FRIDAY OPEN THREAD: It’s Time to Talk About That Time of the Month

It’s that time of the week, and for this Friday Open Thread we’re talking about that time of the month! Yay periods! Laneia’s reviewing the XO Flo Mini today and it got some staff members talking and giggling about our period practices and experiences. It felt freeing to share openly with friends about the elements I use to cope with the crimson tide and the times my cup has failed me in dramatic ways. So freeing that I decided you all deserve the chance to gush about it too!

One of the many shitty consequences of the patriarchy is the fact that it’s still pretty taboo to talk about periods. I’ve literally seen the color drain from people’s faces when I’ve mentioned that I’m on my period / had an accident / use a cup, etc. It’s like I’ve broken some sacred societal vow of silence that I don’t remember taking and honestly, it pisses me off. The practice of expecting people with periods to have them but never speak about the physical and / or hormonal changes our bodies go through regurlalry for the majority of our lives is, quite frankly, oppressive. It allows for the view that there are things about us that are dirty / othering and unimportant. As long as that view persists in the minds of the old straight white men that insist on policing our bodies without even knowing how they work or caring about how we experience life, things will never change. We have to talk about it loudly, gladly, and boldly ’til all the secrecy and shame surrounding periods is dismantled, and what better place to do that work than here chatting amongst our beautiful friendly queer selves?!

Let’s share our joys, concerns and confusions regarding menstruation. Have you figured out the perfect tea blend for calming cramps? What period products do you use or recommend and why? Have you tried those Thinx undies we’re all curious about? How does having or not having a period affect your relationship with your body? Anyone out there making period related art or magic? What are your hormones’ favorite foods? How was / is your education around periods? Are you someone with PMS, PMDD, endometriosis, or something else along those lines that needs a space to unload about your experience? Do it here! I wanna hear about your funny periods, your hardest periods, your post pregnancy periods, your first period – all the periods! Sharing your stories and advice is bound to be incredibly helpful to someone out there looking for guidance and a stronger connection with their body and flow, and that’s a wonderful gift. Let’s change period culture one comment at a time!

And if you don’t have anything to say about periods? Tell me about your week. You know the drill – everything is welcome here!


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Reneice Charles is a just another queer, liberal, woman of color using the Internet to escape from reality and failing miserably. She received her MSW from New York University and is an Entrepreneur and Vocalist living in Los Angeles. She spends her spare time wishing she didn't have to use her spare time convincing people that everyone deserves the same basic human rights.

Reneice has written 65 articles for us.

153 Comments

  1. Unrelated to periods, but thanks for reminding me how important Evan Rachel Wood Bisexual as a vampire was to my burgeoning queerness. Pretty sure that and Thandie Newton are the only reasons I’m still watching Westworld.

  2. When I got my second period, my mom sat me down so we could both read about periods and puberty aloud. It wasn’t embarrassing and she had mentioned that I would soon get one. But the reason she had the period talk with me on my second one was simple: I hid my first period. I was ashamed when I got it because I honestly thought it was poop. It was brown and kinda smelly and I didn’t get what I had that in my panties seeing how I always made sure to wipe! But it was just this weird thing in my underwear for a couple of days that I managed to forget. Until it happened again the following month and mom was luckily on her day off so I called her to the bathroom and she hugged me.

    I got angry that the women in my family made a fuss about it. They’d congratulate me on becoming “a señorita” and I got furious that they would congratulate me on something that required no effort or trying on my part AND I got furious that they even knew about it in the first place.

    Over time, my periods have gotten worse. I’m regular and that’s a comfort I guess, even if I haven’t had sex with a partner who could get me pregnant in over two years, so there’s a moment every month when I wonder what’s the point as I rinse my menstrual cup and shove it back in again. My periods have gotten painful. I get sore boobs a couple days after ovulation and then I’m just a big ball of discomfort and pain until the day my period goes away. I sometimes get nauseous and lightheaded from my cramps, but I really don’t want to get on birth control pills to make it “better”. I’ve had bad experiences with birth control and don’t want to cycle through pills until I find the one that has less side effects.

    As I type this I’m on my 4th day, and I’m breaking in a new cup that I really like, so everything’s starting to look up. Maybe it has something to do with being on the southern hemisphere and spring finally starting. Today is sunny, I’m wearing clothes I like and I listened to Dirty Computer on my walk to work. Happy Friday, everyone!

    • I felt the same way when I got my period in terms of all the “you’re a woman now” comments. I knew they were coming so tried to avoid it but just writing “I got it” on a post it note when I got home from school the day I got my period. Hoping that would communicate i didn’t want to talk about it. My mom got it, my aunt however did not. Still mortified to this day!

      • Now that I’m my best friend’s daughter’s Auntie, I think I’d almost feel betrayed if my friend didn’t tell me my niece got her period (she’s 5 so it’s not something on the table, but I know the time will come). So I get it, but I still feel like I wouldn’t let the poor child know I know. We’d just want to process and hug, and drink wine while lamenting the pass of time and the existence of periods altogether.

        But I remember the cleaning lady at my abuela’s work congratulating me on my period and that’s just…. BOUNDARIES, PEOPLE

    • I’m loathe to give unsolicited advice, but I know how awful it is to have nausea with periods and not want to go on hormonal birth control. I can’t recommend enough taking magnesium glycinate supplements and drinking raspberry leaf tea. I used not to be able to get out of bed and would black out from the pain, but now I can have a normal day when my period comes around. The Period Repair Manual was a great resource for me.

    • This is really interesting, I can’t even remember how this happened when I was young. But I have always wanted to make it a positive thing for my daughters, like I’ve heard about giving a special piece of jewelry or something. It didn’t occur to me that they might want a parent to leave them completely alone about it.

      • Being a teen is weird and makes you cranky, and everything’s just confusing. So sometimes acts of love from parents are not seen as such. Experiences vary greatly from teen to teen, so I’m sure you’ll manage to find a nice way to do something special without overwhelming them!

