Did you hate click on this article? Do you already hate me? If so, I guess I understand. But I would never say that I think other women should like getting their periods —it's just my experience that I generally do, and I think it's time I talked about it.
In pop culture, our periods are portrayed as something awful — debilitating, even — and for some women, they certainly are. But there are also those of us who appreciate getting our periods, or at least enjoy certain silver linings that come along with it. Busting period stigma isn't just about talking about all the challenges menstruation brings; it can also be about celebrating its potential benefits and place in our lives. Menstrual activists around the world are doing everything from freebleeding at marathons, to making art with their period blood, to advocating for an end to a tampon tax. But even if we don't identify as activists, I think one thing all of us can do is fully own and talk about our experience of menstruating, in all its many positive and negative aspects.
Sure, PMS affects me, and I don't always feel like some moon goddess. But here are seven reasons why, in general, I actually really like getting my period.
1. I Didn't Get My Period Until I Was 16
I think the fact that I got my period on the later side has a lot to do with the fact that I still appreciate having my period. By the time I got my first period at 16 and-a-half, I was dying to join the club. I was afraid that something was wrong with me, that maybe I wasn't a "real" woman. By the time I finally spotted, I was excited to see that my body could do what everyone else's seemed to have done years ago, and I think that feeling has stayed with me.
Every month, I feel a sense of accomplishment and relief that my body is able to menstruate, even though I now know plenty of women don't menstruate at all, and are no less female or healthy for it.
2. My Periods Were Extremely Irregular Until Just A Few Years Ago
I think the fact that I've had fewer periods than most 28 year olds is one of the reasons I'm also not so sick of my period by now. When I got my first period at 16, I only got a couple more periods that year. In fact, my periods were so "irregular" that I was put on the Pill at 18 in large part to ensure I was bleeding every month. That gave me a withdrawal bleed, but since I went on and off of the Pill several times throughout my 20s, the amount of "natural" periods I got (AKA ones where I was actually ovulating) could probably have been counted on two hands. Now that I have a non-hormonal IUD and I've been off hormonal birth control for a few years, my body has finally been able to find its natural rhythm. I'm more regular than I've ever been, and it's pretty exciting to be consistently menstruating, all on my own.
I'm sure that if I'd been menstruating regularly for the last 13 years, I might find a little less novelty in the whole thing. But for now, it's nice to know my IUD is working as it should to prevent pregnancy, and that my body is able to ovulate and have a natural cycle.
3. My Periods Are Not So Bad
Obviously, if I had horrendous cramps every month, PMDD, or insanely long and heavy periods, I doubt I'd be so appreciative. While I definitely do get PMS and my periods are on the longer side (generally at least eight days), I'm lucky that they have rarely incapacitated me. I mostly feel the effect of PMS on my emotional state — in general, my period doesn't prevent me from doing anything I would normally do, except maybe push myself too hard at work or the gym (which can actually be kind of nice). I also happen to enjoy period sex, and the head start it gives me on arousal. All in all, it's not so physically uncomfortable for me, and that makes it a lot easier to appreciate.
4. I Like Feeling My Body's "Seasons"
PMS does tend to get me pretty down. Like I said, not to a debilitating degree, but the effects on my self-esteem and anxiety are noticeable. There's a reason for that, and it's not just because I'm feeling bloated. As I've written about before, during PMS and periods, we have lower estrogen and serotonin levels, which often causes our mood to drop.
This drop in serotonin also tends to makes me feel much more skeptical. I want to clean house (literally and figuratively), and evaluate everything in my life. If I had to compare it to a season, my PMS would be the fall. When I finally do get my period, it's winter. I always feel an enormous sense of release and relief when my period comes, and an impulse to hunker down; it's a quiet time when I take care of myself and slow down. When my period ends, I feel a huge surge of energy and excitement akin to spring, and when I'm ovulating, everything feels sexy and exciting, like summer. I like having these seasons to my month, even if the feelings they bring up aren't always fun. It gives a sense of rhythm to my life, and I find all of these moods to be valuable to understanding myself in a different way.
"The dissatisfaction that comes on a monthly schedule is a gift to you," Dr. Julie Holland writes in her book Moody Bitches . "The thoughts and feelings that come up during this phase of your cycle are real; the are genuine. If you're feeling overwhelmed or under-appreciated, that you're taking on more than your partner, or that things are out of balance, chances are it's all true." She suggests you take advantage of this heightened sensitivity and awareness. Which brings me to...
5. I Find It To Be A Useful Time For Self-Reflection & Slowing Down
Like I said, getting my period is like the onset of winter for me. I slow down, cozy up, and treat myself to more comforting foods and other forms of self-care that I might otherwise skip. Sometimes, I need that reason to treat myself, that reminder to take it easy and be gentle.
"PMS [and your period] is a time of psychological inventory, to take stock and make sure you are where you want to be in your life," Dr. Holland writes. "Harness the knowledge you garner when you're more critical, write it down, and put it into action when you're more genteel and diplomatic, as soon as your period ends. Try this for a month or two and see if you don't have some 'new month's resolutions' of your own." While I don't always make a list like Holland suggests, I do find my period to be fruitful time for self-reflection and taking stock of my relationships, work, and even my sadness. It's a sort of fallow feeling, when I lay the seeds for the next spring.
6. It Makes Me Feel Like A Badass
Especially now that I use a menstrual cup for most of my period, I've come to own coming into contact with my blood. I like seeing it measured out, and interacting with my bodily functions without shame or fear. When I dump out a cup, or when my boyfriend pulls out of me, covered in my menses, after some hot period sex, I don't feel ashamed or grossed out by my blood anymore — I feel like I'm a menstruating badass.
I can do my job, work out, have sex, and just generally be awesome even when I'm constantly bleeding. It makes me feel kind of amazed with myself, and proud. The fact that I menstruate every month and am able to ride the emotional and physical waves that come with that is amazing — and I feel all the more powerful for it.
7. It Reminds Me To Check & Use My Privledge
I'm privileged in numerous ways (I'm sure some of you have already been yelling at the computer about this while reading): I haven't had to deal with as many periods as many women my age because I didn't get my period until late and it was irregular for much of my life, my PMS and period symptoms are not debilitating, and most of all, I have access and money to try just about every menstrual hygiene product on the planet.
Most women are not so lucky. Many girls are often encouraged to stay home from school rather than attend schools with unhygienic bathroom facilities; the United Nations reports that only 43 percent of girls in developing nations attend school, partly due to the fact that they don't have the proper supplies for basic period hygiene and/or because of the menstruation taboo itself. When I buy a pair of THINX and part of the proceeds go to changing that, or edit articles about badass menstrual activists, or write pieces that educate women about their cycles, I'm trying to do my small part to change that — but it can never be enough. Access to menstrual hygiene products — and not being shunned for bleeding — should be everyones' right. But somehow, it still isn't.
I feel lucky to be able to break the period taboo and that I am not only able, but encouraged, to write and talk openly about my period. The more I learn about how much work we still have to do for menstrual rights, the more I appreciate the fact that I can have my period in dignity and peace. Every month, I get a reminder to do what I can with my privledge to help other women access that same right.
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Images: Rachel Krantz/Bustle; Giphy