Learning to Love My Period, Part 1

Hello! My name is Becka, and I am a New Zealander making my home here in Vancouver with my husband and two grey cats.  I’m trained as a teacher, but now work as a doula while running a little online store with said husband where we sell various crafty wares.

As a teacher and women’s health advocate, I am really interested in and passionate about body awareness and positivity in relation to health and feeling self-empowered.  However, growing up with little to no sex education I can say that this has definitely not always been the case!

For a long time, my body, and especially my period, was a source of shame mixed with bewilderment.  To be honest, it wasn’t until well into my twenties that I felt like I had any understanding of my body.  It just wasn’t something that was talked about. I was reminded of this when my Grandma came to visit us recently.

As I was showing my Lunapads to her and my aunt, she mentioned that periods were never to be spoken about when she was young.  This didn’t surprise me and I made some quip about how we’re often being made to feel ashamed of our bodies, etc.  What did surprise me was her response: that she didn’t feel that it was because of shame.. but, that it just ‘wasn’t done‘. I decided not to press the issue, despite my feelings that the very fact things ‘aren’t done‘ or taboo are usually because of some sense of shame, whether self imposed or dictated by society, you know?

This conversation got me thinking about how far we’ve come since my grandma was a girl in the 40s and 50s. We have developed more user friendly menstrual products, for sure. Many of these have made it easier for women to continue with activities or lifestyle choices they may not have been able to with bulkier and less manageable products (think swimming and other sports related activities).

I think the freedom that this provides women is fantastic, however I sometimes have to wonder if we’ve actually come much further in terms of true freedom and feeling both good about, and empowered in our bodies as women.  Despite the huge variety of menstrual products now available to us, it still feels to me like we’re often talking around menstruating rather than engaging in an open dialogue about it.  To be clear, as I mentioned earlier, I think convenience is a great thing! It has meant that women are no longer hindered because of their period.  I also don’t think there is anything wrong with being discreet, if that is what makes you feel more comfortable.

As for talking about our periods, there are many reasons why women have felt uneasy about this.  On the one hand, menstruation is a healthy and natural sign that our body is working the way it is supposed to.  On the other hand, they can be painful, uncomfortable, very heavy and even a source of emotional pain.  While we know intellectually that menstruating isn’t dirty or unclean, this may be exactly how we feel during our period.

I will be the first to admit, despite my thoughts on celebrating our periods as something positive, more often than not I do not feel very celebratory during my own period! In saying this, I do believe that talking about our periods openly is a good thing. A healthy thing, in fact.  It can encourage us to be strong, independent and in charge of our own bodies, instead of feeling like victims of mother nature. This doesn’t necessarily mean only talking about periods lovingly or in a positive light, but sharing both the good and the bad stories, our triumphs and our frustrations, what has worked and what hasn’t worked for us.

The nature of Lunapads and reusable menstrual products in general has already played a large role in normalizing menstruation and has opened up a dialogue surrounding this, which I am really thankful for. Getting to a place of confidence and empowerment has definitely been a journey for me, and having a forum for discussion around my feelings has played a key role in this. I would love to share this with you more in my next post!

In the meantime, if you’d like to share some of your thoughts, feelings or stories about how you have learned to love your period (or not, as the case may be), please do so and comment below!

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  • I can’t say that I “love” my period, but I have certainly come to “appreciate” it. My period is my health beacon, as I’ve been through a decade of intimately getting to understand my cycle (mainly to get pregnant). Interestingly, for those 2 – 3 year long stretches when I didn’t have my period (while pregnant or nursing) I often missed the sense of monthly “connection” I had with my body, and all the raw emotions that came with it (from feeling edgy to elated!)

    As a girl, my mom referred to periods as ‘that dirty time’. Now that she knows what I do for a living and talks to me about it, I’d say we’ve both come a long way!

  • One day when I was having breakfast with my great aunt (she was about 80 at the time), she asked me why I looked so tired. I said, “oh, Aunt Lil, I’m having lots of period cramps and I am really exhausted by it.”
    “Oh, that’s a shame,” she replied. “I remember when I menstruated, I really did love the feeling of that warm blood between my legs.”

    I kid you not! Those were her exact words. and she has said the same thing on a few more occasions since, when menstruation comes up. Sometimes when I’m really dreading it or wishing it was over, I try to connect with her appreciation of it. It really helps!

  • My sister and I were the only menstruating women in our household when I grew up. My mother had a hysterectomy when we were young. I wonder how things would be different if all 3 of us bled at the same time!

    By being open with my daughters, ages 4 and 6, I have learned to appreciate my periods. I don’t want my girls to learn to hate their bodies b/c of my attitudes!

    I once had a mom and daughter in my store and her 4 yo grabbed my Sample diva cup and asked what it was. Before anyone could say anything – my 4 yo who was hanging out with us, piped up – “mommy puts that in her bits when she has her period!” While I was embarrassed at the time – that mom later asked me how I had approached and spoken with my daughter about menstruation. It was a neat way to connect with this other mother.

    btw – my hubby has issues with the word – vulva. He just hates how it sounds so he taught them the word “bits” instead. I just make sure that they know the correct word is vulva just like they know where their cavicle is!

  • Isabel B.

    I look forward to following this blog. Thank you for opening this kind of discussion.

    In spite of my mother’s “It’s a curse” attitude, I’ve always had positive feelings about menstruation. My mother had a hysterectomy when she was 28, and was happy to have that inconvenience finished. In my late 30s now, I have lived in dread of such a thing happening to me! I had a close call last year, but the doc was able just to remove the fibroids, and not everything else, for which I am so grateful. I have no children, and am still ambivalent about that. But what upset me most was the thought of not having my period, anymore, strange as it may sound. It’s part of who I am; I am creative at certain times during my cycle, and dreamy and contemplative during my period. I usually view this as a gift, and would have a hard time coping without it.

    I didn’t get my first period until the age of 15, and so I was ready by then. It meant that I was finally “normal” – I’d begun to wonder! It can be a nuisance at times, certainly, but since I discovered cloth pads and a menstrual cup, that time is so much easier. I feel as though I am taking care of myself, rather than merely tolerating this part of life.

    I am sure our grandmothers were thrilled to have disposable products made available to them, but I am equally happy now to have the option of non-disposables.

  • V

    I love how intense I feel during my period (elation or anger even), I feel like it’s only me and my blood and nature that exist during this time. Although I do get horrible cramps, if I drink Raspberry LEAF tea, I have none.

  • Venus

    Just discovered this blog; how wonderful. It’s good to talk about this, and to have positive feelings for such a wondrous part of our bodies. I’ve always had affectionate feelings for my periods, the monthly regularity of it all, the earthiness of it, synchronicity with the moon. It’s a sign that the body works as it should be working. Menstruation has a clear function—to bear healthy children—but it has more than one purpose, contributing as it does to feelings of wellness, wholeness, a sense of the life force within you. Childless, I’m moving into menopause with a deep sense of melancholy and loss, not just for my own youth, but of this true cycle of bleeding, shedding, healing, and bleeding again. During menses, I have this warm, dreamy feeling, of something uniquely private and yet universal all at once….