Finally, a candid conversation about periods. We get it. Periods are personal. Choosing empowerment over embarrassment, we’re here to give a real-life lesson on menstrual cycles and our bodies. And what better way to do that than from hearing stories about periods from our colleagues, friends and people we have met on this incredible journey. So join us as we talk about- yep, you guessed it - periods. #leaveyourstain
Who are you (we’d love to get to know you!) and what are your preferred pronouns?
My name is Anusha Gandhi (she/her) and I am 37 years old, living in Ottawa with my fiance and my fur baby. I have a disease called Endometriosis which is when tissue similar to the lining of the uterus begins to grow outside the pelvic cavity and on any and every organ. I have struggled with endometriosis since I was 14 years old, and now also have a disease called Ulcerative Colitis that affects my colon.
How did you first learn about periods?
I recall first learning about periods during sex education class in school. It was an hour every few weeks, explaining the male and female reproductive systems. At the end, I received a brochure, a pad, and a mini bar of deodorant. I used the deodorant, stashed the pad, and handed my mom the brochure. I’m not sure it has ever seen the light of day.
Do you remember your first period conversation? Who was it with and what was that like?
I remember having my breasts start growing at the age of 12 or 13, so I wasn’t particularly keen on also having my period. I had a scare one evening, while we were at my grandparent’s house, and there were so many people in the house.. My mom was at work so I called my aunt into the bathroom. It was a false alarm, thank goodness. When I finally got my period for the first time, mom showed me how to put on a pad. There was no sit down chit chat afterwards like you see in movies. That ‘handing me the pad’ was the beginning and end of our period discussion.
When did you get your first period?
I was 14. I remember it was nearing the end of my final year in middle school.
How was it? What happened?
A lot of my friends already had it so I kind of knew what to expect. Part of me was thrilled as this was the beginning of my womanhood, but part of me was also very neutral about the whole thing. The first period I ever had was so uneventful. I don’t remember how heavy it was or where I was. It’s every period thereafter that sticks out. It only took a few months - if that - for my periods to become gruesomely heavy, painful and unpredictable. Sometimes I would get my period everyday for a month. Other times it would be three days on, a few days off, and then back again. I was sweaty all the time, I leaked all the time because I was still using pads, and I just began to loath my period.
Do you try to take extra care of yourself while on your period? If so, how?
It took me years to learn to take extra care of myself, but now I do. I mentally give myself the permission to feel anything I need to feel, emotionally and physically. I go to bed early when I need to, I binge on junk if it’s what will ease my emotions. And the rest of the time I am gluten free and dairy free as I know those things heavily impact what we call endo belly - the ballooning of the belly due to inflammatory foods.
What are your favorite period products?
I am currently skipping my periods to discourage the growth of more endometriosis, and to avoid the ebbs and flows of hormones that make my pain worse. But I will say that when my periods do break through, I love CalyxWellness’s Smooth CBD cream which was recently gifted to me. I also adore this aromatherapy spray called “Spray the Bitch Away” by Frankie and Myrrh. It literally melts my tension away.
Is there anything else about your period experiences you want to share?
Truthfully my period experiences were traumatic. I landed in the hospital countless times due to fainting from extreme blood loss, or because of excruciating pain. Finding out that I had a disease which affects 1 in 10 people who menstruate - called Endometriosis - gave me some peace of mind but it didn’t help with overcoming the struggles. It is an ongoing battle. One in which I am being very well taken care of by my specialist but if there is one thing I can convey by sharing my story it is that painful periods are NOT normal.
Have the last challenging months affected your period and if so, how did you best navigate?
It has for sure. I was not supposed to be getting my periods since I’m adamantly skipping them. But with endometrial excision surgery in the midst of a pandemic, and added stress from all of it, I was bleeding and feeling the aches and pains that were once so familiar to me. I have navigated it by keeping a journal of my symptoms and trying to be as healthy as possible. For my mind and my body, I am devoted to yoga, baths, and aromatherapy. While they dont fix the problem, I can overcome a lot more when I have a clear mind.