There are a lot of period pains that we know all too well. Cramps, body aches, fatigue, moodiness— all part of the menstruation machine. However, there’s one period pain that we don’t talk about often, and it’s one that can be difficult for a lot of people— and that’s advocating for your menstrual health!
Simply talking about your period can be a huge pain. It can be awkward and uncomfortable, especially if you’re new to the whole menstruation thing. But learning about how your body works, how to speak up about your cycle, and knowing that it’s okay to talk to a doctor doesn’t just help your menstrual health— it helps your overall physical and mental health too.
Here are 5 ways to start the period convo going, and how to get the ball rolling when it comes to advocating for your health and wellness.
Never shut up about your period!
Talking about your period is super helpful in normalizing your experience. There’s nothing to hide here! If you’re feeling crummy, say it out loud. If you’re PMSing, tell your pals. If you tried out a hot bath to help your cramps, share that too! Talking about your period will get other people talking about their period experiences— and you can learn so much from the people around you!
One thing we suggest trying out is using names like “menstruation” or “period” when talking about your period. Try phasing out language and period euphemisms like Aunt Flo, riding the crimson wave, Shark Week etc. Euphemisms, while fun of course, can sometimes decenter the period experience, and skirts around the fact that Hey, these are real things happening to my body right now! The more we talk about our periods using actual terminology, the more it helps to smash period stigma, and the more it helps us feel more powerful when it comes to our bodies.
Learn about what your body’s “normal" is
Like snowflakes, no two periods are alike. Everyone has a different normal, so take some time to figure out what that means for you! Keep track of your period, when it starts, when it ends, how heavy your flow is, and how you feel emotionally and physically. There are a ton of apps that can help you do this like Clue and Flo.
Learning about your cycle gives you a better understanding of when something feels “off”, different than your normal or more irregular than usual. The more you know about your body, the easier it is to speak to exactly what kind of care you might need.
Find online resources and communities
If you have questions about your own menstrual health, chances are other people your age do too! KT’s blog The Rag has a bunch of period resources to get you rolling, so take a scroll to see if we’ve answered any of your questions already. To get started, you can click here for some info about PMS, and another about mental health on your period.
The internet is an amazing first step and a great opportunity to ask questions anonymously if you’re still getting comfy with the topic. And TikTok isn’t just for making fun of hype houses— there is some really great info on there from medical professionals like gynaecologist Dr. Staci. With deep dives on reproductive and sexual health, doctors like Dr. Staci pass the vibe check and the comments provide mini-communities that make you realize: I’m not the only one!
Be honest and persistent with the adults in your life
Armed with new language, info about your “normal” and new resources online, talking about your period with adults in your life should hopefully start to feel easier. Voice your needs, be persistent if you don’t feel emotionally or physically well during your period or any other puberty changes. These adults don’t just have to be your parents either— if you have a teacher, a relative or a neighbour you trust, that works too. Advocating for yourself and your health is so important, but it helps to have an ally that helps you obtain care if you need it.
Know it’s okay to see a doctor
Seeking medical help isn’t always an option for people. Health care should be accessible for all, but that isn’t always the case— even in our own backyard.
If you do have access to health care, know that talking to a doctor is completely okay and nothing to be embarrassed about. Having a period is tough. Do you have questions about things? Do you need some extra help when it comes to physical or mental symptoms of your cycle? They’ll be able to help you craft a wellness plan and look into your health further.
It’s worth noting that there’s been menstruation stigma for a long time (it’s just a girl thing, don't exaggerate, PMS is just moodiness, cramps aren’t that bad etc), and the healthcare industry is not immune to those types of viewpoints either. Doctors or nurses can be dismissive too, because “women’s” health has historically not been taken as seriously. But there is a TON of great care out there from a ton of great practioners. You know your body best. You know when something isn’t right. And you deserve someone that listens to you!