New series, yay! I’ve been wanting to do a ‘Girl Talk’ series for a while, and I’m so excited to work on it well into the future.
My ‘Girl Talk’ series will focus on anything female – shaving, bras, certain behaviors and traits, dating, intercourse, and other topics I have yet to decide on. If there is anything you’d like me to cover, comment below and I’ll look into it!
In the first installment of the series, I am going to touch on women’s favorite monthly visit – periods (sarcasm intended).
So, periods, or menstruation cycles.
Periods are a normal and natural aspect of women’s lives. They may be painful and uncomfortable, but going through them has personally assured me that important parts of my body are functioning properly.
Every woman experiences different period cycles.
Most of the information written in this post is based solely on my experiences with my period cycle. Please do not take any of what I say as professional medical advice. If you do need professional advice or treatment, do contact the appropriate licensed professionals.
There will be mention of blood, bleeding, and anything related to periods.
A Bit About Periods
A period is when blood from the lining of a uterus flows out from a woman’s vagina.
For women, the ovaries release estrogen and progesterone hormones. The hormonal changes happen when the lining in the uterus (or womb) build up to prepare for a fertilized egg to attach and begin developing. If there is no egg, the lining breaks down and bleeds. This process happens every month, which is why periods occur monthly.
My First Period
I had an idea as to what periods are, and I assumed that since most girls I knew had theirs when they were 11 or 12 years old, I had a couple of extra years before I got mine. Plus, I read online that, on average, women get their first period between the ages of 10-15 years old, when their bodies have maturely developed well enough for it to produce the hormones needed for ovulation, or pregnancy.
Although I was still part of the average, I was still surprised when Mother Nature decided to begin her monthly visits when I was 10 years old. A time when I didn’t think my body had maturely developed well enough as the articles say.
Nonetheless, I don’t remember noticing any signs that would have warned me that it was arriving, but I do recall seeing my underwear covered in blood one night, and I immediately began crying because I honestly thought it meant that I had to be an adult and stop doing all the fun things that kids do (thankfully that didn’t turn out to be the case).
Premenstrual Syndrome )PMS) Symptoms
PMS…they do bring out the not-so-best emotions in women (looking at myself). They are essentially the emotional and physical symptoms we go through right before, during, and occasionally after our periods.
They are not pleasant but are fairly accurate indicators of when my period actually arrives, which is often at least 1 day – 1 week before my time of the month.
Women show differing PMS symptoms. How can we tell what might we get? I don’t know. The ones I list below are my own personal symptoms. Not all of them happen at once. Some of them haven’t happened in years, and some have recently happened but are still not often.
Acne on my face and/or back – the huge kinds of pimples that are way too obvious.
Aching breasts – often tender as well.
Highly emotional – I’d easily cry even during sad cartoon moments or easily get offended towards anything that’s said directly towards me. And I’d have crazy mood swings.
Antisocial – this may not sound like much of a difference with being an introvert, but with PMS, I have a slightly stronger sense of not wanting to be bothered or even talked to. I’m often wanting to completely shut away from the entire world.
Extreme body heat – there is no sweating. It’s as if the heat is coming from inside my body and not even a fan or aircon could help cool me down.
Fatigue – there has been a couple of times when I just wouldn’t have the energy to do anything the whole day before my period, and usually the first full day of having it as well.
Body aches – the aches occur mostly in my upper body, such as my back and shoulders.
Loss of appetite – this happens throughout the duration of my period. Sometimes the pain causes me to not feel hungry, other times, I just don’t really have an appetite.
Regular vs. Irregular Periods
A regular cycle essentially means having your period average between 3-5 days every month after your first period. An irregular cycle is where periods occur every other month or a couple of months, and could also be lighter, heavier, arrive unpredictably, or last longer (or shorter) than usual.
My period was on a regular cycle up until I was around 18 years old. Since then, my period has become irregular. There were only two times when my period skipped two months, but never longer. Lately, my period seems to come every month, and my cycle seems to be regular, which I’m very thankful for.
Before, I’d keep track of my periods based on the part of the month – beginning, middle, or end. Only recently did I begin to take note of the dates of when my period would occur each month. My periods typically do not start and end on the same dates, but they always last between 3-5 days.
With my cycles, I noticed that when my period skips a month, there are often two reasons for them: I lack physical activity and/or I’m stressed.
My period typically arrives 2-3 days after doing these activities
Go out for a 15-30-minute walk.
Do household chores.
Spend at least one day completely doing nothing but relaxing.
Gently massage my abdomen with oil while lying down with a pillow behind my lower back.
Practice some yoga or other light exercises.
Birth control, or contraception a.k.a “the pill”, is a practice of preventing pregnancy. With periods, it is said to help regulate and lighten them, ease cramps, and reduce acne.
I have never taken birth control. It’s been recommended to me by my gynecologist to help regulate my period, but I choose not to do it for personal reasons. I’ve experienced being able to be on a regular cycle by simply being physically active, and that’s something I prefer to do more of, especially since it’ll help my body stay healthy as well.