  3. I have endometriosis which is complicated! But honestly the worst part is that, as you said, people make you feel weird for talking about it. Which only makes it harder for you to figure out how to best deal with it and make yourself comfortable. Anyway, I’ve found that pineapple can help a bit with terrible cramps. And spinach too. But don’t go overboard with those because I did and then got kidney stones haha. It’s all a balance!

    • I talk about periods so much I sometimes feel it’s the only thing I talk about. But it’s so freeing to be honest about why I’m cranky or why I took a day off. Complaining and being open makes managing the pain better, I find. And if a guy is uncomfortable, well, let’s say that’s a bonus. I’ll try the pineapple and spinach!

    • I have endo too and I’ve had to skip school/work cause my cramps were so bad I couldn’t stand up…and every single time I say something vague like “oh I have a stomach bug” or something cause I’m in a male-dominated field and hoo BOY is that a can of worms I do not want to open.

      (I’m running out of excuses – I mean you can’t have a stomach bug every single month that’s just suspicious – so if anyone has any ideas throw them at me!)

      I’ve had some success with spinach – I’m guessing it’s the iron and folic acid? but don’t quote me on that. I’ve also been experimenting with CBD and had some success – when I’m in my home state I smoke a high-CBD low-THC strain of pot and when I’m away I take CBD oil mixed into whiskey.

      Also, ginger tea and/or crystallized ginger are VERY good if you get super nauseous from the pain (which I do! sometimes so much so that I throw up my painkillers which absolutely defeats their purpose!)

  4. I’m trans femme so I don’t have much to say about periods. I’ve been informed by some cis work-friends that this is a blessing. I normally don’t say anything in response (bc their input tends to come out of nowhere and I sometimes regret coming out to a few people at work), but I am always thinking something like “OK sure but dysphoria sucks.”

    With that said, a thousand curses to the patriarchy. I just wanted to say that. I’ve had an unfortunate week. My normally somewhat reasonable boss has been in his “I’m always right, and if I’m wrong, go back to step 1” mood. It’s grating. He isn’t always right at all, and I feel like he especially isn’t right when he’s wearing his +1 Cloak of Infallibility. I had to tell him he was wrong yesterday, and it was like running into a brick wall. The fact that it was in the middle of our open office layout? My social anxiety went off the charts. I was sweating so much that it felt like I was giving the floor a salty shower.

    Anyway, what I’m really here to ask for is book recommendations. After a ten year period of depression that pretty much killed my interest in a lot of things, I’m back to reading again. I’m currently reading a steady diet of feel good straight romances, somewhat guiltily. More importantly, though, I’m looking for more books like The Last Place You Look by Kristen Lepionka. I read it, then the sequel, then a couple other things… And I still seek mysteries, written by women, with unconventional lead characters. Anyone that can give me new books to read is a saint. :3

    • I have tons of book recommends!
      Claire North, AKA Catherine Webb, has a book called Touch you might really like. All her stuff is great, actually.
      The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker is an unconventional love story/mystery.
      Land of Shadows by Rachel Howzell Hall starts a great LA detective series.
      N. K. Jemisin writes high fantasy romance drama with some mystery in it, try The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms if that doesn’t scare you!

    • Second the NK Jemisin recommendation, her other series are good too. I also love Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God is really good. Ash by Malinda Lo is a quick read but fun. Anything by Barbara Kingsolver. So Lucky by Nicola Griffith. DM me if you want more recs, I got lots. 🙂

      • Omg… I’ve got books for DAYS! I’m such a happy bookworm. Amazon’s auto recommend is so useless compared to just this one thread alone. Thank youuu!

        Also, shout out for Terry Pratchett, I love the witches and have a soft spot for Sam Vines.

        Wait… How does one dm on this site? XD

        I’m actually terrible with web interfaces despite having worked in IT, hahaha.

        • Have you tried the Overdrive/Libby app for library books? I love that thing! Also openlibrary.org is a fantastic repository of out of print books and random sweet reads. I found half of the Joan D Vinge series Psion, the second book of which, Catspaw, is one of my favorite books of all time.

        • Up at the very top on the right in small font there is “About, Shop, Members, Support Us.” Under “Members” is “Private Messages.” You have to remember to check them though, there’s no obvious notification that I have seen. I will send you one now. 🙂

    • Yikes your boss sounds like such a douchebag I’m sorry 🙁 I study/work in a field where I frequently have to deal with people like that and it’s never pleasant, and I hope you got a chance to do something nice for yourself this week!

      For “mysteries written by women” I will ALWAYS recommend pretty much anything by Gillian Flynn or Megan Abbott, and the Dublin Murder Squad series by Tana French (can be read in basically whatever order you like – I started with The Secret Place cause I have a soft spot for prep school drama).

  5. I’ve always been grateful that I come from a culture where the first period is something to be celebrated. When I got mine at 13, I immediately told my mom and she immediately told all my female family members like my aunts, grandmother, etc. I was given special bangles and a dress (green, to symbolize fertility which is…yucky in it’s own way but was never sold to me as “Time to have kids now!”), and my mom kept asking if I needed anything, if I was in pain, etc.

    Was it EXTREMELY embarrassing as a surly teenager to have your mom yell through a crappy international phone connection “Your granddaughter is a woman now!”? I wanted the earth to swallow me whole. But in hindsight, I love it. I never had that shame and I always felt like I could talk about my period with my mom (I still complain to her about cramps all the time). That’s probably why I’ll freely tell anyone I’m on my period now lol.

    • It’s funny I was just responding to another comment where they said they were embarrassed by the family announcement of having gotten a period and I felt similarly but reading this i’m like NO! I Shouldn’t have been embarrassed! It IS something to be celebrated…but also it kinda sucks haha. I guess its just another way that periods/our feelings around them are complicated.

      • I think when you’re a young kid, any attention being directed at you by your parents like that is very embarrassing, even if it’s well-intentioned. And I know at least I was very private so the thought of my family knowing and talking about something personal was super embarrassing. It’s inevitable that kids are going to be embarrassed by things their family does, I think.

