Let me first preface this by saying that nothing prompted me to write this article except that I got my period and didn't have any questions to answer for Ask Jack(ie). I am not mad at the male population and did not recently get a weird remark about periods. But I was like, "I bet for most of the male population, the life of a girl on her period is pretty much a mystery." So let me tell them about it.
And maybe, just maybe, people will respond less like this and understand that it is not that weird.
Caution: This may have some info that you think is TMI...
1. The beginning.
One day, it starts. A period. It just happens. Most girls get their periods between ages 8 and 14, but that is a pretty large range. So, it's basically a surprise. Not the kind where you get super excited though. It's like surprise, now you can start having babies! Or be in terrible pain every month. The reactions vary.
Luckily, as time goes on, it turns into more of a routine because we [girls] start to expect our periods. Every girl isn't the same with her periods though. People are unique, periods are unique.
For example, the length of a period. There are regular and irregular periods. Three days, six days, two weeks, it really depends on the anatomy of the person who gets it. However, they normally last three to five days.
Quick side note: Just because girls get periods, does not mean they know everything about them.
2. Why are periods a thing?
This part you can Google.
But basically, our bodies want to prepare us for a baby. Sperm meets egg... You know the story. But when sperm doesn't meet egg and our bodies already prepared for a baby, the unfertilized egg disintegrates, and it, along with the inner lining of the womb, is shed from the body as a mixture of blood and tissue.
3. Is it gross?
Yes. And no. But there is no reason to freak out on someone just because they are talking about their period. It is a thing that just happens. IT IS NATURAL. Like organic fruits. JK... But really, blood comes out of vaginas. It might sound vulgar, but we're all born into this world because of it! It's not something that should cause utter disgust in people. I mean- if you don't like the thought of blood, okay. But I've noticed a lot of people just have this learned trait to go, "Ugh!" And in my opinion, it's an overreaction.
When it's not gross:A) When you're on your period and changing your own feminine hygiene products on the toilet, you have a routine and know what to expect. Sometimes there's a lot of blood, sometimes there's a little. We're prepared for the sight so it's A okay.
B) Talking about periods is not gross. Sometimes girls talk about the "symptoms," a forgotten a pad, their breakouts, etc. They might mention that they don't want to swim on their period or talk about how heavy or light their periods are. In any case, mentioning a small thing to guys about periods also shouldn't be gross.
C) Buying feminine hygiene products is not gross. It is not weird. Some people might get embarrassed about it, but it must be done.
When it is gross: A) If you think seeing someone's pee or poop on a toilet seat is gross, seeing someone else's blood on the toilet seat will probably elicit the same reaction. (I don't know how poop gets on toilet seats, but I've seen it.) As someone who's been conditioned to think of blood as "gross" and sometimes dangerous, I just steer clear of contact with other people's blood.
B) When females are on the toilet changing their "feminine hygiene product," blood is probably still dripping out, so going into a public restroom after someone hasn't flushed is not what I would call beautiful. My reaction to it is normally just--> *momentary stank face* *flushes toilet with foot* *walks away*
CLARIFICATION: That wasn't me being a hypocrite saying that I find period blood gross when guys shouldn't. I should clarify: I just think the way some guys view periods and the people while on them, is too extreme. The idea of periods is different than interactions with blood. I hope that made sense. Example: If you or I are talking about pooping/peeing, it's pretty normal to talk about, but you probably wouldn't want to see/smell/interact with someone else's poop/pee.
4. Blood suckers.
I'm not talking about vampires. I'm talking about pads, tampons, menstrual cups, period panties, you name it. The most commonly used period products are pads and tampons, but there have been so many inventions throughout the years to combat the notorious entity that is, period blood.
Pads. These are things that absorb blood. They are made with an absorbent material on top and a sticky underside. They are normally flat and long. You have to change them throughout the day. They stick to your panties so when you change them, you rip them off, roll them up, and put them in the trash. You sleep with pads on too, but you're not supposed to sleep with tampons on.