I suggest talking to your gynecologist before taking any form of birth control.
Heavy or Light Cycles
I’ve always had heavy menstrual cycles, where a lot of blood would come out at a time. This amount would typically be double the amount released if I had skipped a month. Light cycles, where there was a decent amount of blood, occurred about three times throughout the years. The most I’ve changed my pad in one day is about five times.
Tampons or Pads
A pad, or sanitary napkin, which is a soft, rectangular absorbent product placed on underwear.
A tampon is a soft elongated circular menstruation product inserted into a woman’s vaginal canal. Once inserted, it expands as it begins to absorb and soak up blood and other vaginal fluids.
I have always preferred using a pad, and have not tried using a tampon. My go-to pads and panty liners are (not sponsored) Overnight U by Kotex Security Maxi Pad with Wings, U by Kotex Security Lightdays Panty Liners, Extra Coverage, and recently, the Always Maxi Extra Heavy Overnight Pads for when I’d go to sleep at night. I also prefer pads with “wings” that fold over the edges of the underwear to hold it better in place.
Some tips on handling pads and panty liners
Change the pad every 3-4 hours, even if it doesn’t feel full. This helps prevent any staining, and it keeps down there feeling somewhat fresh.
Winged pads help prevent side stains on the underwear and are more secure.
Continue to wear a panty liner for up to about two days from when there is seemingly no blood coming out. Extra blood might come out a little while later.
Always have at least one (1) pad and (2) pantyliner with me when I’m not on my period, and at least three (3) extra pads and (4) panty liners when I am on my period. Just to be safe.
Going for cotton and the least used underwear during my period. They’ll have a firmer grip on the pad, and I don’t have to worry about staining my nicer underwear, even if they’re able to come off with a wash.
It’s okay to use a variety of different pad brands. I feel comfortable with some more than others and that’s what matters.
Bloating and Cramps
Bloating is the feeling of heaviness and swelling in the abdomen. Cramps are the throbbing pain felt in the lower belly. They occur due to the contractions that the uterus goes through, making it squeeze or cramp up.
I get heavy bloating before my period, especially when I’ve skipped a month. I’ve never minded the bloating because it hasn’t really caused issues for me, so I’ve never done anything to soothe it other than let it go down once my period actually comes out.
When it comes to cramps, I experience mild to extreme cases almost every single time I get my period. It’s always the worst pain for me during my first two days. I’ve been fortunate enough that my periods typically begin on days when I didn’t have classes because I’d always find myself not being able to move from my bed throughout the entire day due to the amount of pain I’d feel from the cramps. When it’s too extreme, the only time I’d force myself to get up would be to change my pad and eat.
ACTIVITIES THAT HAVE HELPED ME LESSEN THE PAIN OF CRAMPS
Taking over-the-counter pain medications, such as Tylenol and Midol.
Eating chocolates – it sounds weird, but this has surprisingly worked well for me.
Avoid carrying heavy objects.
Place a bottle of hot water on the stomach and gently roll it up and down.
Relaxing – I use this time to catch up on anime or other TV shows.
Avoiding eating and drinking anything with vinegar – it increases the pain.
I’ve had my fair share of stains in my life, a couple of them leading to some of my most embarrassing moments ever. But, it happens and I’ve learned a couple of tricks to avoid getting stains or not making them obvious:
To prevent staining bed sheets, get an old shirt (or other soft, thick fabric, such as a towel I don’t mind staining or no longer use) or purchase a set of disposable fluff underpads big enough to be placed beneath and cover the butt area.
Wear overnight pads. Some are thicker and longer than regular pads and are able to absorb more blood.
When sitting, I avoid the half sitting and half laying down position. The blood will find its way to the back of the underwear.
Wear dark-colored jeans if you go out. Even if you end up staining your jeans, it won’t be obvious to everyone else.
And when I do get stains, I do my best to wash the stained item under cold water as soon as possible and use laundry detergent or a bar of bar soap. The fresher the stain, the faster and easier it is to remove them.
Other Period Experiences
My period did have a small odor back then, but now, the only scent I smell is the blood itself. Unfortunately, I’m not knowledgeable about period odors, why they happen, and how to prevent them. This is why I also often change my pad and wash up with fresh water whenever I can.
I have friends whose periods would slow down or stop when taking a shower on the first or second day of their period. I don’t know why this happens, but I am fortunate to be able to still take a full shower on my first day and have my period going at a steady pace.
If my experiences are able to help you, I hope that my personal experiences will help you to apply any relatable information to your situation.
Periods are a normal cycle for many women. It is our body’s way of releasing old, dirty blood from our system and keeping it clean and healthy. It’s not a pleasant feeling, but the 3-5 days of unpleasantness each month is worth the long years of life.
What are some of your period symptoms and/or experiences? If you haven’t had it yet, what are your main concerns about it?