Uterus Diagram

Learning to Love My Period, Part 2

~ a continuation from Learning to Love My Period, Part 1.

As I mentioned in my last post, for a long time I had no understanding of my period other than it came once a month and that over the years it got progressively more painful. In fact, when I was first typing up the draft for this post I was lying in bed with a hot water bottle, tea and some dark chocolate at the ready, willing myself to feel a little more excited about periods!

I vividly remember first getting my period. A few friends of mine had theirs, and I think we may have had the ‘period talk‘ at school, so I at least knew what it was. Much to my relief my stepmother didn’t make a big deal about it, got me some pads and gave me some advice on when to change them, staying clean and the like.

As far as I can remember, that was the last time I really spoke frankly (or was spoken to frankly) about my period for quite some time. My family decided to homeschool my sister and I once my first year of high school rolled around, and sadly no sex education of any sort was taught. So, while I’m sure it isn’t uncommon for girls in their early teens to be fairly private about their bodies, the fact that I wasn’t getting any information from any source, left me completely in the dark.

When I was around 16 or so, I went to see the doctor to address the dreaded acne I was experiencing. He in turn diagnosed me with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and put me on the pill.

PCOS ovary diagram

After this diagnosis I saw many different doctors who all talked to me as if I understood what my period was about. I always nodded and agreed with them, took the tests and whatever latest medicine they wanted to give me, while never having a clue what they were talking about. I knew that my body was getting rid of something when menstruating; what or why, I had no idea, nor did I really know how this related to the cysts on my ovaries (they’re actually not cysts, but immature follicles that look like multiple cysts in an ultrasound). What I did know was that my period was still painful, uncomfortable and now the ’cause’ of this mystery illness which caused acne, caused weight gain, and possibly infertility. Great!

Thankfully, while I was at Teachers College, I had the pleasure of living with two medical students and a trainee Health & P.E. Teacher. Needless to say, discussions about bodies, health, sexuality, etc became much freer! This was such a revelation to me! To be able to discuss my body, my period and my feelings towards that openly was so empowering (and at times hilarious) and it encouraged me to do some research both into PCOS and the fundamentals of menstruation that totally opened up my eyes. Before this, it had truly never occurred to me that I could look into this for myself – partly out of embarrassment that I didn’t already have the answers. A few years back my husband bought me a copy of the groundbreaking book ‘Our Bodies, Ourselves‘ which furthered my education and understanding of my body and my period.

So no, I don’t always ‘love‘ my period. What I do love is how empowering it feels to be knowledgeable and to feel connected to what my body is doing, and I am so thankful that there were people who gave me the space to be able to discuss this openly in the first place!

How about you? How have your feelings toward your period changed (or not) over the years? Is it something you feel comfortable talking about with friends and family? I’d love to hear your thoughts and stories in the comments!

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  • Sharna

    Im so glad your taking this journey. I am trying to appreciate my period more these days too. I have a toddler and try to remind myself that this thing i see as an inconvenience made it possible for someone i love so much to come into my life.
    Luckily i went to a girls school so everything was very open. I remember the first day of yr9 going to the officer because i got my first period, and a male teacher looked at my awkward face, gave me a reassuring smile, and left the room so i could stumble through telling the female teacher what was wrong.

  • Amy

    I am thankful that things have evolved to the point where women can have access to some degree of information regarding menstruation while they are teenagers. In our grandmothers’ era, it really was shrouded in mystery and shame.

    I sorta figured things out about my own period through the library and a few friends who started theirs earlier than me. Mom told me zero, except to encourage me to stay clean once she figured out I had started menstruating. Thanks, Ma.

    Fast forward to my discovery of the Keeper at the ripe old age of 30. After having given birth (and flashed everyone in the hospital room with my privates while doing so LOL) I was now comfortable enough with my body to handle this type of thing.

    And then, a series of miscarriages humbled me to struggle to understand more about my own reproductive health. Enter Randine Lewis’ book, “The Infertility Cure”. In it, she states that a woman’s monthly period is like a monthly endocrine report card on your health.

    Wow! It was refreshing to learn, unlike Western medicine, that in Traditional Chinese Medicine, observations about your period’s flow (colour, presence of clots, quantity) and any cramping or pain, as well as cycle length could be corroborated with basal temp charting and actually gave meaningful and important information.

    I went on to have 2 successful healthy low-risk pregnancies without the scary scenario presented to me by a mousy hematologist at the local hospital thanks to reading Lewis’ book. All my 3 kids were birthed with midwives, and I do have a women’s health advocate side to me as a result.

    I hope to celebrate my daughter’s coming of age (first menarche) one day with positive info that will empower her to take the initiative in protecting her health.

  • belle

    i’ve been having weird discharges, which graduated into irregular periods (it’s currently day 38 of my cycle, no sign of my period coming any time soon at all). my mother used to be a pharmacy technician, has dreams & aspirations of being a doula/midwife, & currently manages a natural health store – she’s pretty much against western medicine. that being said, we’ve been trying to figure out what the heck is wrong with me & my period. i tried femmed’s hormonal balance, which i had noticed some positive changes with, but it was too expensive & didn’t really do all that much. one of my mom’s employees is a naturopath doctor. recently she was speaking with her about my issues, & tamara (the naturopath) deduced that i probably have polycystic ovary syndrome. i’m only 21 & have no plans of having a baby anytime soon… but this news still crushed me. my mom said she wants me to go see our family doctor to get a blood test done for the lutenizing hormone & just send her the results for the naturopath doctor. until then, i’m researching as much as i can about this god awful sydrome!

    i know this blog post was quite a few months ago, but if you could help me out at all i would be extremely grateful!


    thank you!