That time of joy in every woman’s month.
As I type, I sit with ibuprofen coursing through my bloodstream, heat pad nestled on my swollen tummy and a mood veering between wanting to punch someone or fuck their brains out.
I have had a tempestuous relationship with my frenemy, Mother Nature, ever since she paid me her first visit. Every girl remembers her first period. Mine was… awkward. My mother had never talked to me about the subject and neither had my older sister. So, that fateful morning, when I discovered what had happened overnight, I, (very unwillingly), approached my mother and told her. She promptly brought me back to the bathroom, handed me a pad the size of a super king mattress and left me to it, with the advice that I might feel unwell and sore and to take an aspirin if that happened.
From then on, whenever I required ‘supplies’, I would drop the code, (“I need more of those things…”) and a packet would appear in my bottom drawer by magic.
A child of the 70’s, I read Jackie magazine. I saw an advert for LilLets tampons and was intruiged and desperately wanted to try them, but I was much too shy to buy them myself.
(I was a bit of an early starter and younger than most girls, that’s all I’m saying!)
I read the advice in the Problem Pages about how to broach the delicate matter with your mother and took it on board. Summoning up all my tender courage, I sat next to her one day with the advert open and pointed to it and tentatively said, “I’d really like to try these please,” to which she raised her eyebrows skywards and replied, “You do know they go… inside you?!” I nodded, blushing and she sniffed and said fine, if that’s what I wanted.
Fast forward over the years and I got to the point where I started to buy my own tampons… the embarrassment passed down from my dear mother lingered.
My approach was akin to a spotty teenage boy buying condoms…
- grab the box
- try to shield it from the eyes of other shoppers
- place it on the counter, probably hidden under a magazine
- blush furiously as I pay for my shameful purchase
Now, people, I do know periods are a natural phenomenon and absolutely nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed of. I hope any mothers of young girls out there reading this realise how crucial their handling of the whole menstruation subject is. My poor mother was obviously very uncomfortable with the topic and it effected my attitudes for many years.
I hang my head in shame as I admit this next morsel…
Some background first…
In Ireland, several years ago our government, in all their Nanny-state wisdom, changed the law regarding over-the-counter painkillers that contained codeine. In order to buy a packet of Solpadeine at a pharmacy now, us unfortunate customers must endure a third degree interrogation, the likes of which the KGB would be envious of.
A typical exchange goes along the lines of this…
“Can I have a box of Solpadeine please?” you shamefacedly whisper across the counter.
A concerned frown descends over the pharmacists face, “What pain are you taking them for?”
You point downwards and whisper again, “Period pain,” trying to look in as much agony as you can.
“Have you tried any other forms of pain relief?”
“Yes, everything but this works the best,” you reply.
“You are aware that they contain codeine? You know you MUST not take them for more than three days!” the assistant informs you, as if you were about to crush the pills and snort them off the counter like cocaine.
Once the “deal” has been done you gleefully exit the chemist, grasping the magic box close to your chest, a feeling of victory welling up inside you.
I am actually grateful that I am a woman… the poor OH has no hope of ever buying Solpadeine and, as a result, I have effectively become his supplier. I have been known to visit alternate chemists and have a month long period at times… As my own GP has said to me, “It’s easier to score fecking heroin these days than to buy Sopladeine!”
As for my shameful secret? If the assistant behind the pharmacy counter happens to be a man, I walk on by!
I still, at the ripe old age of 42, cannot divulge to a strange man that I am a normally functioning female human being that does indeed menstruate on a monthly basis. Pathetic or what?! Wow did my mother do a number on me!
I am learning to be less shy about the topic, obviously as I am spilling all my period related secrets here publically on my blog!
For example, my unfortunate, (male and female), twitter friends tend to be aware of my cycle, as I frequently tweet about my PMS-induced brain fog, sore boobs or bloating, alongside my monthly announcements that my uterus has declared war on me.
I no longer hide my tampon box underneath all my other shopping. I recently made a very typically female purchase of a box of tampons, a bottle of white wine, a packet of paracetemol and a bag of salad. All that was missing was a box of chocolates!
A friend of mine has recently told me she is a fan of the Moon Cup and when I shared this fact with the OH, as I write opposite him, his face drained of blood, (pardon the pun), and he looked ill.
I wonder if men had periods how different the world would be?
The OH just informed me that there would be a law passed that if anyone pissed you off as you bled from your genitals you would be allowed justifiable homicide. He also said that men would absolutely be allowed to remain home from work for one week a month. Before male readers attack me… this is coming from one of your own, not my words!
I personally think, if men had periods, major advances in pain relief and contraception would have been prioritized and made. As our government is vastly, predominantly male, I also think the ridiculous crack down on OTC codeine would never have been instigated. Furthermore, sanitary protection would be cheaper if not actually free.
And of course, men would be very loud about their pain and suffering… If you’ve ever experienced the Oscar-winning histrionics of man flu, can you imagine the wailing and moaning once blood, (sometimes serious quantities of it), begins to flow out of their penises. Add to that the excruciating cramps that will rip through their bodies, their man boobs so tender and sore that fabric touching them can make tears spring to the eyes. I won’t even go into the bathroom details… in case any of you are of a delicate disposition.
However, for all my whining about The Curse, these days, I tend to welcome her as a sign that my body is healthy and working as it should be. After a hiccup years ago, where they disappeared for a couple of years, I am now happy to feel that familiar heaviness in my stomach that indicates She is on the way.
Knowing that my next challenge will be the cessation of my monthly companion, and all that will bring with it, (vaginal dryness, hot flushes, weight gain, mood swings, tears, lack of sex drive, possibly a moustache), makes me ever more grateful when she arrives every month.
So women, embrace your femininity and all that goes with it.
Men, be extra sweet to the women in your lives when THAT time of month comes around and be bloody grateful that you got that Y chromosome… period!
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