Having your period can come with an enormous amount of public shame and induced fear. Why is that? When we really think about the amount of time we spend worrying about our periods, attempting to cover them up, and keeping them clean (for a lack of a better word), we only perpetuate discussing the importance of normalizing our periods. On average, women spend 3,500 days menstruating. That’s a long time in a woman’s life, yet, we won’t and don’t normalize the discussion.
An average period releases about a half a cup of blood per period, yet, we aren’t talking about the release, pain, and joy associated with menstruation. Some evidence suggest menstruation may have led to our understanding of time. Many early lunar calendars were based on the length of a woman’s menstrual cycle. That’s just downright awesome! But we won’t add these interesting figures into any ‘normal’ conversation for fear we will gross each other out or bring up a topic otherwise taboo.
We can begin to normalize the ‘period discussion’ by doing two simple things:
Supporting Our Fellow Women
We continue to hear ‘women support women’ and it is the start of a global conversation surrounding women’s empowerment. It’s almost a reality (that we will one day support women regardless of intimidating and discomfort) and could soon be the way we address women upon our first encounters with them. Instead of feeling superior to another woman or criticizing those in person, on the internet or through the dreaded social media, think before you speak. Supporting your fellow woman is not limited to menstruation. It is a product of creating a conversation about women with women. Draw attention to the totally normal process of menstruation and why it is a completely normal occurrence.
Talking about Periods More Often
This one is easy because it requires simply talking. Stop shying away from conversations about your period! Instead of saying ‘let’s not go into that’, welcome conversations where either men or women inquire on the topic of mensuration. On a similar note, when someone does say “let’s not go there”, invite them into the conversation and discuss why it IS okay to get into the specific details of menstruation.
Maybe the simplest way to get the conversation started is discussing your period with a trusted individual. Start with your partner and reduce the awkwardness but coming out and discussing the topic in simple terms.