So there was a lot of misinformation, and just a huge lack of the nitty gritty stuff, when I was in school and I see a lot of young kids on forums asking if something is normal or worrying about stuff and adults who have wondered their whole lives if other people feel the same on their periods.
Here’s some stuff about periods people might not talk about;
- It can smell. But using scented pads isn’t a great idea, the chemicals in the perfume cause irritation. But here’s the thing; vaginas smell. All of them. All the time. Right now. YOU notice the smell because it’s literally part of you, but other people don’t. If it’s a foul smell and very strong you should speak with a gynecologist, but the average day-to-day odor is normal and doesn’t mean you’re dirty.
- Diarrhea all day every day.
- Or, alternately, constipation all day every day.
- ALSO alternatively, a healthy mix of both sprinkled randomly across the days of your period like too much nutmeg where no one asked nutmeg to be.
- Your first period might not look like a period at first. It might look, well, brown, and lead you to other conclusions about what’s going on in your skivvies. Then it might not come again the next month and show up on a totally different week when it does. Mine came like A LOT. It was very heavy and I bled through a pair of jeans in the middle of school it was so heavy. I didn’t know what it was and thought I was bleeding from my butt because my liar teacher said a period would only be a ‘tablespoon’. Tablespoon of lies.
- At some point your probably going to stain the back of the toilet seat with blood. That doesn’t mean your bleeding too much, or that your dirty, but it’s a tid bit of information I wish I knew as a kid so I could have known to look for it when using public restrooms or at friend’s houses.
- Period farts.
- Having sex on your period isn’t gross or dirty or wrong. Put an old towel down on the bed and have at it.
- The feelings you have on your period are entirely valid and not imagined or unimportant because of your period. Whether or not your feelings are heightened by PMS they are still your feelings and should be respected.
- The ‘average’ period is anywhere from 3-10 days with any variation in flow. You shouldn’t be concerned because your period isn’t the same as your friends is, only if it changes from what’s average for you. There isn’t such a thing as a ‘normal period’ you need to fit into.
- If you wear a disposable pad there will be a point where it’s going to unstick at some corner and when you pull it off it’s going to pull some of your pubic hair with it. This is going to suck. I am very sorry.
- If you wear a tampon there is going to be a point you will squeeze it out of yourself when you use the bathroom. Just change your tampon each time you go. Please listen to me on this.
- Swamp butt.
- You will get blood stained thighs at some point. It’s going to cake onto your skin and make a mess just everywhere.
- The cashier doesn’t care about you buying pads/tampons/etc, they just had a guy buy 4 pounds of carrots, a box of Xtra Large ribbed condoms and cherry scented lube. Your pads are not on their radar of things to care about.
Washing Your Junk:
- When you shower (if you want a bath i’d shower before hand or dont wash in the bath itself and shower after to get clean) remember you are not actually washing inside of your vagina, you’re washing the skin around it (labia, clitoris, all those good bits). Using a soft wash cloth with either very mild unscented soap or just warm water. Seriously, stop putting washing products inside yourself; You do not need to wash the inside of your vagina and doing so can cause infections. Unless given products by your doctor there is no need to douche or use creams or wipes or other stuff like that. They’re lies sold to you to make you think you smell bad.
- You know how your parents said ‘wipe front to back’?Same with washing, you don’t want to drag butt germs all over your vagina. Don’t do it.
- Some people find that trimming, or shaving, their pubic hair helps them control odor, or makes wearing sanitary products more comfortable, but it isn’t required and is personal preference with different individuals. There is no health benefit to shaving or trimming your pubic hair and it will not make you cleaner than if you didn’t shave.
- Wearing light breathable cotton undies during your period will help eliminate odor and not give you swamp butt. Especially in the summer.
- Washing after sex is a great idea and not just because it’s romantic. If you’ve ever had period sex before you will k n o w but if you have not I am going to just ask you to take my word for it and plan a shower afterwards.
Feel free to tack on other stuff if you want. Tell me all your period secrets.
Also: keep in mind that what’s coming out isn’t just blood. It’s also uterine lining. It’s not going to smell like blood and it’s common, especially when it’s heavy, that there will be clots and chunks. These are normal.
You should NOT be experiencing debilitating pain. Cramping, bloating, and general discomfort are expected but shouldn’t be severe. If your period is causing you nausea or vomiting, dizziness, fainting spells, blacking out, or any other severe symptoms that interfere with your day to day life PLEASE reach out to a doctor.
I think @rattlecat made an awesome post about Always infinity pads being way better than regular pads for anyone that suffers heavy flows or prefers pads to other period methods
Pads have the curse of feeling like you are wearing a diaper so this may help people that cannot use anything but pads
(I’m on mobile or I’d find it and link directly. Sorry!)
I am a fan of ‘U by Kotex’ and the ever famous Always Infinity, both of which are often on the cheaper end of the price range and frequently on sale. I have never had an issue bleeding through either and even during times I’ve been unable to change them for way too long (dont judge me it was a road trip) the pad stayed in place the whole time.
