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?
Hello! I'm Janelle (she/her) a registered nurse, blogger, and women's health enthusiast. I use my platforms thenursenote.com to simplify content related to vagina, periods, and sex. My preferred pronouns are she/her
How did you first learn about periods?
My first real memory of learning about periods is probably from my 4th-grade health class. I'm originally from Toronto, Canada, where puberty and sexuality were part of the health curriculum. The class was separated by gender and they taught us about our bodies and how it worked. I remember my health teacher going into details about the technical aspect of menstruation. I was both intrigued and horrified at the same time.
Do you remember your first-period conversation? Who was it with and what was that like?
I remember my mom sitting me down when I was 5 or 6 years old and pulling out a book about puberty. She explained the body parts and how babies were made. I remember her talking about the female reproductive system and how periods happened, but the significance and meaning were totally lost on me as a 6-year-old. It wasn't until I was a little older and revisited sexual health in school that I actually understood the magnitude of the discussion we had and what that really meant.
When did you get your first period?
I actually did not get my first period until middle-school. I was 13 years old and it was the end of my 8th grade school year.
How was it? What happened?
I was sitting in class when I started to feel intense pain and pressure in my lower abdomen. I asked my teacher for permission to go to the bathroom. I hustled down the hall as fast I could, ran into the bathroom and entered into the first open stall available. I pulled down my pants and underwear and to my surprise, there was a freshly formed bloodstain staring back at me. My period had started and I was so unprepared. Since there were no feminine hygiene dispensers or school nurses on site, I did the next best thing. I grabbed a whole bunch of toilet paper wadded it up and made my own makeshift pad.
Do you try to take extra care of yourself while on your period? If so, how?
I have learned in recent years to listen to my body. If I'm feeling a little run down or tired, I will kick my feet up, cue up a random Netflix movie, and rest or take a much-needed nap. I still try to be physically active but instead of going all out on an intense run, I may decide to engage in gentle stretching or a light workout.
What are your favourite period products?
So, I've actually transitioned over to using reusable menstrual products in the past year. I'm a total menstrual cup convert and can't live without my menstrual cups (nixit cup tops the list of course) as well as my period panties. I use my cups for my heavier flow days and my period panties generally at the beginning or end of my period when my flow is a little lighter. I will also use my period panties in addition to my menstrual cup for additional protection if I think I need it.
Is there anything else about your period experiences you want to share?
So the funny thing is since I've transitioned to using reusable menstrual products, managing my periods has become a lot easier. Since I use period cups exclusively, I can wear them for longer periods of time and I don’t have to worry about planning my activities around when and where I may need to change or dispose of my menstrual products. My experience with reusable products has been so positive that I've made it my mission to convince every woman I know to give them a try.
Have the last challenging months affected your period and if so, how did you best navigate?
Juggling work-life, motherhood, and the pandemic looks different every day. When I get stressed my period tends to be delayed. If nothing else this year, I learned to be flexible and adapt to new situations. I try to celebrate victories daily and remind myself of all of the blessings that I've gained during the pandemic.