Exclamation Point!

Once upon a time, I was young, and as part of the process of growing up, I started having a period, periodically.

In fifth grade, we had "the talk" in school.  They sent the boys out to play kickball, and the girls went to the media center for a glorified tampon commercial.  Of course, we had all read "Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret" as a primer, but back then, it was still old enough to reference belts - which had gone by the wayside a decade earlier.  All hail adhesives.  Of course, "wings"  would come later.  All hail wings.

I had my menarche, which is a fancy word for first period, in sixth grade at the age of twelve and roughly one month.  I was not the first of my peers, but I was far from the last.

I also had my first incident of wearing a jacket tied around my waist to hide an errant blood stain that same week.

Periods are awesome like that.

I eventually got the hang of things, and continued on my menstrual journey for another 25 years, give or take.

In college, I learned that the myth that women living together sync up isn't a myth.  I was caught unprepared on campus several weeks early.  I managed to find a dispenser, or maybe I bummed something off a friend,  I don't remember.  But I mentioned it in passing that evening to my roommate, and she sheepishly admitted that her gravitational pull had affected several of her past roommates.  So that happened.  Can you imagine an entire sorority house full of women with mostly the same cycle?  It wasn't pretty.

Then in my 20s, I got on the pill, and that made things regular.

Then in my 30s, I was still on the pill and started having extremely heavy periods - to the point where I was too "anemic" to be a blood donor.   I got off the pill at age 35 because I was afraid of blood clots and stroke.  My periods were worse.  Regular-ish, but worse.  One year, I got a Hello Kitty calendar to track them.

In my late 30s, I got an IUD (intrauterine device).  Primarily for birth control, but also as a way to regulate my crazy body.

Now in my mid 40s, I have my second IUD (you have to re-up every 5 years).  I also haven't had a period in six years.    I haven't had any issues with being a blood donor either.  I find it anecdotal, but worth mentioning that I got my Instant-Pot around the same time.  So, my iron levels are now excellent - due to no blood loss, and excessive consumption of greens and beans.  That's my take on it.

The resources available to a young woman in the mid 1980s were slim.  You couldn't Google a question about why your period would stop for two days, then start back up for another day or so.  Per Google, it's either completely normal, or something that you should tell your doctor about immediately.   Just like every other Google diagnosis.  Sure, there were a few books, but who is going to check those out from the library, or buy one at the local bookstore.  Now you can just download it onto your tablet with no cringey salesperson interaction.

But that's just the start of it.  Did you know that there are period subscription services?  Back in my early days, if I needed more supplies, I would tell my mother while she was busy getting ready for work to stem any awkwardness.  Later on, my father, who did most of the grocery shopping in our home, was delighted to learn that my sister and I preferred "the ones with the pink label".  Honestly, I think it's delightful that Dad was comfortable enough to express that.

But now, there are starter kits, and they send you all kind of supplies, and chocolate, and warm fuzzy socks.

And then, there's the underwear.  Some genius scientist developed underwear that looks, feels and acts like normal underwear, but is leak-proof and absorbs whatever you throw at it.  Where the hell was that stuff when I was freaking out in my wood shop class and just waiting for the damn day to end?

Now, they market this directly to tweens (and their mothers), and they make it seem glorious to be a woman.

Which I guess is good.  The day I got my first, I came home after school, put on a quilted bathrobe, buttoned up it to my neck and was basically mortified and didn't want to talk to anyone about anything.

I'm a feminist, and I am a naturalist.  And so, in theory, I think the human form is amazing and glorious.  I just happen to think mine is kind of a dumpster fire.

This is just something I've been thinking about recently.  I thought I'd share.