On a side note, you can find free samples from just about any pad/tampon company website. I got a pad, tampon, and panty liner trial pack (all in one pack!) from Kotex that I keep in the glove box.
If you’re one of the people that needs to reach out to a doctor, be warned that they may not believe you, especially if you’re under 20. (The number of times I’ve been told I’m overreacting or that it’s normal for things to be “weird” in the first few years of periods or that I’m making stuff up is alarmingly high – I still don’t know what’s going on because of it, and I’ve been trying for years.) Be prepared to fight for it. Find a gynecologist if your default doctor won’t listen to you. Just find out what’s going on and do what you need to to help improve things.
I want to put it out there for young people who may not be used to making their own doctor appointments; you do not need to be referred by your primary physician to make an appointment with a specialist like a gynecologist. You don’t need to do anything other than make the appointment, your primary doesn’t have to be part of that process if you don’t trust them or they aren’t helping you.
If you _don’t_ get your period regularly, or if you get it 4-6 times a year only, see a doctor – you may have an endocrin disorder. Also you can try period panties or menstrual cups – find a solution that works for you!
Adding to this because I nearly died: If you go a long time without having a period, say like, 6 months, IMMEDIATELY go see a doctor. If the lining of your uterus doesn’t shed and just sits there, it cause be a precursor for uterine cancer. Everybody thinks that going to see a OBGYN is super icky and gross but you know what, it literally saved my life.
And my OBGYN, after letting me tell my story and freaking out, said, “okay, this may seem like it’s weird to you, but I literally see this every day.”
Also, if you have any of the above problems, especially pain, and your doctor tries to dismiss them as “lady troubles” and tells you to take paracetomol or painkillers and deal with it, don’t let them overrule and dismiss you you. If it’s that bad, kick up a fuss and make them listen. Take a list of symptoms. Keep a diary of incidents. Make sure they know exactly how bad it is and when. Make it so they won’t try and dismiss it as just period pain.
Wash your hands before inserting tampons/cleaning up/etc as well as after. This probably isn’t a problem for people but I’m forgetful about washing before and I just think it’s important, especially when you’re at work or school or just generally can’t remember where your hands have been since you previously washed them
Be sure to remember that you should never leave a tampon in for more than 8 hours, less if it’s a high-absorbency tampon. Vaginas have a lot of resident bacteria that, under normal circumstances, keeps it healthy and happy, but when you have what is essentially a big reservoir of blood and tissue just sitting there, that bacteria (specifically Staphylococcus aureus) starts to proliferate (breed out of control) and creates infections that can lead to Toxic Shock Syndrome. If you think it’s impossible to forget you have a tampon in, believe me, it’s not (especially when the string gets “lost”). If you have memory problems, or are just really busy and distracted, it can happen. Using reminders on your phone that go off every few hours can be really helpful in making sure you change your tampon regularly.
Hormonal contraception can make periods irregular, and can even stop periods. It can also ease cramps and lessen flow if you feel your flow is too heavy and interferes with life.
You might become anemic when you start your periods. Pay attention to signs of anemia (light headedness and dizzyness for example), and make sure you eat well, including protein.
Related to eating: an eating disorder can also stop your period. So can stress. And like, I know, when your period mysteriously stops, it’s like a gift from the goddess. But it really should be taken seriously. Tell a doctor.
I used to get super, super dry for like a week after my period because tampons absorb EVERYTHING (and we are talking DRY, like too-dry-for-sex-the-lube-it-stings-ow-why-does-this-tampon-HURT dry) but I felt like I didn’t have other choices because my period was too heavy for pads and anything other than the super absorbency tampons for the first three-four days of my period would just squirt out so it was just like big tampons all the goddamned time. But for real if that sounds familiar try a menstrual cup – I have a heavy flow so I empty it every 4-6 hours which leaves me with a very small amount of leakage, I don’t have to worry about the damn thing working its way out, it’s super easy to clean, my periods are actually shorter (three to four days for the WHOLE THING now as opposed to six or seven) AND MY VAGINA IS SO HAPPY <3<3 it’s not dry after my period anymore and extra bonus points a reusable menstrual cup is cheaper than buying literally any other method (~$45 and should last at least 5 years) and produces basically no waste (one shipping box, basically). Like I didn’t want to be one of those folks who got a menstrual cup and then had to start telling everyone how great the menstrual cup is but, everyone, listen, it’s so great.
Also just go out and buy yourself a 5-pack of black underwear right now, there’s always going to be leakage and spotting and staining and if you just wear black undies on your period the stains won’t bother you as much.
OTOH, I used menstrual cups for a few years and then realized that for some reason on my particular body they made cramps much worse. So I can sometimes use them later in my period but not in the first couple days when things are heaviest and most cramped.
I’ve been told I have a tilted uterus, and this apparently sometimes happens to folks who have that.