I started my periods when I was ten, which – 28 years later – seems astonishing. It’s SO young. I was teased at school as I was the first girl in my year to ‘come on’. This phrase makes me shudder even now.
Being blunt, during these 28 years, my periods have evolved into a living nightmare. The nightmare comes from the heaviness of the bleeding as well as the frequency. For a time, they were also really painful but I seem to have recently grown out of that particular phase (I’ve switched to organic cotton tampons which I credit for my new-found lack of pain).
The heaviness of my periods is a MASSIVE issue. Regardless of having a period every three weeks (more on this in a mo) I still don’t prepare for my periods. Which is a bit silly really. Because they are SO heavy that when the floodgates open (sorry) there is little I can do than run to the nearest bathroom, thanking mother earth that I wore black jeans again.
I wear black jeans A LOT. I think now, writing this piece, that my periods are probably why. There is a little voice in my head every morning whispering ‘today could be the day… wear black’. And so I do.
I have often tried to turn my periods into something humorous to make them more… well… palatable. I used to have a joke with my best friend (which came about from a particularly sudden and heavy flow) that coming on my period felt like I had a cap (as in a hat) in my pants. “CAP IN PANTS!” we used to shout gleefully. It didn’t make any sense then and it doesn’t now. But ten years on it still does make me smile.
My periods are also a standing joke between me and my boyfriend. It is guaranteed that I will come on my period whenever we do anything nice together. ABSOLUTELY 100% GUARANTEED. Every holiday, weekend away, wedding, day trip and swim has been marred by the inevitable rattle of my tampon-tin (yes, that’s also a thing in our house) on the morning of said event.
I use the most absorbent tampons that money can buy. I still go through several a day. I think the average is 2-3 tampons in a day. I can easily get through 5-6 super-duper-ultra absorbent ones. Sometimes I put one in and literally 30 minutes later it’s leaking and needs to be changed. They are supposed to last for hours. I can’t remember the last time I used a ‘regular’ tampon – they wouldn’t last 20 seconds. Clearly this makes me ‘irregular’ in the eyes of the big manufacturers. In this instance they are probably right.
Because of the frequency of my periods I have calculated that (based on the average of 20 tampons per cycle, I clearly use way more than this but let’s play it safe) I have used somewhere around 9,750 tampons already during my lifetime. I think this is between 80 – 90% of the average woman’s lifetime use of tampons. I am 38 years old. Have all the chemicals in these tampons caused the pain I felt over the years? Were the cysts removed a few years ago in any way linked? I have no idea. What I do know is that if I am going to bleed this much, this frequently, then I’m not going to take any chances and f*** up my body any more than is necessary. So I’m going to use organic cotton from now on. That’s a promise to my vagina.
Alison, from Bristol.