Can you remember your first period? To say I remember every aspect of my first period is an understatement. I was young, approximately 8 years old when my first period arrived. I can remember everything from the smell of the toilets to the colour of the underwear I had on. But most of all I remember the fear and embarrassment. I had no idea what was happening to me, and being only right years old, I didn’t know who to turn to.
Now, over twenty years later, I’d like to say I’ve gotten the hang of this menstruation thing. But there is still so much I’m learning from both myself, and others, that it got me thinking about all the things I wish I had known before my first period.
10 Things I wish I knew before my first period.
Everything is going to hurt.
From your uterus to your vulva, everything will hurt. It’s perfectly normal to feel a numbing sensation, abdominal cramps, pain around your cervix, and even bum cramps. Weird, yes, but normal. For back and stomach cramps, I highly recommend using a hot water bottle or heat pad. If you can get an extra-long one, like those supplied by WUKA, it will be your saving grace!
Here are some ways you can cope with menstrual cramps!
BUT Cramps shouldn’t be unbearable.
“Normal” period cramps shouldn’t leave you feeling incapacitated. While most experience some level of pain, if cramps start to worsen, or efforts to relief have failed, you should speak with your GP. Severe menstrual cramps can be caused by various conditions. These include but are not limited to endometriosis, fibroids, and even some untreated STIs.
People don’t like to talk about periods, but should!
Especially those of us in the UK and Ireland. While on vacation lately, I was so surprised to see an entire else dedicated to menstrual products in a Spanish supermarket. Not only was there every sort of sanitary towel you could think of. But there were period pants, reusable pads, and even ‘diva‘ cups! Three was no such thing as shying away from the subject.
Here in the UK and Ireland, you’re lucky if you find one pokey section in the local chemist. It’s not very colourful or attractive, it’s usually shoved on the end of an aisle or in a corner. Any reusable menstrual products I own have been purchased online, but I would love period underwear to become a more accessible thing. It should be as simple as buying a pair of pants!
Your hormones and emotions will be up-the-left!
It doesn’t matter who you speak to, if they experience a period, they experience a surge in hormones. From mood swings to bloating, we certainly get the short end of the stick when it comes to our reproductive system.
I personally experience extreme lows when it comes to my mental health. And, the worst thing? It comes completely out of nowhere! I might not even be due for another week, but I’ll wake up like an entirely different person. Some might say it’s due to PMDD, others call it PMS. No matter what it is, it’s horrible.
But once my period makes an appearance, it’s usually followed by an ‘oh, that explains a lot.‘
There are reusable, eco-friendly alternatives.
There’s nothing I love more than my WUKA period pants! They opened my eyes to a whole new world of menstrual products and I just love their aesthetic. But when I was growing up there were just two options of period wear: Sanitary towels & MASSIVE sanitary towels. The kind that made you feel like you were wearing an adult nappy. Tampons weren’t even talked about in my house, despite them having existed since 1931!
There are so many reusable and safe options available now that it’s hard to choose! That’s why I encourage anyone, young or a little older, to shop around. I’m personally not a fan of insertable, purely because I’m not used to them. But I do make an effort to use either WUKA pants or another form of washable sanitary towel to cut down on waste! And the money you save is just an added bonus.
Check out this post for a full review of WUKA’s period underwear!
Yes, you CAN swim on your period!
That’s right, you read that correctly! You can 100%, no bullsh*t swim on your period! For many, the main concern is leaving behind a trail of blood. But, as long as you wear a tampon or a menstrual cup, you’re good to go.
You can also swim without any protection if you choose to. Water flow can temporarily stop the flow of your period so that it becomes lighter. This doesn’t mean your period has ended, simply that it’s taking a little break!
Good news for swimmers, bad news for sharks. Sorry boys.
Periods are messy, surprising (never in the good way), and continue to throw me curves balls. Yes, even twenty odd years later. You will leak onto your bed sheets, all underwear will eventually become ‘period underwear’, and wearing white is NEVER a good idea.
The truth is that each month the average person losses approximately three to six tablespoons of blood over an average five day period. It’s not that much in the grand scheme of things, but it certainly feels like gallons at the time. And, the best part? Not all of that loss is liquid. There’s some muscus, membrane and uterine tissue in there too.
Sometimes it’s normal to have an irregular period.
Sometimes my period arrives early. Other times it’s here when it said it would be. But, more often than not, it’s late by anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. The truth is that those who have a period every 28 days on the button are a rare breed. Every person is different, and so is there flow! And if you’ve jus started your period then you can expect a few months of surprises until it gradually begins to work itself out (somewhat).
What happens between each period is anyones game. Some people experience spotting, others have cramps, and almost everyone has hormonal spikes as mentioned above!
*Please note in some cases irriegular periods aren’t a good shout. They can mean deeper, more troubling issues. Please pay attention to your period and your ‘normal.’ If something feels off, please seek medical advice.
Everyone experiences digestive upset.
Periods poops are a real thing! Between diarrheoa, constipation & just feeling down right ‘shitty‘, you can expect some sort of digestive upset. The digestive tract and the uterus are so close together, that it would be impossible for one not to impact the other!
Syncing is a real thing!
Have you ever heard about syncing up? If you work or live in close proximiety to others who experience periods, then it’slikely you’ll sync up cycles. This is also known as ‘menstrual synchrony‘ and is based on the theory that our pheromones influence each other.
Some might say it’s a myth, other’s say it’s inevitable because of how our periods work. I personally believe that everyone who bleeds regularly is secretly influenced by the moon cycles. We’re all werewolves at heart!