Approximately half of the population on this planet gets, has gotten, or will get a period. And yet for some reason no one talks about it. What the fuck is up with that?
A couple weeks ago I was eating lunch with some follow chronic illness folks. Between us we had two cases of hypothyroid, Hashimoto’s disease, endometriosis, neuropathy, herniated disks, PCOS, 2 cases of Celiac Disease…. and a bunch of other diagnoses. We were 4 women and 1 man. At one point I turned to my friend with endometriosis and excitedly told her that I’d gotten my period the week before. She congratulated me. Then I explained to the others that I was excited because before that I hadn’t gotten it for 7 or 8 months. The women congratulated me. The man squirmed. Now, I can understand a teenager being uncomfortable, but a man in his 50s or 60s who’s been married for years? I just don’t get it.
There are plenty of situations where it’s not appropriate to discuss my period. I’m ok with that. But if it’s ok to talk about my chronic pain, then I can talk about my period. If it’s ok to talk about my nausea, then I can talk about my period. If it’s ok to talk about being pregnant, then I can talk about my period. And I will if it’s relevant. I won’t censor myself on this.
There are cultures where a woman* is shamed for having a period, where she’s considered dirty. In some cultures, men can’t touch women while they’re having their periods, even married couples. In some cultures, girls have to cover their bodies from head to toe when they get their periods. In my culture here in the U.S. it simply isn’t discussed except in the patronizing and dismissive form of an upset woman being referred to as being “in her time of the month.” Now, it’s true that some women get more emotional around the time of their periods. Not all women do. And women, like men, can feel emotions at other times as well. Imagine that!
The squirmishness can’t be from the blood. Sure, some people have issues with blood, but that usually involves seeing the blood. Most people don’t get as squirmish when I mention a bloody nose as they do when I mention my period. Hmm. So maybe it has to do with discussion of women’s bodies. No, it can’t be that general. No one seems to mind if I mention something about my arm. So maybe it has to do with women’s reproductive systems? Could be. Legislators are regulating birth control pills and abortion but not condoms or Viagra. Many citizens think this is ok. Others may be against it, but won’t discuss it. The Vagina Monologues came about because many people won’t speak the word vagina. I admit, there was a time when I was embarrassed to say the name of the show. But by my early 20s I was over it. I wish everyone else would get over it. Because women have vaginas. And, oh-so-shockingly, women have periods!
Let’s get something straight: every single person on the planet came into being because of a woman’s fertility. Think about that for a moment. Has it settled in? Are you ready for the next revelation? Part of a woman’s fertility cycle almost always involves getting a period. Think about that a bit. Makes sense, right? A woman’s period, after all, has to do with an unfertilized egg shedding the uterine lining. They’re connected. So everyone should be grateful for women’s periods! Would you have been born if your biological mother had never had a period? Maybe. It’s possible. But it’s not likely. So be glad that women get periods! Period.
Ok, it’s your turn. Speak up! How do you feel about this subject? Do you think women should be able to openly mention their periods, especially in medical contexts, without people saying it’s gross? If you have two x chromosomes, do you discuss your period if it’s relevant? If you have a y chromosome, how do you feel when women discuss their periods?
*I’m referring to cisgender women, for the sake of simplicity. Obviously trans women don’t always have vaginas. And trans men might have vaginas. And there are plenty of genderqueer folk who don’t identify as either men or women.