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?
Lauren: I’m Lauren. A sexual and reproductive health advocate, market researcher, multi-disciplinary artist and dog mom. I go by she/her pronouns.
Meghan: I'm Meghan (she/her). I am a long time health equity advocate, full time business student, co-founder of Period Packs, and dog mom to Isaac the cockapoo!
How did you first learn about periods?
Lauren: My family is pretty open about all this stuff. I have an older sister and our mom always had tampons stocked in our washroom so I think I just learned by hearing it talked about in my house.I also remember talking about wanting to get it with my friends in grade 6&7.
Meghan: From the pages of my warped, fairly inaccurate, catholic sexual education book titled 'Family Planning' in the seventh grade (which was 18 years ago!). I can still picture the cover of the book; a collage of adults smiling holding children, friends with their arms around each other's shoulders, kind of like a poster you would see in the window of a pharmacy. I think the book would have better prepared me for the realities of having your period if the cover would have shown a woman crippled over with cramps, crying into a tub of ice cream surrounded by discarded pizza boxes.
Do you remember your first period conversation? Who was it with and what was that like?
Lauren: I don’t remember any specific convo except maybe in health class in elementary school. Boys and girls were split up in grade 4&5 health and we learned about periods and reproduction while they learned about... who knows!
When did you get your first period?
Lauren: I was 12 or 13 in grade 7.
Meghan: No idea! I know it was summer, I must have been about 14 or 15.
How was it? What happened?
Lauren: I distinctly remember getting it at home (Lucky me!) and coming out of the bathroom to tell my parents. My dad said Congratulations! Lol
Meghan: My earliest memory of my personal experience with menstruation was having my best friend coach me through how to use a tampon so I could fully participate in a pool party I was attending! We had been working on a terrible synchronised swimming routine and it was critical I was in the pool to practice! That must have been the second or third time having my period.
Do you try to take extra care of yourself while on your period? If so, how?
I have always had excruciating periods (something I should have sought help for years ago) but for the last 6 months it has been nothing short of unbearable. Flash forward to half a dozen gynecologists appointments, a few trips to the ER and some strong narcotics and I am learning to cope with this new reality. I have come to terms with it, it used to make me feel weak or lazy because I could no longer power through. Now I have big red banners in my calendar the week I am menstruating that reads: NO MEETINGS on period, be kind to yourself. I have a whole drawer filled with all my coping tools: hot water bottles, CBD tea, bath salts, aromatherapy mists, essential oils, if it makes me feel relaxed and good it is in that drawer!
What are your favorite period products?
Is there anything else about your period experiences you want to share?
Lauren: Yes! I was on oral birth control for 15 years and it made my period regular but really negatively affected my Mental health. I had an IUD inserted almost 5 years ago (Mirena - localized hormones) and I was fortunate to not have many complications with it and a bonus side effect is that my period has basically gone away. It does come sporadically which is pretty annoying but it is nothing Period underwear or a daily liner can’t handle. Sometimes I’ll get cramps out of nowhere and be like “oh! I must have my period” It’s going to be an adjustment to go back to regular periods in the future if/when I remove my IUD.
Meghan: TRACK YOUR PERIOD!!! TRACK YOUR period...track your period! It has been my greatest tool and I hate that it took me 16 years of menstruating to finally start doing it. It has helped me accept my body, take care of it instead of trying and force it to do things it is just not capable of. It helps me cope psychologically and emotionally, I feel more connected to my body and understand when the hormones are about to hit me like a ton of bricks and make the appropriate accommodations to live happily, healthy and well!
Have the last challenging months affected your period and if so, how did you best navigate?Lauren: I think the hardest thing to navigate for me when it comes to living life through a pandemic and being someone who menstruates is being able to manage pms/anxiety while quarantined 24/7 with my partner (who is amazing, but always around!) sometimes you just need extra alone time while on your period, ya know!?
I guess they kind of affected it for the better. That sounds odd but until now I never allowed myself to stop and deal with the clinical problems I was experiencing from my period. I always had somewhere to be, a meeting to get to, class or attend. At home I was finally able to rest through my cycle and realize whoa you can not just power through this. Your body needs your attention right now, and it finally has it!