Periods: Are we afraid to talk about it?
I've been using homemade cloth pads for the past few years (ever since that experiment with cup-style products), and I've noticed that I have a very much heightened sense of when my period is arriving, and exactly how heavy my flow is every day of my period. Moderate differences are very obvious when your absorbency is all based on cotton, not those high-tech absorbers in today's tampons and pads. While it's often inconvenient, and always a little messy, I feel somehow better without having what is essentially a stopper in my lady parts.
I have one day that's very heavy, one day that's somewhat heavy, and a few days of trickle. That heavy day is bad enough that I think about my period all the time. I try not to do anything on these days; if I have to, I often use tampons or the Softcup (I picked up a few free samples at Blogher -- the company rebranded and relaunched the product emphasizing ability to swim, do sports and have sex with the cup in; it doesn't seem a very mom-focused marketing campaign) because I pretty much have to be close to home to use cloth pads. Luckily, I'm there a lot.
So when I was invited to sit in on a conference call about heavy periods, I thought it would be interesting to hear what the PR firm arranging the event was pitching. I wasn't sure: what is the definition of heavy period? (Going through more than one pad an hour is, I think, the definition; the woman on the call representing heavy period sufferers says hers was far worse.) The belief of the PR firm arranging these calls is that women are afraid to talk about their periods, and that they are even timid about bringing up such complaints to their doctors.
I had to wonder, is this true for you? I've talked about my period to several close friends over the years, and I also chat about it (very superficially) with the teenage cross country runners I coach. It also seems that, every month, one of my kids barges in the bathroom when I'm changing a pad or wiping blood; I have to have the talk again each time. (I now say, for the record: "every month mama's body gets ready to have a baby. If there is no baby, the stuff that would have helped the baby grow gets sent out.")
I left the call feeling lucky for a number of reasons. First, that I don't have very heavy periods -- I don't have to carry around (as one woman said) "my own diaper bag." Second, that we live in a time when hysterectomies aren't, anymore, automatic once you're done having kids. Third, that I have a community to whom to chat about my period -- and inspiration, thanks to them, to try alternates to the traditional tampons and Maxipads. How about you? Do you talk about your period with anyone? Have you wondered if yours are unusually heavy? Did your mother, aunts or grandmothers have a hysterectomy -- and, if so, were there regrets or complications?
Those who listened to the call were entered into a random drawing for a few prizes, including cosmetics and an Amex gift card; I won one of these. Lucky me again! I did not promise to blog about the call, nor will I receive any further compensation for doing so.