Well what started off as a day where we had orders delivery’s and a busy morning, was going to continue with an afternoon of studies but now I’m writing this lay in bed in excruciating stomach cramps and menstruating so hard I could feed 100 vampires, so much so for me the welcoming of my monthly cycle doesn’t just cause me the odd bit of discomfort or feminine embarrassment, but they are extremely debilitating and effects my life where I’m in bed for days.
I’m writing this piece in a light hearted way in hope to raise awareness and also continue a topic that is often never talked about and hoping to collaborate my knowledge and experiences of fashion with my living day to day struggles... the dreaded period!!
We’ve all had those days where we were caught short and had that embarrassing stain on our trousers, or dress, when it’s going to come it’s going to come and there are often no warning signs...... or are there?! I say this from experience as a women who suffered horrendous PMT to also now taking medication to reduce my flow and pain as it effects my life every month, i feel confident to bring this issue up and how i have a few tips that may just help you in this department from wearing good clothes suggestions, to tips on seeing the signs, especially for us girls who are on the heavier side of the flow chart, so pad up ladies and have giggle with me as I talk about my struggles that hope inspire some thoughts for you or someone you know who may relate or be struggling about this normally embarrassing topic.
If you have any medical issue i am no doctor, so always always seek advice from your professional doctor or and consult a specialist such as a gynaecologist if your issues are specific. I’ve seen so many of these and had so many hands contraptions and samples and colposcopy’s down there, i sometimes think my womb is giving me this amount of flow as karma for all the things that went in there, hahaha no seriously though lady’s health is serious which leads onto my next point.
Please ladies always get a smear! Due to issues i have i have smears yearly and shock horror to some of you, my first vaginal examination was when i was 13, yes 13 a male doctor and a nurse and my mum all stood in the room having a poke and a tweak. i had some weird discomfort and issues (can’t quite remember as 13 is a long time back) but i do remember what ever happened was a problem that the doctor took a feel and said, i would come on my period soon. A week later i did.... on the morning I had to be in a gym skirt on a trampoline exhibition at a school open evening for year 7s to visit.... omg I’m only glad back then we wore big dark green knickers and my skirt was knee length, but bouncing on a trampoline made dint help my panic, but I was one of those teens so desperate to grow up and experience women hood, that I was more relieved I was no in the gang of girls who had their period and I wasn’t going to be the last of the group and be picked on ( yes girls only school issues- sad but true). Back then we didn’t have pads like we do, i think my pad resembled more of a maternity /breast pad than a sanitary towel, point being, doctors spotted issues... They might have given me my first vaginal check at 13 but it was a valuable lesson despite embarrassment that they sorted and knew what the problem was, even if it was just the fact, I was having my first period. So, from that point on from being 15/16 and sexually active I had smears.... yes again, may shock people a little young, but despite the age limit, it was advised from the point you are sexually active, and I’m so glad i did, because at 23 after having one every year from 16 i was able to know what was happening down there and when at 22 there was a shift and change in cells i had my first colposcopy, and nothing further came of it after the cells were removed. (now that is a storey for another time.... i think your grasping now I’ve experienced a lot down there so my experiences are genuine and seem to be never ending but i certainly learnt a thing or too along the way)
It wasn’t until my mid 30s and me and my New hubby stated having fertility issues, the tests the literature, honestly what i know on cells i swear i could be a scientist but seriously i had to work out patterns, and 3 years previously due to my mental health and because i was single and had no partner to monitor my behaviour, i had to do a mood diary. I initially wrote it on paper from a chart my shrink gave me, but i soon found an app that allowed me to monitor my behaviour changes, my moods, my period the full works and 8 years on i saw a significant pattern and coloration. In this time i had a divorce and 62 days i went without a period, then i went back to my usual 29-30 days. I’m so spot on in normal circumstances that now i know the times when I’m stressed my periods gap over 8 ears riddled down to 36 days on average, so by doing this for so long now, not only do i know when I’m due on regularly, but should i have a disaster or stress if i don’t come on intime, it will be there by day 36! So by doing this it has helped me so much, so much so i now know not only when will I come on, but when i ovulate......