        • ALSO I very much enjoyed in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before when the dad (who’s an ob-gyn) has a conversation about periods with one of his daughters. It’s a minor moment but it was very cute and normalized menstruation. Plus he later gives the main character, a different daughter, condoms and talks about safe sex when he thinks she might hook up with her “boyfriend”.

  6. Has anyone else experienced period changes as a result of being in a relationship? When I was single I used to have trouble tracking when my period would start because of how little I felt my body change. Since u-hauling with my wife, my breasts will increase quite drastically in size about a week before my period, and I become more emotional and usually weepy two days before my period starts. Bodies are weird.

    • I haven’t been in a stable relationship for so long *upside down emoji* BUT I have gotten increasingly worse pms symptoms in the last two years, and some friends have had the same experience. One of their ob-gyns said it had to do with a late 20s/early 30s hormone revolution our bodies go through, so maybe it’s more age than partner related? I’ve no idea how old you are, but that’s something to keep in mind!

  7. My period has always been irregular (symptom of my endocrine condition) and so it strikes at the most inopportune times. It cycles through regularity for a few months and then goes AWOL for half a year and then returns twice or more in a month. Basically it is not a fun time. Anyway, last night I was super happy for going to bed early even though I have no obligations today. I have been trying to maintain my sleep schedule. So I went to bed early, tossed and turned for hours, falling in and out of wakefulness, having deeply disturbing, vivid and intense dreams that are akin to fever dreams and which I often seem to get around my period. I wake up at 12pm having slept through three alarms set for 7-8am, with a headache from hell due to sleeping through two medication slots and covered in my own blood. Fun times. I would like to return my womanhood membership please and Thank you.

  8. My week has been pretty invalidating, in the “does the person I know myself to be even exist outside of my own imagination” kind of way. I did have a whole half a second of being unexpectedly seen the other day, though, when a handsome butch clocked me in the store and winked at me.

    I got some new-to-me photos of my [very unfeminine tomboy] grandmother, and in a few of them she’s posing rather tenderly with a feminine young woman no one seems to know the name of…

    …but they are notably close and much more physical with each other than my grandmother and her favourite sister (or anyone else) are in photos from the same time.

    So, I asked my mother about it and the closest she got being able to identify the young woman who appears in so many pictures was “a friend”, but she could tell me it wasn’t Auntie So-and-So, because this was earlier. Auntie So-and-So, whom I’d never heard of, was apparently my grandmother’s very close friend from before she married my grandfather and whom she just happened to name her firstborn after.

    And I can’t stop seeing queer conspiracies everywhere.

  9. I have an IUD and it made my periods heavier and my cramps much much worse, but everything has finally started to calm down… The year it’s supposed to be taken out 😐 it’s been ten years so maybe my body is slow to adjust?

    This definitely falls into the category of things I feel like I can’t talk about: I need to decide if I want to get them to put another IUD in when they take this one out, but I’m not sure if I’ll be sleeping with people who could get me pregnant. Because it’s nonhormonal, there are no benefits aside from preventing pregnancy, as far as I know. But that is a very convenient backup if you do sleep with people who can get you pregnant.

    I’m also trying reusable pads at the moment and I’ve used them for 3 months but they’ve leaked a couple of times. I would like to switch over to them entirely but not if they leak more often that disposable ones. There are bigger ones than the ones I’ve got, but they’re just longer, and I’m not sure if that would help with leaks. Anyone have experience with them?

    • I also have an IUD and need to decide whether or not to get a new one. Although my IUD (mirena) has had the opposite effect as yours. Before the IUD, I was on the pill for about 10 years with heavy flow, cramps that stopped me in my tracks, nausea, and lots of tears. With the IUD, I no longer get periods. Zero cramping, zero mood swings, zero bleeding. Which has been amazing but also kind of unsettling. Do I even have emotions without a constant stream of estrogen?? Who knows! I feel flattened. I’m considering switching back to the pill because the state of my insurance stability is not great (IUDs are very expensive without it), I have had 3 ovarian cysts in 4.5 years, and I experience vaginal dryness that makes me feel strangely self-conscious. I’m not sure I want to go back to crazy periods but also cysts are painful and capitalist america unfortunately rules my reproductive choices/lack thereof.

      I wish you the best of luck with your decision– I’m sure you’ll make the best one you can! And I hope you hear from someone who has more info on reusable pads.

      • Thanks!

        I’m sorry to hear about your flat moods and other symptoms. Are the cysts and dryness associated with either IUDs or Mirena specifically? I would check out whether estrogen in general might affect your mood and cysts.

        I hope you can find something that’s affordable and doesn’t cause you any extra issues.

        • I’ve done some digging and cysts are often associated with IUDs (both mirena and copper) AND are often treated/prevented with estrogen. Decreased estrogen levels are also associated with dryness. But individual differences are a huge
          factor too. So maybe I am prone to developing these things and my relatively lower levels of estrogen are triggering/amplifying. I feel like the only way to know how estrogen is affecting my mood is to try it *shrug*

          Thanks! I do too!

    • Good luck with the IUD. They terrify me, but intellectually I understand they are a very good choice. I went to the doctor 3 times to get one put in and couldn’t handle it each time and never ended up getting one.

      For what it’s worth I’ve only had one partner who could get me pregnant and we have been together and monogamous for 10 years. I’ve never been on hormonal BC or had an IUD but have only gotten pregnant very intentionally. I’ve been pregnant several times and have two babies- but that’s due to a genetic issue and not birth control.

      I use cloth pads- I can’t stand disposable! Although I am 5 weeks postpartum and just in the past few days able to go without a pad so disposable have been nice to use on and off while I’m out in public bathrooms. Glad Rags are my favorite as far as the feel of the flannel but I have had some leak issues. I love Party in my Pants for cute prints and they have some waterproof lining and tons of sizes to choose from but they are $$. I bought some from some Chinese company on amazon for postpartum time and they have worked really well although I couldn’t tell you the brand, I just went with reviews.

