Periods aren’t going anywhere, so let’s get used to them

At Orientation Week’s “Get Involved Fair” I was pleased that my table was located beside Sustainable Cycles, an LSPIRG working group.

Sustainable Cycles is partially a business that sells reusable pads made from sustainable materials, and partially an awareness group, educating men and women about the sacred rights of menstruation.

When two first year guys walked up to the display of reusable pads stating how disgusting it was, I was primarily annoyed and considered them ignorant.

Then, I realized that it is a bit disgusting, and I was glad that they were open enough to go up to Lauren, who was minding the booth, and engage with her about the issue.

Reusable pads are much better for the environment than disposable ones, but some women want to spend as little time dealing with their period as possible.

Although, many girls are given pads by their mothers, told to hush up about it, and are left to fend for themselves for the rest of their lives.

Some never swim at that time of the month or do other activities that they might otherwise enjoy.

Some women are afraid to try tampons, and others never even learn about the wonders of the Diva Cup, a reusable silicone cup that needs to be replaced every few years and otherwise only requires the menstrual blood to be disposed of.

I’m grateful for the Diva Cup, and the fact that it’s allowed me to be more mobile when I bleed, as being active helps with cramping.

I’ve suffered from cramps on and off for the last nine years, which adds up to a lot of sick days. It’s especially frustrating that the cramps get worse as I get more stressed out, and stressful weeks are when a healthy body and mind are most necessary.

I endured terrible cramps throughout a midterm in second year only to break down afterward, certain that I had failed. I explained to the instructor what was wrong; he’d grown up with several sisters and understood what I was going through.

Even now I’m grateful that he believed me, as I’m sure many girls have tried using the excuse “I’m on my period” to get out of sticky situations.

Yet, other men fall into the trap of assuming that all girls on their period ought to be treated as delicate flowers. Some girls don’t suffer from the same affliction of painful periods.

If everyone were more open about menstruation, these helpful understandings would be more common, and misunderstandings wouldn’t happen. Of course, it also requires girls to be more honest about when they are actually experiencing an influential part of their cycle instead of using it as an excuse.

Besides the physical part of the menstrual cycle, there is often a lot going on emotionally as well. For that reason, in a relationship it is especially important to be open about this particular bodily function. I’m still flabbergasted when I hear of men who think that periods or period sex are simply “gross” and refuse to accept it as anything but.

I feel a bit guilty sometimes for going back and forth on the issue of period sex, but my partner seems to understand that it’s not just a physical matter but a hormonal one as well.

Understanding that this period of time is generally unpredictable can go a long way for a relationship.

It is important that women do not have to deny such a regular part of their life. Perhaps for those who do not experience cramping in any way it’s not such a big deal; for women who do suffer from pain, to be able to accept that and have those around them accept it can be life changing.

For both men and women, it is probably just a good idea to remember that females have been experiencing menstrual cycles for thousands of years, so perhaps we all ought to simply become comfortable with that fact and learn how to talk about it.