Ovulate you say why do i need to know this.... ok did you know when you ovulate its usually 2 weeks before your menstruation, but does vary on your month length and cycle, as it varies for everyone i advice you get to know your period first then you can follow instructions how to work out your ovulating time which is personal and different to everyone. Now for me its 2 weeks and now I’m so spot on even my hubby knows when I’m ovulating. For example, sex can feel different like something inside has moved position, i mean there’s so many signs its truly amazing when you start to notice them. for me, i got so many ovulation symptoms, like pain, bloating, different toilet habits, discomfort during sex, mood swings and by knowing this i felt less crazy! You see PMT Isn’t just about your periods, for me i feel it around ovulation too and the full month I have ups and downs significantly relating to my cycle. Ovulation for me is about 4 days then I’m sort of ok, then 7 days before my period i start to get emotional and want to eat all the chocolate in the world, then i flow for 7 days so for 18 days of a 30 day month, over half the time i feel absolute crap, insane and every other cliche comment that’s made about insane hormonal women. Well you know what ladies.... i have had it all and I AM that women!!!! but you know what I’m proud, because now 8 years on i recognise the signs the patterns and i don’t feel like I’m losing it and heading to the priory, and that makes me feel like i am ok!!
Speaking out.... now I’ve decided to write about my experiences, but i don’t expect you to document your vagina and put it all on Instagram from the world to see, i mean communicate to those around you. My family ( well the females) have all suffered, ironically my mum gets this as she was the same, low blood pressure, heavy flow, in bed for days and if you speak up your females in your family might own up to their issues and before you know it it may even run in the family like mine does. I was screwed from the onset as both my grandmas suffered in one way or another, as my late grandma on my dad’s side was institutionalised and had a vasectomy due to her heavy periods, and my mum and grandma had period issues as my grandma fell on a spike through her lady garden and was bed bound for half a year and they thought she would never have children as it stopped her periods, and then my mum was born and she made up for my grandmas lack of periods, and i think im doing the same. so again, by talking sharing stories it normalises it and makes it less taboo and less frightening to you getting to know your body, so talk about it and see what your family inherited and passed to you!!
So how does all that relate to fashion Amanda, well my point is knowing your body and knowing your cycle can help so much being caught off guard, but don’t get me wrong even as much as i think I’m so in tuned in, I’ve had the odd caught out moment, but for that i am oober prepared!!
I always carry a pad and did you know during ovulation as your body is preparing to make babies your internal fluids become more watery due to the fact its intended for the sperm to make an easier water slide towards the eggs, but despite wet and wild going on mid-month for some of us, i wear pant liners at this point and that i feel protects my clothing garments, as between ovulation and menstruating I feel like I need to be in 24/7 diapers.
Around your period look out for the signs i even set alarms 2-3 days before and on the day, why, you ask???? not because il come on early or because i reach for the diary to check my periods due, but to check my work schedule, then i know what outfits i may need to wear for what occasion and thus the under wear to compliment it. If I’m behind on the washing it gives me chance to get my Bridget pants clean and also any other clothing that i may need to wear. for me i found its about being prepared and wearing the right clothing for me and my needs.
Now there’s some of you that are saying lucky you Amanda you know when you’re going to come on but i don’t have a clue, and that’s why in your closet at any given day have a period attire at the ready, save it for those days! if you do need to wear it and not leave it in the closet 6 months gathering dust, make sure its worn and washed straight away or that you have a backup. we all have enough outfits and panties that we can try to be prepared.