  10. OMG that image! Such an inspired choice!
    Anyway I have recently found out that people throw period parties now. It’s a thing with teenagers, they eat red velvet cake and drink beet juice and talk about their feelings. All I got was a pack of Maxi Pads and an awkward talk with my grandma and my mom…

  11. I had PMDD for the last few years. Two weeks out of every month I’d be an entirely different person and dealing with the extremes of emotion was exhausting. Interestingly it only became a problem while I was taking antidepressants for anxiety for four years. Since I stopped taking those earlier this year I’ve been much more mentally stable and it’s like regular PMS emotions now and easily manageable. But antidepressants are often prescribed for PMDD so I’d love to know how they’ve affected other people, good or bad.

    I wish I could give my uterus away to a good home, it’s useless to me and I hate that no contraception I’ve tried so far has got rid of all my period problems without giving me others.

    • “I hate that no contraception I’ve tried so far has got rid of all my period problems without giving me others.” THIS is the exact reason I stopped using contraception. Even though my cramps are terrible for a day without it, the trade off (mood swings, nausea, exhaustion) weren’t worth it for me.

    • “Two weeks out of every month I’d be an entirely different person and dealing with the extremes of emotion was exhausting.” –THIS!!!!

      I’m currently rounding the bend for the Bad Half of the Cycle, but I’m cautiously optimistic. For the last three months, on the suggestion of healthcare folks, I’ve been slightly increasing my dose of anti-depressants from the midpoint of my cycle. The first month was no different, the second month was a lot smoother–so I’m curious to see what happens this time round.

      It’s really interesting to hear about your exprience with the anti-depressants seeming to cause your PMDD, though. I’ve definitely suspected some sort of interaction between anti-depressants, hormones and various hormonal contraceptives… but it’s seemed really complex and slippery.

      For me the worst thing was doctors refusing to listen and to understand that my concern wasn’t mainly with contraception. I’ve finally found a doctor who is capable of listening, and I just wept with relief. She’s a fucking rockstar of human decency and compassion, and even though I’m angry that we don’t have better research on this shit, it helps to feel like this doctor cares and hates those inadequacies too.

    • I’ve had a similar experience with PMDD and antidepressants. I’ve been on all sorts of birth control since I was a teenager, because they are allegedly supposed to help with PMDD, but I always felt like that they made things worse. I eventually stopped taking hormonal birth control and switched to a non-hormonal IUD and started taking a cocktail of antidepressants. Those helped for a while, but then PMDD came back with a vengeance. I explored other treatment options, but my doctor would not even entertain the idea of a hysterectomy, despite my ardent assurances that I have no intention of birthing children.

      It was only a few months ago when I was suicidal for the 6th cycle in a row that I decided to stop taking antidepressants. It probably isn’t advisable to stop meds cold turkey without physician assistance, but in the moment it felt like a life or death decision. I can’t say for sure if it is this sudden change in brain chemistry, but these past few cycles haven’t been so bad. I still get swollen and tender breasts, heavy bleeding, and terrible cramps, but at least I feel like myself and don’t engage in self-harm.

      I too would love to give my uterus away to a good home!

  12. A friend of mine has made some BEAUTIFUL period blood art using my blood and blood from friends! I have a glorious painting of an angry swan in the blood of my bff, and she has a ouroboros (snake eating its own tail) in mine! Wish I could share photos but I’m on my work computer and I’m 100% not uploading them here 😉

  13. I’ve had fibroids and anaemia. Currently on medication again for anaemia and having to go for other tests for the reason why. I’m sure it isn’t what they think and it is probably menstrual related. And I’m fairly sure I’m pre-menopausal as well. I hate the whole thing, always have, always been painful but not ever found anything that helps. Being allergic to aspirin and ibuprofen doesn’t help as paracetamol just doesn’t cut it. I also got hormone-related migraines which suck, especially as I’ve now started getting light disturbances as a precursor. I thought I was dying the first time that happened.

    Have never wanted kids and pretty much hate all the crap I have to deal with just for being female.

    • I have been talking about my period more the last year than the previous 25 combined!! It’s been awful, but on the plus side, by complaining about issues, I have helped two other women at work also get help from their doctors. I feel very good about that.

      I have always have debilitating periods, since I was 12, where I’d almost pass out from the pain when it came on day 28. And alas, especially when I was young, it did often. I’ve had to schedule my life around my periods, but I didn’t know how much worse it could be. A few years ago, I started bleeding long and heavy. Finally went to the doctor, who put me on birth control to stop my periods, but all it did was make them longer and heavier. As did the next two tries. Doc and gyne recommended myomectomy for a badly placed fibroid and I fought for an ablation,too. They resisted because I didn’t have kids. I fought harder. They agreed—though I got asked again when we were both gowned and wheeling me in. And then it didn’t work anyway, so we scheduled a hysterectomy. Which I wanted in the first place, but they thought I was too young. But now I get it. I have mixed feelings with a healthy dash of yay. Any advice as I prep for it?

      • No experience whatsoever specific to that procedure, but from general experience with the medical field, do you have a trusted person who can accompany you, understand exactly what your wishes are, and advocate for you even if you can’t right in the moment? Ask important questions, understand the answers well enough to know if they need to press for follow-up, etc.?

        Good luck, I hope you get the results you want and all the support you need during recovery.

      • I’m likely a good bit older than you but had a full Salpingoeufrectomy and Hysterectomy in 1994 after years of menstrual horror. Including fibroids, blinding migraines, fainting etc, etc adnausium. Eventually I found a gynaecologist who listened and agreed to perform the procedure.
        Recovery was quite quick and not overly painful though I did need the full six weeks of leave from work. That may be shorter now depending on how your surgery will be performed.
        Your age may influence how you feel about it. Also your ideas and feeling about kids.
        My feelings only ever revolved around relief in that I knew that I’d never have to spend emotional time dreading an almost permanent period and all of the gory painful horror that went with it.
        I have never regretted having the surgery, only having to wait till I was in my fourties before anyone would take me seriously.

