to them. LOL I TAKE IT BACK I DON’T NEED PERIODS AT ALL. It was after school and I was part of the trampoline club which met once a week to bounce around for the fun of it. I went to the toilet just before the club started and saw a small spot of blood in my pants. I panicked straight away wondering what it was before thinking ‘OH MY GOD, IS THIS MY PERIOD?! YAY YAY YAY!’ I stuffed some toilet roll in my pants and told one of my friends that I thought my period had started. Luckily she had a spare 50p or £1(I can’t remember which) to shove into the slot of the sanitary towel dispenser hanging on the toilet wall and that was my first ever experience of sanitary towels…that first time I put one on it felt like a nappy and I was CONVINCED that everyone would know I was wearing it.
I got home that evening from the trampoline club and for some reason, even though my mum was really open and honest about everything from periods to sex, I was too scared to tell her. So I text her instead (lol) and said ‘I think my period has started.’ She came upstairs to my bedroom and smiled and we had a chat and that was my womanliness activated.
However it wasn’t plain sailing from there. I had very heavy periods; I think this was mainly due to my genes…my mum told me her periods were very heavy so I guess that might be why?! I do remember going to the doctor about them at one point but he didn’t seem worried so I guess that was a good thing…! But I wasn’t really prepared for HOW heavy they would be.
The most mortifying and probably TMI experience with my period was in a music lesson at school. I was wearing a pink Bodyform sanitary towel which is sort of the low-medium absorption and at the time I thought this was plenty sufficient to keep my flow in check. OH GURL. I remember throughout the lesson feeling like my pants were soaking wet and really, really heavy. Almost like there was a wet flannel resting in my pants. I thought nothing of it…I’d only really just started having periods so I assumed that was what it was meant to feel like. Oh how wrong my poor young self was.
By the end of the lesson I knew something had gone catastrophically wrong. I could smell my own period; I could feel wetness between my thighs. Something was very very wrong. I stood up at the end of the lesson and holy hell, the chair was a STATE. I had pretty much leaked all over the chair. So I rapidly sat back down and panicked thinking what the fuck am I supposed to do?! I waited until everyone else was walking out of the door before I stood up and made a quick run for the door. The music teacher did say ‘Is everything alright Laura?’ at which point I should have said ‘I’M SO SORRY I JUST HAD A PERIOD ALL OVER ONE OF YOUR CHAIRS.’ But instead I ran to the toilet and assessed the damage in my pants. Oh wow, it was literally like an explosion. I’d never seen anything like it before and I was so embarrassed. Bearing in mind at this point my whole class were already on the way to our history lesson in the other building. I was sitting in a toilet cubicle pressing toilet paper into my trousers to soak up all the rogue blood. I wasn’t brave enough to go to the school office and ask a woman to HELP ME SORT MY PERIOD OUT because I thought they’d laugh me out of there. So I did the best I could. I stuck a new sanitary towel to my bloody pants and hot footed it to my next lesson where I spent the entire time sat on my blazer so as not to get the chair covered in my period. Luckily it was the last lesson before the end of the day so as soon as the bell rang I flung my bag over my shoulder and lengthened the strap so that it was long enough to cover my bum and speedily walked home to deal with the disaster that had happened.
Oh god, I cringe so much when I think about just running away from that chair but I just couldn’t face telling someone that I couldn’t period.
To be fair, most of my other embarrassing period stories revolve around chairs at school and a far too low absorbency sanitary towel. There was one time when I was in a biology lesson at the end of the day and I REALLY needed to change my pad but I knew that if I stood up then people would see me leaking so instead I waited until the end of the lesson, thinking I could surreptitiously just quickly wipe any leak on the chair up with a tissue. So when the end of the lesson came and we had to stack our lab stools up I panicked thinking OH GOD PEOPLE WILL SEE WHAT I’VE DONE. I quickly jumped up, just as one of the girls in my class looked down at my chair and saw my small leak. I gave her a pleading look to pretend nothing had happened and quickly stacked my stool underneath another one so no one would know it was me. OH THE SHAME.
I wasn’t ready to start using tampons at this point. I’d never had sex, nothing had ever been IN my vagina before so I wasn’t ready to stick something up there…and even now I much prefer using sanitary towels. (Although if I’m out/working/not lazing around the house I tend to use tampons for the fact they’re less likely to leave me with a massively stained crotch. YAY FOR TAMPONS)
It took me a good few years until I really got into the swing of my own body and learned how to cope with my periods. For the past few years I’ve been on and off contraception so I haven’t really had a proper period in a long time. Which sort of sucks because even though I hate periods, there’s a small part of me that loves the feeling of awesome womanliness that surrounds me when I’m on my period. Just me?
Also, over the years I’ve managed to create the best period survival kit that I carry around with me ALL THE TIME just in case. It's a large pencil case/make up bag that I put the following things into:
- - Six tampons: two regular, two super, two super- duper- fuck-me-you-have-a-heavy-period
- - Four towels: one regular with wings, two super plus with wings, one night time mega huge towel
- - A handful of nappy sacks (perfect for when you’re in a bathroom with no sanitary bin)
- - A spare pair of pants just in case things get SERIOUSLY bad down there
- - A few pantyliners
- - And some tissues just in case the toilet you’re using doesn’t have any
Ever since creating my little period kit I never ever ended up having a panic moment where I thought OH GOD MY PERIOD HAS STARTED AND I HAVE NOTHING ON ME. Every single bag I owned had a few towels and tampons stashed into the zip pocket at the back. And every time I went to school or went out, I would put the period bag into my bag so it was always there…just in case. Plus it was always handy when someone was in a panic and needed to borrow a tampon or pad…I had plenty to go around! Plus it didn’t look embarrassing or obvious in my bag…it just looked like a make up bag or pencil case...
Coming full circle, as I mentioned about the adverts, I just want to say that periods don’t have to look like that. Periods can be messy and unpredictable and a bit scary. But that’s OK. We shouldn’t be ashamed to talk about that side of periods. Sure, some women have super light periods and don’t have to worry about white trousers or getting a leakage. But some of us women do and that’s FINE. It’s normal. It’s life. I bet every woman has at least one embarrassing period story to tell. So if you find yourself having a slight problem with your next period YOU ARE NOT ALONE. And if you’ve only just started your periods or are yet to start them…don’t worry. No woman got it right straight away. It’s all about learning how your own body works and going with the flow (lol, soz.)
(Also, don’t be ashamed to talk about periods. It’s just another fucking amazing thing that your body does.)
P.S ALL THE AMAZING ARTWORK IN THIS POST IS BY GEMMA CORRELL. She is a legend.