Carry panties with you........ now on occasions where I’ve misread the situation and messed up my timings, i always leak!!! but for me i either get a cramp and the flood gates open or i just start to get wet. Now sorry for the graphics but that’s enough time to whip to the loo and should the panties be hit i just switch panties and boom I’m good to go and phew i saved the trouser stain....
no pad.... damn we’ve all been there, this is easy especially in current climates, always carry tissues, hay-fever, colds, kids sticky hands, make tissues a thing to always carry and if need must and no loos and tissues to be seen, a quick one, two and those tissues make the best make believe pad, i even have panties and tissues in my car and baby wipes for any accidents and they have saved the day. luckily my hubby knows all this so he doesn’t think I’m having some affair with someone who has a fetish to big granny pants hahahahha
Clothing- wear something loose, well yes in theory but have you ever thought about the leg drippage or moving pads, because your pants move a lot. See most women here will admit to using tampons but for years i needed both, and for some reason, I’ve had reactions to tampons and every period if i use them i get water infections and that’s something else i already suffer and take meds for, so no way am i having another infection on top of the nightmare monthlies. So night time pads it is for me even in the day...... yep all day, every day for 7 days!!! The joys, but no infections, but like tampons there’s more risks and despite trying every pad even 2 at times and layers of tissues, still the odd fluid can escape so that where these 2 necessities’ come in it for me….
so i have the right underwear....boom thankyou Primark!! sexy patterned granny pants with cotton gusset and big tummy stretch material, and just penny’s so if there is a bad accident well, they can be gone, but to be fair there so secure hardly anything budges, so I never throw them like I have other brands and the stretch tummy is comfy over my c section scar which for me is always sensitive come period time.
And secondly tight pants like black thick leggings or even tight stretch jegging jeans. by having a snug fit near this area, it acts to hold my panties in place, thus extra support for the pad, and unlike cotton that is breathable but I always worry about the smells if any leaks occur, jeans I feel hold in everything and if you get the right style like I love a high waste and tight fit but high elastane stretch for movement on legs but secure seems on the gusset, for me they work great along with other pants that have a denser fabric but a great elastane stretch.
Then the final magic weapon, a black long jumper or t-shirt or top that should i have a leak it covers that, and I particularly like layers to cover up my what looks like a pregnant belly so again on my monthlies I’m not ashamed to wear clothes a size up to give me comfort and fit. Now if it penetrates all 3 layers, well my advice would be visiting the docs and check there’s no other issue.
Another great final tip that I always carry is travel baby wipes i know i said tissues before but I also have travel wipes…. Genius!!! Not only can you clean up and feel fresh, but the wet fibres can scrub out some stains that if blood dries out too long can stain, so for me a baby wipe from a garment staining point of view caught earlier enough, can ease some of the staining making it easier when your home or able to submerge the garments in water to soften the stain and then wash. it’s like first thing in a morning and i live in a boy house hold, my panties are submerged straight in water and then washed and 9-10 times they come up great, and not left till laundry day with dried blood stains that are a night mare to get out!! Remember we want to protect our garments so unlike me a few years back when i was throwing panties and clothing left right and centre, i want to think and be more sustainable and throw less clothing away until necessary and try to do my conscious part where I can!!
So i hope those few personal experiences of mine make you realise your not alone and on a week where it’s been National Women’s Day, it’s good to share stories and be open so that maybe just one thing from our personal experience can help a fellow woman understand their bodies better to not struggle alone. This gift they have been given is a blessing of mother nature and something to celebrate our blessings of cycles and not to fear them or hate them as much as i did. I viewed them as troubled and pained times, but now I seem them even though I still suffer as a yin and yang, and a blessing that makes us women and all that we are and all that we go through as a woman and as a sisterhood, that will bring us together and celebrate and understand each other better!!!
Understanding ourselves deeper helps understand others better, and in the words of Ru Paul, "if you cannot love your selves how the hell can you love anyone else...
can i get an A- woMAN in here"!!!!
love yourself, we get one body, one life so let’s make the most of it and not let our periods get us down!!!