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 pronouns?
Hi & Sat Sri Akal I’m ਤਕਦੀਰ ਕੌਰ Taqdir Kaur (or simply Taq), the CEO of @imwithperiods and Digi-prof at UBC & Dalhousie U. My pronouns are she/her. My days primarily consist of research, writing, and teaching. I am now physically based in Halifax, Nova Scotia on Mi’kmaw Territories after spending many years living in Vancouver. My ancestors and family are from the Punjab region of India/Pakistan. I’m passionate about long walks in the forest and you guessed it… periods!
How did you first learn about periods?
My guess is that I learned about periods when my older sister got hers. I remember that she used to have really intense period pain and so my initial associations of periods and menstrual cycles was one of being unpleasant, mildly terrifying, but also a time when our mom treated us with so much care and kindness.
Do you remember your first period conversation? Who was it with and what was that like?
Honestly I didn’t have a conversation about periods until I got my first one! And then for the next 15 years almost every conversation I heard about periods was a negative one.
When did you get your first period?
I was around 11!
How was it? What happened?
I got my first period in the summer between Grade 5 and Grade 6, and I believe the convo with my mom (a single parent) was one of excitement, followed by instructions on how to use a pad. I remember my mom saying something like, “you don’t have to walk like a penguin!” in Punjabi while I waddled around my elementary school playground trying to get used to a pad.
Do you try to take extra care of yourself while on your period? If so, how?
YASSS!!! It all started when I went to therapy for the first time. I was in the second year of completing my Ph.D. at the University of British Columbia and on the outside seemed like I had my life together. On the inside,17 years of living in a fairly violent home + 7 years of being on the birth control pill (a.k.a not ovulating) = A Shitshow for me.
My amazing therapist recommended a book on the Fertility Awareness Method when I shared my desire to find a different method of birth control. In November 2017, I came off the pill and went on a life-changing trip to my homelands of India, where I got clear on my new mission to spread the WORLDWIDE LOVE OF PERIODS!
I’ll note here that we welcome everyone to our community, whether you: get a period; experience PCOS, endometriosis, and more; are taking the pill, the patch, the IUD; are taking gender affirming hormones; are in menopause; or don’t get a period. EVERYONE IS WELCOME. For me, the pill just kind of sucked. I felt emotionally unstable, nauseous, and depressed while taking it and so much better when I stopped.
From 2018 onwards, I directed my research towards learning everything on menstrual cycles I could find written in English. I also learned that the Punjabi word is Mahwari (you’ll read and hear me say ‘mahwari cycles’ A LOT). The Instagram account and blog for @imwithperiods was born. For the last few years, I have been spreading the word about the four seasons of menstrual cycles:
Periods = menstrual winter
Pre-ovulation = menstrual spring
Ovulation = menstrual summer
PMS = menstrual autumn
And just like in Earthly winter, I like to curl up in a fuzzy robe, get some warm foods going, and spend time doing inner work and rest on my period day.
What are your favourite period products?
I prefer re-usable period periods. Love the Nixit cup!! I also use the Diva Cup (my first menstrual cup), and I always like to keep a safety tampon on me which is NatraCare brand. On my light days I typically will wear period underwear from Revol or Aisle (formerly Lunapads).
Is there anything else about your period experiences you want to share?
I believe falling madly in love with our periods is a spiritual practice, a practice of decolonization, and a practice of sustainability. I have a hunch that once we start (re)living according to the four seasons of menstrual cycles as a society, we’ll begin to see decreases in health and social inequities, the healing of the Earth, and just generally less burnout.
Have the last challenging months affected your period and if so, how did you best navigate?
Honestly, the pandemic has been an important time of inner reflection for me. I have been able to tune into my body even more than in the past, and also learn how to use my menstrual cycles to compost (personal, societal, and planetary) stress. However, at the beginning I did have a mild freak out about access to abortion care for some reason. I got really worried for folks who might be experiencing unwanted pregnancies and not being able to have access to the care that they need. After about 2-3 cycles, I found myself more at ease with the restrictions, and I also started to share more ways that people can manage their fertility at home.