Did you learn about periods back in school? Probably. And my guess is it was limited to a picture of the reproductive system, and that's about it. We were little kids, so we giggled, because vagina. Teachers talked about eggs and uterine linings and blah blah blippity bloop. But once we "officially" became "women," we realized there was a whole mess of things no one told us about periods as kids.
Periods are still so heavily stigmatized — something we're supposed to keep secret and be ashamed of even though it's nature. They're "gross" and "nasty" and strictly a private matter. As a result, we hardly ever talk about them. Certainly not as kids — when our parents and teachers maybe thought we were too delicate to handle something we were about to start experiencing once a month for the rest of our lives. And they certainly never discussed it with the boys, likely contributing to the idea that periods are gross and nasty and private.
It's gotten old, so let's normalize periods. Let's get real and down to the nitty gritty, because there are far too many period problems we are not sharing with our children and adequately preparing them for. Here are eight things that you probably had no idea to expect.
1You Might Eat Like A Linebacker
I'm not talking about an innocent, "I eat ~so~ much chocolate when I'm on my period. Hehe!" I mean you eat everything that isn't nailed down and you're NEVER SATISFIED. You can put away an entire Chipotle burrito (with guac because who are you kidding?), a bowl of cereal, froyo, two cans of LaCroix, a box of Nerds, and a grilled cheese sandwich, and still be like, "Aight, what else?" You keep searching for that one thing that will finally satisfy your craving, except it never comes. That's because you're craving everything: candy, pizza, sammies, salad, soup, cookies, Thin Mints, your left shoe, a sofa cushion, and the artificial fruit on display at Home Goods.
2You Might Not Eat At All
Because honestly, how could you even think of eating when it feels like someone is driving a Mack truck through your uterus? The mere thought of food makes you want to vomit, except you haven't eaten anything to vomit up, so you get the dry heaves instead. The best you can do is sip Evian and pray for the end.
3Look At Your Boobies The Wrong Way And It'll Hurt
Your boobs are like a period radar: as soon as they start to hurt, you know Aunt Flo's on her way to visit. By the time she arrives, your Golden Globes are rock hard and in so much pain you can't lay on your stomach, make any sudden movements, cough, blink, be awake, or breathe. Even a stiff breeze is enough to send the pain searing through your twins. No bueno.
4"Emotional Rollercoaster" May Be An Understatement
Aw. That's cute. People warned you that you might feel moody. For some unlucky period-havers, moody is an understatement. Moody is putting it delicately. Moody is wrapping a Tiffany bow around the truth and trying to pass it off as something prettier. Let's be real. Every now and then you are going to think it's the end of the world and your life is over and you're hideous and ugly and look like the Michelin mad and then you'll start crying. But you're crying because now you feel amazing and so ~blessed~ for this beautiful life and everybody is your best friend. Calling it a roller coaster isn't exactly accurate. Sometimes your period is more like driving 90 miles per hour straight into a brick wall.
5Your Hormones Actually Fluctuate The ENTIRE Month
Here's the good news: just kidding. There is no good news. Your "cycle" doesn't refer only to the week you're on your period. Your whole life is a cycle. This means your hormones are forever fluctuating — as are your sleeping patterns, emotions, appetite, and sex drive. This might explain why you always feel like humping a tree the day after your period ends. Get used to it.
6Don't Sneeze Too Hard
Not because it could hurt or damage you or make you appear unladylike. It's just that sometimes, when you sneeze too hard, things fly out. I don't want to talk about it.
7Trying To Sleep On The Rag Is An Olympic Event
Sure, wearing tampons to bed sounds like a nice break from period reality, you know you shouldn't leave them in for more than eight hours. That means you're left with a diaper — I mean, an overnight pad. One problem, though: overnight pads don't guarantee 360-degree protection. Sure, they offer extra security because they're longer and thicker. But if it's the first day of your period and the floodgates open, a nighttime pad won't cut it. You'll need about three nighttime pads and a tarp covering your bed.
Add to that the fact that you can't find one position that even remotely relieves the pain radiating through your body, and you've got the makings for a 100 percent sleepless night. Good times.
8Periods Aren't Blue And Tiny Like In Commercials
I can only assume it was someone who had never experienced menstruation who initially said, "You know, red for blood just doesn't bode well for me. Let's make periods blue!" And then we had every tampon and pad commercial ever aired on TV. This was likely in an attempt to make periods seem less intense and extreme, except the problem is periods are intense and extreme.
And let's talk about how these commercials always feature someone pouring a TEENY, TINY BOTTLE of soft blue liquid onto a pad, and the liquid stays perfectly in one spot and never smears or leaks and it certainly doesn't escape outside the confines of said pad and travel down anybody's leg. What a beautiful work of fiction.