        I hope that you are happy with the decision that you make. My own opinion rests firmly in the “nothing is worth all of that menstrual misery that I would probably have had to endure another 10 years of without the surgery.”

        • Shez, maybe we should swap doctors. I’ve got fibroids and my doctor really really really wants me to have a hysterectomy, to the point where it’s hard to get her to talk me through my other options. I’m currently having injections that are like a chemical menopause, so I’m also on HRT. Which is, for me, better than a hysterectomy.
          My mum told me that when she had a hysterectomy (also because of fibroids) once she’d recovered from the surgery itself she didn’t have any other ill effects. It didn’t give her menopause or mess with her hormones. She went through menopause later and she said it was exactly the same as her friends’ menopauses apart from she’d already stopped having periods.
          Good luck with the surgery.

  14. I am a blissfully forgetful person about my own shark week, and it is *very* inconsistent about warning signs, but this past A-camp I made a friend who’s a day or two ahead of me and has been giving me advance warning since May, which is FANTASTIC!

    (For me, I am the one benefiting here)

  15. In elementary school, the girls were given this groovy Modess sanitary pad people informational booklet/sales brochure:

    I studied it and learned all about eggs, and fallopian tubes and such. Never figured out how the sperm got into the story, and my mother told me I was too young to know. I’m still waiting on the sex talk.

    My thrifty mother had me use her leftover (pre-hysterectomy) pads and belt. It was very low on the fun-meter.

  16. Here’s a handy tip: If you are going to an event and want to sneak contraband in, bring a tampon and go to a male guard. When he wants to see what’s in your pockets (this won’t work with purses, of course), pull out the tampon and the frisk will be immediately OVER.

  17. Been off birth control for two years because 1) Didn’t need it, wasn’t in a position to risk pregnancy, and 2) I wanted to see what it was like to have a period that wasn’t mediated by medicine. I’d gone on the pill in the first place because once in high school I had a three-week period.

    Turns out I don’t have a cycle, and my menstrual life has been chaos, but I kind of love it. Once every couple of months I have a day where I have to slow down because of cramps and bleeding, then the rest of the period is light and chill. It keeps me grounded in my body.

    Now I’m dating someone who can get me pregnant, which I extremely don’t want. I’m exploring Nexplanon, which will cause my periods to regulate and possibly even disappear. My safety and health matters far more than romantic notions of being ~natural~, but I still feel a little sad.

  18. I’ve just popped in to say that trans girl periods are weird and it’s sometimes tricky to tell whether it’s my period coming or whether I shouldn’t have eaten an entire box of Poptarts in a single sitting (or maybe both?)

  19. Got my first period when only my dad was home. He handled it very calmly and kindly but I was mortified. Had the same “few months here, skip half a year, two months, skip nine months” fuckery that Ása reported, got put on birth control for that with no discussion of any reason why it might be happening or what the long-term effects of birth control on a developing body/mind might be. Tried getting off bc after a couple years to see if my body had, as my gyno promised, “figured things out.” Nope. Wound up bleeding nonstop for most of a summer internship on a remote site during college. No car, told my boyfriend but wasn’t about to tell my bosses (or my parents since they would have insisted on coming to get me at least for a doc appt and I wasn’t about to be that frail frivolous hysterical girl who couldn’t work because of her period, nosir not me!). Finally saw my gyno after the internship was over, he said different parts of my uterine lining were on different schedules so I just never got a break. Got a honking huge progesterone pill to make me shed everything then back on bc. This story tells a lot more about misogyny to me now than I realized at all at the time. Damn lucky it wasn’t anything worse, if it had been cancer or something and I’d left it to spread all summer I could have died because I didn’t want to embarrass myself.

    Cramps mostly enough to be annoying and make me low-energy but not usually worse, except for about four or five times in my life when they’e been utterly debilitating, no idea what triggered those times but holy cow all my sympathy to those who have that every time! First day always the worst.

    No period while I was pregnant or nursing…wouldn’t recommend those for period prevention but as a silver lining that was awesome. 🙂 (Red lining? …nah)

    Went back on hormonal bc after nursing was over, and I have no idea if this was a real change or merely me finally clueing in, but at that point I would have a very consistent pattern of mild breast swelling/tenderness and increased libido in the one to two days before. I think the latter symptom was actually just my brain going “Slight swelling below decks? We must be horny! Arr, mateys! Hoist the flag and prepare to do some boarding!” Then the night before, I’d have more vivid dreams than usual and generally the last before waking would involve blood flowing in some fashion. More than once that was what clued me in that it was time.

    Currently on an IUD. Periods rapidly decreased to very nearly nothing on it. I *slightly* miss the sense of monthly body awareness and especially the dreaming bit ’cause I thought that was damn cool, but not nearly enough to want the rest of it.

    I never have figured out what relation my moods, particularly depression/anxiety etc., have to my hormonal cycle. I don’t think I ever got particularly irritable – partially naturally but maybe also because I was so determined not to embody that PMS stereotype. Internalized misogyny for the win again! Clue sounds like a really good idea and I would be totally tempted except now half the time I don’t even realize it’s that time.

    Ritual: My mom always used to have a glass of wine on her bad-cramps night and I liked that, so I did a monthly wine-and-chocolate evening on mine. Slightly miss that ritual, but since I can always do it anyway without the cramps, not too much! Other than that just taking it easy especially the first day. Those few awful times, that got upped to “take ibuprofen, go to bed in fetal position huddled around a heating pack, endure, eventually fall asleep for five or six hours, then wake up with things downgraded to merely very bad cramps.”

    Always used disposable pads. Tried tampons once (when my ex-husband suggested maybe it would help me enjoy sex more! ah gods where do I start…saddest thing is he was genuinely trying to be helpful), hated them, have tried a couple other times with more success but they’re still not my thing.

