My periods have always been painful. They’d often force me to miss school, university or work, and if I was caught out in the middle of town I’d been known to lie down for an hour or two in a cubicle of a public toilet.
I got my period on the second week of my honeymoon on a remote island, and I remember feeling scared one night that there was no hospital on the island, because I was in far too much pain for comfort. So they were really no picnic to begin with.
But one month, out of nowhere, on Day 2 of my period I was suddenly gripped with the worst pain I’d ever felt, and I remained in a state of complete agony for the next two days. My husband had to rescue me from work and help me to bed. I couldn’t stand up straight. I couldn’t walk without holding onto things. It was quite scary.
At this stage my periods were longer than they used to be too: I’d gone from five day to eight day periods. So I did some neurotic late night googling, and canvassed opinions from friends, and also went to a proper doctor. It looked to all concerned like I had endometriosis maybe.
Say it again
Last fall I had a conversation about menstruation with my then two-year-old daughter. I didn’t want to; I was forced. Some were amused by its content. Some inspired.
Just the other night, the topic of periods came up again. Because I was having mine, and once again my daughter saw the string between my legs.
“Somefeen in your butt, Mommy.”
“We had this conversation before, honey. Do you remember? There is nothing in my butt. It’s in my vagina, and it’s called a tampon.”
A look of recognition came across her face, and she nodded as if to say she remembered. And then she was quiet for a moment. I thought I was getting off easy this time. But…
While riding on the N train last month, I noticed those damned, lower-back cramps signaling to me that my visitor arrived three weeks too early.
I was not prepared, if you know what I mean.
I arrived to Fordham (a New York University) with a half hour to kill before class. I went to the bathroom with my loose change, ready to purchase a tampon from a dispenser. To my astonishment, I discovered that no such dispenser existed.
I ran through the stairwells searching all floors for tampon dispensers. I realized that our beloved campus was not equipped with the ammo needed to combat the red scare.
I struggle to be on friendly terms with what is commonly referred to as maxi pads. Although it’s been many years since I’ve used one, I remember why I began disliking pads—they felt like diapers for adults, only instead of urine & fecal matter, I was sitting in menstrual fluids.
My issue with pads began while I was in high school. I was in the middle of class, had just changed my pad, yet I felt warm liquid working its way up my crack. I knew if I didn’t catch it, I would leak, so I excused myself to the bathroom for maintenance. Sure enough, my pad wasn’t catching the menstrual fluids. I thought if I’d used 2 super, extra long maxis with wings that my problem would be solved, but that didn’t help either. The menstrual fluid would just travel up, missing the pad altogether. Also, the size of the pads made me feel like I was sitting on a pillow, or wearing a diaper. I’d had it with pads, so I decided to try tampons. I was in love! Leakage was rare, I didn’t feel like I was wearing a diaper, and I wasn’t sitting in my own fluid. Also, I could SWIM—which I loved to do—so I was sold. I have been using tampons for years ever since.
Currently, with awareness spreading about Toxic Shock Syndrome, I am looking for new products to use during my period. I refuse to use pads because I cannot imagine sitting in my own fluids again, and I desperately want to stop using tampons because at times my vagina needs a break from having a foreign object lodged up there, even if it is temporary. I haven’t been brave enough to try something new, but with new articles being written about the chemicals used in tampons, my vaginal health comes before comfort. One thing is certain: I will never use pads again.
I will never forget the shopping trip that I took with my Mom when we were searching for my grade 8 Graduation dress. I had my period and I had the worst cramps I had ever experienced. I had already taken some medication for the pain, but it wasn’t doing anything for me. I should have listened better to my body because I ended up passing out on the change room floor because the pain was so intense! We ended up going to see the doctor after that and I was prescribed some special medication that helped me get through the terrible cramps each month.
My parents divorced when I was 11 and my mother moved out of the house. For a while my mother would buy me my monthly “supplies” and drop them off because it was too embarrassing to ask my father.
After a while, my mother said I was on my own to pick up these necessities. In an effort to be sly and avoid any conversation about my needs, I decided to quietly add them to the weekly grocery list for my dad. I wrote “pads” in the middle of the list. I thought for sure I’d be safe. And then the day of shopping came and there my father stood in front of me, list in hand, questioning what I meant by “pads”. Do you mean “sanitary napkins?” Uggghhhh….who says that? I was horrified!! “Yes” I replied, hoping that would be the end. To my dismay, it continued. “So, what do they look like, what color, what size?” It seemed to never end. Wait till he saw some of them had wings!! But once the horror ended, he did his fatherly duty and helped his daughter out, until I made it to high school and mustered the courage to buy them on my own.
I will never forget his sacrifice. I never knew why it seemed so embarrassing and why it was such a big deal to buy the “supplies.” Even now, it still feels like an odd purchase. But we’re all in this together, so what’s the big deal? Why is there such a stigma? But more so, it taught me how I will handle my own daughter’s experience and discomfort when she comes into her own and will teach my husband to be knowledgeable, prepared and sensitive. Just in case….
Growing up, I was a swimmer. I took swim lessons in back to back sessions and I eventually became a life guard. I had to learn how to use a tampon rather early on in my period experiences. I didn’t realize how time consuming trying to figure out how to use a tampon would be nor did I ever think that I would want my Mom’s assistance or advice. My Mom left to go out with her friends on the day that I had to figure out how to use one. I was having a swim test that was very important and I could not miss. I spent what seemed like hours upon hours locked up in the bathroom with a mirror and some tampons. My father eventually came upstairs to check on me to see if I was ok. I blushed through the closed door. He obviously couldn’t help me and I could tell that he felt awkward and embarrassed about the whole thing. Boy, was I ever glad when I finally came out of the bathroom having figured it all out. That day, I promised myself that if I ever had a daughter that I would not leave her if she needed my support with feminine issues, at least not to go out with my friends.
This is a story that goes back all the way to high school. I was experiencing a heavy flow and I remember I was wearing a regular pad. I did a lot of walking around and sitting during the day and you know what that does to your period right?
It makes your period flow more towards the front than the back so a simple solution for this is to just strategically place your pad closer to the front. This means your pad will cover less area at the back but as long as you know you’re not doing any activity that involves laying down such as sit ups or napping, then you shouldn’t experience any leaks.
Anyways, when I realized that I had leaked, it was already too late. My period had leaked and seeped through my pants and ON TO my jeans!!! And yes you could see it… it was right on my crotch!