Tampons. These also absorb blood. They are placed into the vagina and expand once they get exposed to liquid, a.k.a. the blood in the body. They also must be changed throughout the day.
Just an FYI, they are not cheap!!!! Pads are about $7.00 for a pack of 36, and you might use four to five in a day. That money could've been spent on food. :-(
Quick thinking questions: How do people get feminine hygiene products if they have no money? What happens when they have no access to them?
5. How it feels, random info, and possibly TMI.
Periods are not like peeing. Girls are not in control of what comes out of their va-j-j! So when girls are on their period, every so often blood will just come out. We don't normally feel it either, we can tell something is there, but only after it leaves the body. So it doesn't feel like we're constantly peeing our pants. It would be more like we already did it but don't remember when. (This is when wearing a pad or something like that. Tampons are different.)
Period stuff is not something we can control. It's not like when people have to go to the bathroom but can hold it for a couple hours. Also, period blood mostly comes out like a drip rather than like a stream of urine, or else we would all be wearing diapers.
There is a certain amount of something in you that needs to come out, except that it doesn't come out all at once. So in the beginning of periods, there will be more blood, and then it gradually gets lighter when it's nearing its end. But, it's waiting to come out, so when someone sneezes or coughs on their period, they're probably also feeling some blood rushing out. Or sometimes they'll just feel their period randomly. Lol. That's all.
Hormone levels can fluctuate during the menstruation cycle, so some people might get moody before their period and a couple days into it. Or, the whole time. PMS, premenstrual syndrome, may give those symptoms. Please Google what PMS actually is though, because I'll admit, I didn't even know exactly what it was.
But again, every girl is different! Some might admit their period gets them moody, but please don't assume that girls are being moody or irritable just because they are on their period, or that they must be on their period if they're quickly angered. They might actually just be really PO'd. Give em' credit for their emotions.
Every girl gets different symptoms while on their period. For me, my lower back will hurt and feel really uncomfortable, I'll get bloated and occasionally feel like poo, but it's not debilitating. Others may have severe cramping and feel horrible on their periods. It's really a toss-up.
8. Birth control.
Birth control can be used to control really heavy or irregular periods. That's all. I didn't expect to write that few of words in this section. Ha.
Blood most definitely gets on our clothes. And bedding. Not every time we get our periods, but sometimes it happens. Blood may bleed off a pad, onto underwear, onto pants, then onto a couch, or onto bedding when we are sleeping. However, once it's cleaned up it's not a big deal. Yes, we don't want to ruin fabrics by getting blood on them, but sometimes we can't prevent it.
If you ever see a girl with blood on her pants that doesn't know about it, I think the best thing to do is find a girl to tell her. Just in case she gets embarrassed that a guy who doesn't get periods saw it. If no one else is around, probably just say something like, "..........." I don't know something that would be great. Judge the situation and go from there.
I didn't do my research on this, but my guess is that girls feel slightly, and only slightly, less confident on their periods. (Because I do.) Afraid to walk by someone in case they smell, afraid a stain is on their clothes, afraid to do certain motions with a pad on, afraid of weirdly fitting clothing as a result of bloating... Just my thoughts. But for most of the day it really doesn't change anything else.
11. What it means for life.
For some it means being on birth control for periods, making sure to pack pads or tampons in a bag, going to the bathroom every two to four hours when on a period, sleeping in a weird position, taking longer in the bathroom than "normal," not wearing certain clothes or doing certain things on a period, putting down a towel on the bed to prevent blood from getting on the bedsheets, or keeping track of period schedules on a phone.
Every girl may have a different period, but the commonality is that it's a natural process in place to give people humans like you and me.
Did I just fill you with unnecessary information? Maybe... BUT, I hope this was educational in a way for you to see that periods aren't that gross. The people on their periods are not gross. I know some guys are already super okay with periods and they are very understanding of them, and I know some guys are only disgusted by periods because they have been conditioned to be, so take this possibly new information as you will. But please don't give people looks of utter disgust just because their body is carrying out a natural process. It doesn't feel nice to be the receiver of disgusted looks, even if only for a quick moment.