    My mom taught me to keep the used pads rolled up in their original wrappers (sealed in a ziploc bag “to keep the smell contained”) hidden under my clothes in my dresser drawer and then put the bag at the bottom of the trash at the end of the period. Now I think WTF? If you just, you know, throw the damn things away, they don’t stink up the place at all, and who cares if someone sees a pad in the trash? But a bunch of them stuffed in a sealed ziploc bag, which you then have to open to stuff another one in? It’s like she thought “How can I teach my daughter that periods are a disgusting shameful gross thing to keep hidden?” except I know she wouldn’t have.

    In another year or two I’m totally sending my daughter here and to that other roundtable. So thank you everyone for sharing. Here’s to our kids having healthier brains than we do!

  20. Once when I was like 8 my friend and I saw a machine in the bathroom that said “feminine napkins” and we didn’t know what that meant so we got one (did we pay a quarter? was it free? I don’t remember) and a huge pad came out and we panicked and tried to shove it back inside the machine like we were going to get caught with contraband.

    I have always had pretty painful periods, but one of my worst in recent memory was today! Thank GOD I didn’t teach today because I could not stand up this morning and still, at 9pm, feel like I could throw up.

    Which makes me miss my dad, oddly! Because whenever my sister or I needed pads he’d go get them and bring back my favorite chocolate ice cream too. But alas, he is 7000km away and they don’t sell Phish Food here in Franceland anyway. I miss 24h acess to ice cream. Le sigh.

    Periods are also extra hard here too because it makes it super extra obvious how not at all nurturing my GF is. Which is such a contrast to the family life I’m used to.

    On the bright side, since I started using Clue to track them, I’ve finally understood that my cycles aren’t THAT erratic, they are just short-ish. Everyone calls it your “time of the month” so I’d think, “Ok, it was the 5th this month” and then when it happened on the 30th of the SAME MONTH instead of the 5th of the next I’d think, “Ok, my cycle is wild and unpredictable!” but actually it is fairly consistent if you expect it every 24-26 days. HUH!

    Clue also helped me become more aware of how I feel before my period. I almost don’t use Clue anymore because I’ve learned to recognize the physical/emotional signs… changes in my appetite, bloating, etc. Basically I could probably just listen to Amy Winehouse singing “Back to Black” live every day and I would know how far off my period is based on whether or not I end up sobbing about how she died so young.

  21. Does anyone else get insatiably horny the few days before your period? Of all my symptoms this one is the hardest to deal with cause I spend literal days being unable to focus on anything but having as many orgasms as possible. It sounds like a great thing but really its just annoying to never feel satisfied. I burnt out one of my vibrators once in a pre-menstrual marathon!

    • Yes but also – 1 of many important research sturdies I need science to hurry up and do – do any bi people find their attractions vary depending on when in the month they are? I mean I am running fairly anti-men at the moment anyway, but I definitely have noticed in the past that my gayness varies depending on my cycle. Which would make sense if my hormones were pushing me to breed etc.

      • I know I do.
        During the opposite of menstruation time[I KNOW the actual word it happens to be TRIGGERING to me so please don’t try to “teach” it to me PLEASE] I notice men more than usual and they smell good, like I want rub my face on their necks like a cat while koala attacking/pythoning their torsos.

        Also TMI?? Opposite of menstruation time is a very good time to try fisting because things have more give and lubrication, menstrual blood isn’t as good as a lubrication for fisting(pretty good for PIV tho) andddd hormone levels make things tighter.

    • More like ferociously horny and kinkier

      My social filter is all kinda wonk, but I’m aware when I’m honest about some things it’s too much super freak and people don’t look at me the same out either disgust, fear or both which kinda hurts when it was NOT the goal.

      But as non-binary AFAB human I related a lot to monsters in regards to multiple aspects, puberty/sex things was(still kinda is) def one of them.
      Ginger Snaps was way relatable.

  22. How is everyone’s week going? Mines has been solid. Spent all Wednesday at shul cosplaying the role of cis Jew. I survived it despite my father insistence I speak to one of the nice mostly Persian cis-het Jewish women there. Like nope sorry, I am trans I date only lbtq women and non-binary people; so, cis-het women aren’t my type nor am I their type. Ugh. On the plus side after dinner, I went to a friends lgbtq birthday party and we sang karaoke; it was a great way to end a day.

    Last Sunday I spent my time and Cuties Coffee with friends and as usual was a great time. On a sad related note, Cuties posted the date for what could be one of their last queers, coffee, and donuts on October 7th. Really breaks my heart as it’s a great community gathering spot. I went to a lgbtq bar Saturday night and it’s not the same vibe or friendliness. I keep mentioning it because it seems like all our places a slowly closing down. The local NPR station even mentioned it and then went into a discussion of are lgbtq spaces needed, and the answer was they hope not in the future, which I don’t agree with because I want a space where cis-het people aren’t there(or at least not common). The two people on NPR also said that lgbtq places close down because of bad business plans and decisions, but never got into why a good amount of women and non-binary people don’t come to lesbian nights at the bar/club. Like why can’t real life be more like tv shows where the cis-hets are always congregating somewhere almost daily? Or like the Planet, we saw Stephanie attempt? I have that spot with cuties where I know at least one person I can sit and convo with on the regular. Sorry about that I just have a lot of feels about community.

    Kind of bummed myself out there. It also didn’t help a song that gives me the feels(you know that song that reminds you why can’t we be more of thing) came on Spotify radio. I’ll be fine, just to take a deep breath.

    I was at cuties but saw this lone flower in my backyard full of color.

    Thank you for reading and viewing my post. Have a positive & safe weekend!

  23. I’m just here to say that losing your grip on a very full diva cup and watching as it SPIRALS across the bathroom is an experience.

    As a kid we once had an art activity where you dribbled paint onto a spinning wheel. The artistic effect was remarkably similar. The scale however was not.

  24. I’ve been looking for alternatives to period pads since I started swimming lessons. My period has stopped me from going twice now (though the second time I didnt mind as much because I went to see a Janelle Monae concert anyway). I tried tampons but have been so unsuccessful I gave up and tried the Moon cup which has also been a challenge to insert into my vagina. I’m going to read Laneia’s review of the XO FLO Mini and see what I can try next.

