Following an article by The Guardian about periods and perimenopause, a Maltese woman took to the Facebook group Women for Women to share her personal period experiences and horrors, asking others to do the same.
Though the stories vary wildly, the consensus is clear: we need to speak up about this. Because women experience something that can disrupt their lives, moods and careers every single month for the longer part of their lives.
Joanna Delia took a brave step to break the stigma, detailing her struggles with her period in a post online.
“I got my period at age 9. Until I was 15, I had never had a month without a ‘super bleeder event’.”
“Then, an open-minded gynaecologist convinced my mother that my only chance to get through the end of my adolescence a little less traumatised would be to go on the pill.”
“My natural cycle is 8 bleeding days out of every 21 days. A nightmare. I took the pill religiously until I was 30.”
“When I stopped for the year it took until I got pregnant, I wore black every day. I rushed out of my clinic room to change a ridiculous amount of super plus tampons. I felt faint and weak, as I did as the anaemic child I was from age nine to 15.”
“I had to have my blood checked regularly again. I avoided restaurants with upholstered chairs, especially if they were white. I still move my dress to the side and sit with my bare arse on chairs. I can’t deal with the mess.”
After having children, she decided to get an IUD (intrauterine device) – and it changed her life.
But her own troubles left her wondering:
“Why don’t we talk about periods? Why don’t we talk about our struggles and trauma and the way we survive our embarrassing situations?”
“Why are we not prepared for menopause?”
“We need to talk about this, gals. Please share your experiences.”
A woman responded in the comment section:
“Personally, my forties mean that periods stop my daily routine due to severe migraines, brain fog and anxiety. I struggle to focus and it is impacting my quality of life.”
She continues: “It’s time to let go of what the older generation told us: ‘u ejja it’s just period, get up and go!’ and start taking the rest we deserve and need.”
Another woman commented:
“I still don’t know if it was menopause, but I remember getting very sensitive and upset easily. I remember telling my husband to ignore me, but if I’m having one of those days I just need to be hugged until I calm down.”
“He would hug me, I would cry and then calm down. It was awful. At first I didn’t realise what was happening, but once I did I knew that was not me. Yes, our hormones do play a big part of our life. They can even break us.”
And yet another woman tells the tale of her messy menstruation:
“I had my first period when I was 11 or 12 years old. I always had a heavy period staining my underwear, clothes, bed sheets and the mattress… I was so paranoid and still am to a certain extent, though not as much as I was.”
“When I was in form 2 I had leaked and stained my skirt. I remember I had cried so much out of embarrassment. From that experience I was always paranoid. Thank god at that time we were still all girls, however we did have male teachers.”
“I remember night pads still leaked and gave me a rash until I started using tampons. They were not practical changing around five super plus OBs, not to mention unhealthy.”
“At the age of 17 I started taking the pill, and I am still on it at the age of 26. I changed several brands as some of them put me into a depression to an almost suicidal state, not to mention severe mood swings and the weight I put on with it.”
Someone else opens up about her period pains:
“I can’t remember when I had mine the first time, but I hate it. Always have, always will. I have a nine year old daughter and I feel bad thinking about the insecurities she’s going to have to suffer because of this. I also have two boys and although I find it gross myself I try to normalise it to them.”
These stories are unfortunately not the exception to the rule. This is what 50 percent of our population goes through from their early teens until their menopause. Yet we hesitate to speak up, because menstrual blood is still regarded as gross.
Periods remain a cause of women’s and girls’ embarrassment and shame. We don’t swim, we don’t play sports, and we don’t feel well because of it. We feel insecure, miss out on things and are paranoid because of it.
But no one should be ashamed of a natural process. There will always be blood. We need to break the cycle.
Have you ever spoken up about your menstruation issues? Share your story in the comments to help break the stigma