Let's Talk About Our Periods

 Illustration by Lamae Nembhard

Illustration by Lamae Nembhard

We’ve all wished we weren’t female once our menstrual cycle begins. Advertisements for Tampax refer to our periods as “mother nature’s gift,” I think otherwise.

The first day of my period is always the worst of all. One day in the summer, some years ago, I experienced the first of many horrible “first day periods.” It got to be so bad that I vomited up the useless pain relievers I chugged down my throat and could not move an inch without constant stabbing pains in both my lower abdominals and back. On top of it all, it was the hottest day of that summer. It was absolutely terrible.

I’m sure we’ve all had days when period cramps are just unbearable; Advil Extra Strength won’t work, and every other pharmaceutical pain reliever seems to be made of sugar. Before I got my period, the experience was painted to me like it was the most magical thing a girl can have; it was the moment I would become a woman. I knew what a period was, but was never truly told about it as an experience. So when my period initially came, I wasn't bothered since they were pretty painless and my cycle was regular. I was blessed until about a year later when that all changed.

I woke up one day to the most excruciating pain I’ve ever felt in my life. I felt crippled; laying in my bed, writhing in pain. I'm not one to showcase that I'm in pain or cry in front of people, so I suffered in silence for a while until my mom came to check on me. She was immediately concerned. I explained what was happening and she understood because she too had experienced horrible cramps before childbirth. My mom quickly grabbed a heating pad, some pain relievers and tea then began sharing her story of cramps.

My mom’s cramps were so bad during her period that she would have to take the entire week off from school to deal with them. She eventually was prescribed birth control, to which she had negative side effects, and later came off of it. 

I'm thankful that when I got my period, my mother was able to open up and talk a bit about her story and the experience she had. Unfortunately, many women still shy away from the topic of “mother nature’s gift” and many girls are left to fend for themselves. A girl getting her period for the first time does inherently mark the day she “becomes a woman.” It can be a beautiful thing, but many women go through painful and horrible experiences (not only physically, but also mentally) every month as a result of their periods.

PMS, bloating, and mood swings are all associated with periods and none of these are things to jump for joy over. For me, I used to rarely experience bloating, although as I get older it seems to increasingly become a factor. Mood swings are also a very big component. When I was younger, PMS and mood swings were never really a thing for me, but recently, I've experience very low lows and very high highs. It’s almost as if I am manic.

Society on a whole doesn't take the effects of what a woman's period can do to her body seriously. Many times women are given alternatives to combat pain, and PMS, but many times those alternatives aren't necessarily a good fit. PMS is often referenced and joked upon, as if it is something women can control. It can be embarassing to deal with and talk about, leaving many women to deal with it in silence.

We need to inititate conversations about the totality of a woman's health. We need to research and share with one another as women, ways to deal with effects caused by our periods. Through sharing, we can eliminate the stigma that is so often attached to a woman’s period. 

Let’s start the conversation and make periods a bit more bearable for us females.

Are you on the pill? Have you experienced any side effects? What’s your take on birth control? How did you react to your period the first time? What’s some advice you can share for young girls and women dealing with bad periods and cramps?

Let’s hear your story! Comment down below and let us know you.

- Breanna Bharath