      • I’m so curious about this! My cramps have gotten much worse over the past several years, roughly coinciding with when I stopped using my DivaCup. I’m always on the lookout for cramp pain mgmt remedies (cannabis, acupuncture, yoga, swimming, eating dark leafy greens, the list goes on and on…) it’s good to hear that maybe getting back into using a cup might be a help.

        • Please try magnesium glycinate!! And raspberry leaf tea. They have *transformed* my life and made my periods manageable rather than utterly debilitating. Also you might like The Period Repair Manual – chock full of suggestions written by an MD.

  25. My period is very unpleasant, which is part of why I went to the gynecologist last year and was like, “I would like the longest-lasting hormonal IUD you have so I can outlast as many of the politicians who are trying to take away my health insurance as possible, please,” and he was like, “Here are your options,” and now I haven’t felt a super nasty cramp in a year and it’s amazing.

    I didn’t really learn that periods weren’t supposed to be so bad until college when I lived in a residence hall with a bunch of other period-havers who all experienced different degrees of unpleasantness. I guess in high school we just talked about our term papers and not our periods?

    I don’t remember my first period AT ALL, but I do remember sitting in algebra in the eighth grade with the absolute worst cramps and hating everything. I let this go on for well over a decade! Bad idea! I strongly encourage you, if you are able, to seek relief.

    Also when I got my IUD, they found a large ovarian cyst/tumor, which I had to have removed. Yikes! But going to the doctor about my sucky periods helped me out in more ways than I expected.

    Non-period talk: I have taken like three or four different routes to and from work this week thanks to flooding and washouts from the hurricane. There’s a bad Flo joke in here but I’m tired so someone else make it please.

    • omg Lex! I have two pairs of Crazy Boxers but mine are shark patterns because they were gorgeous blues and abstract water patterns and how could I not. If I were still having periods I would have to be all “shark week boxers FTW.” The bloodstains would be visible but could be passed off as part of the art… Not as comfy as the TomboyX ones though, the legs aren’t quite long enough not to ride up.

      • Small world eh?

        Having just searched for an image of my bear boxers I ended up on the Crazy Boxers website and they have 7 Shark Week boxers as in that is their name

        The tropical one actually looks bloody:

        Not sure if the embed will work it’s some extension after the media tag

  26. I have something that may or may not be endometriosis (but all signs point to endometriosis) and honestly there have been days when I contemplated just ripping my entire reproductive mess out of my body.

    (I’ve passed out and vomited because of cramps before. It’s a nightmare.)

    My mother gave me basically no explanation of puberty besides “yeah you’re going to start bleeding from your vagina at some point welcome to hell” so actually getting my period was TERRIFYING (I remember thinking I had cancer or my kidneys were failing.)

    In college I mostly hung out with two cis straight guys who had very different reactions to periods. One – basically a 6 foot tall lumberjack teddy bear – was really chill about it and would come share his body heat to help with my awful cramps, and the other was very awkward and weird about it in a typical cishet dude way.

    Also does anyone else have that thing where literally every muscle injury you’ve had in the last year or so starts hurting again around your period??? What’s up with that?

  27. Period symptoms!!! They’re so crazy! Y’all I feel like I am ON TOP OF THE WORLD right now, because I just finished my period. Gonna just enjoy that feeling and forget about how in a couple of weeks I’m gonna turn into a raging PMS monster and then one week after that I’m gonna start bleeding and cramping everywhere.

    Last weekend I had such bad cramps while I was sleeping that I ended up having a dream entirely about period cramps :/ I’ve also had cramps bad enough to wake me up from a deep sleep!

    • @Mary I also have had dreams about cramps! Sometimes I think they come from some kind of weird PMS phantom cramps…and other times I wake up and realize they’re real 🙁

      (And also, yes, nothing like the euphoria of ending a period! I hope you have a nice long couple of period-free weeks!)

  28. I feel kind of strange posting this here, but it’s important to end the weirdly specific stigma on period-silence. I’ve never really talked about it, but my first period was horrible. My mother used to have a monthly party with her friends and I got my first period during one of their wine nights.
    Nothing I had learned about periods had given me any sort of idea that it might smell strange and not be blood red. That night I was in my room upstairs but over the course of a few hours kept going to the bathroom across the hall to check on what the fuck was going on down there. I finally figured out what it was, although it did take longer than I’d like to admit (thanks american public school sex-ed!!), showered,and changed into clean clothes with a make-shift toilet paper pad.
    Due to being an idiot teenager, I decided to leave my pants & underwear downstairs in the laundry room. I figured that I could ask someone to show me how to get the stains out after the party. I shoved the dirty clothes into a plastic bag and walked down the stairs.
    I had to walk past the living room, where my mom and her friends were drinking, to get to the laundry room. When she saw me turn the corner, my mom immediately stopped the conversation and asked me where I was going. I told her. She asked me why and grabbed the bag from me.
    When she saw what was inside, I thought she would understand; I didn’t want to announce in front of everyone that I had just gotten my first period.
    I let her take it.
    She ripped open the bag in a room full of her friends, saw what was inside and loudly asked “did you shit yourself? or are you just too r*tarded to know how to whipe?”
    I cried a lot as a kid, but this time I was too surprised to speak, let alone start crying. She yanked me out of the room and I managed to explain what had happened. I had to repeat myself, I had said it so quietly the first time.
    She told me to throw out the clothes and go back upstairs.
    I did. I had to walk past the living room again on my way upstairs. I made eye contact with one of my mother’s friends.She looked away very quickly, but from her expression I could tell she had heard everything.
    An hour later or so my mom came into my room with a box of tampons, gave them to me, and went back downstairs to her party. I spent about another hour trying to get one in, before I snuck down the hall to my parent’s bathroom and stole my mom’s box of pads instead.
    In the many periods since then, using pads or tampons has always kind of bummed me out, but I mostly hated seeing period blood (esp on my underwear). When I switched over to a menstrual cup something clicked and now getting my period and seeing period blood doesn’t bother me at all anymore.

    • Sometimes I post things that are like old hat to me but real upsetting to other people and it gets weird (for me) when they try to…comfort me or something and I don’t know how you feel about your mom general.

      Some people who have crummy relationships with their parents or carry a hurtful thing their parent did and don’t like when people trash their parent(s)

      So I’m going to leave you some kitten gifs

      But if you’d like a cuss filled post about how I another menstruating human feels about what your mother did I can do that.
      Hell I think even if I never menstruated a day in my damn life I’d have some choice fuckin words.

  29. (CW: throwing up)
    I’m actually currently in the process of considering trying birth control to make my periods more manageable. When I was in middle school I pretty much always would end up throwing up from first-day cramps. My periods thankfully grew more manageable during high school and college, but these days I pretty much always get very nauseous (in addition to having terrible, nightmare-inducing cramps). I find that I usually can wait out the nausea and the worst of the cramps if I sit still for about 1-2 hours with a heat pad (and aleve) while distracting myself with non-stressful youtube videos. However, a few months ago I didn’t quite take my aleve on time and ended up being severely nauseous/throwing up all afternoon. This was at work, and I am VERY fortunate to have a wonderful boss and co-workers who were concerned and understanding. However, my commute to/from work is a 1.25 hour mix of walking and (usually) standing on public transportation, so I’m pretty much stranded at the office if I get my period there.
    Standing on a packed rush hour train is no joke when you’re crampy, nauseous, dehydrated, etc. etc.

    All that to say, I hadn’t talked to a doctor about managing periods since I was a teenager and I’ve realized (thanks to prompting from my wonderful, concerned boss) that it’s well worth another chat. I do feel like there’s a lot more out there now for period pain management than there was when I was growing up, which wasn’t even that long ago. Now there’s so much more information about possible other health issues (endometriosis?! I’m also looking into that), and more pain-management options (from birth control to cannabis!). There are even period-centered apps, like Clue, which I started using after I read about it here on AS! (Thanks Autostraddle!) So I do feel like there’s hope 🙂

  30. I have been period art before, the phone I lost those were the only nudes on it. Any blood related magic is not private out of shame but some ritual things just aren’t for sharing to me.

    My hormones’ fave foods are all things high in potassium, magnesium, and protein. The nice things I make for my self are banana oatmeal cookies, this egg-potato dish that is like kookoo sibzamini and tortilla de papas had baby, and congri which is a black bean dish where the beans and rice are cooked together.
    The fancy stuff I eat in tiny dish with tiny spoon while I soak in candle lit bath like a sovereign with all the time in the world is the 70% dark chocolates and peanut-butter or fruit.

    My first period was September the 11th(not 2001 thank fuck) and for gender reasons I did not take to any part of puberty very well. Also feared my body maturing into ripe, bred-able, helpless prey and knew starting my period would “fill” me out and stuff. So from 11-12 I worked out HARD to try to reduce my body fat as much as possible to hold off menarche for as long as possible.

    So my reaction to my purple underwear being stained with the rusty goop was a really anti-climatic “Well shit.” and I did not tell a soul only stole my mom’s panty-liners that I did not know were NOT the same thing as pads.
    I found that out to my peril in October and after that fiasco my mother NEVER demanded I go anywhere just because she said so EVER again.

    Random period things:
    PMS for my first period included hot flashes

    For some bad cramps what eased the pain was sleeping on the floor

    What were for a long time my worst cramps I paced like a labouring pregnant person, did breathing and prayed Hail Mary in 3 languages before passing out.

    My actual worst cramps were menstrual and extreme food intolerance reaction at the same time and I only know I was screaming because I was hoarse the next day.
    Also my dad wanted to rush me to the ER and my AARP card carrying fibro suffering mom felt the need to slip me one of her pain pills. Nothing, none of the bones I ever broke, the angioedema-urticaria episode where I felt like I was being eating alive by fire ants have gotten close to the pain of that day.

    Back cramps means one is more likely to experience back labor, which is slower and more painful labor and gosh if I didn’t already NOT want to gestate and deliver another human that would convince me

    Before my period I’m ravenous, during I barely eat and when I try to make myself eat more food I have more cramps compared to when I’m practically fasting making me wonder if my uterus and digestive bits are like formed or placed a bit wrong.

    Dark red sheets, one of my first I’m grown up and going to have grown up things and most useful

    Oooh and I got an A+ on the Menstrual Trivia Quiz

    I got a question do y’all keep period undies?
    Like have designated underwear for menstruation or just toss out what ever gets stained? I used to wear whites and try to rescue them with bleach but oh boy is bleach murder on elastic. Trying to switch to all black briefs now.

  31. I’ve recently started to experiment with a herbal remedy made out of hemp tree/monk’s pepper tree (vitex agnuscastus) because my PMS would make me feel depressed and dysphoric for days and it sucked. So far I can report that the plant stuff is working for me. It does not make all the sadness disappear, but my moods have become more manageable. I got the remedy from the pharmacy, it is called “Agnucaston” , but I’m not sure whether it is sold in the US. But hemp tree apparently has been used for all kinds of period-related problems since Antiquity, so you can feel very witchy using it.

  32. I’m having a Uterine polyp removed this week, I went through multiple periods from hell before I finally had an incident where I was without pain meds at 5am and having cramps so bad I threw up and thought I would die! It took that to get me to see a gynecologist even though there had been symptoms for many months. We’re so conditioned to believe that periods just hurt and that’s life, to minimize that pain. It sucks.

  33. A warm soothing drink for dat PMS anxiety:
    -make lavender tea
    -add 100 % cacao powder to the strong tea (enough to make it very chocolaty)
    -spice with cinnamon, vanille, cardamom etc.

    I blog about periods here in Finland.

  34. I waited for the weekend to be almost over in the hopes that nobody noticed my comment: I HAVE AN IRRATIONAL FEAR TO THINGS LIKE TAMPONS, CUPS AND SUCH. In the holy name of jebus, what happens if that thing gets trap there!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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