Periods are considered 'gross', 'disgusting', and 'icky'. As women we're faced with media campaigns that refuse to talk about them as if they don't even exist, and you'll rarely hear someone openly talking about what it's really like.
Most of us will, at some point, have been told that 'it's all perfectly natural, we all go through it. You'll have to get used to it one day' when we're doubled up or passing out from the pain it's causing. We're just wussies, we should be able to cope with this because VAGINAS. It doesn't work like that. No period is the same as another.
Some women can suffer absolutely immense pain, causing them to be unable to move or in some cases even pass out. They can bleed so much that they're worried to go out in public in case it leaks through the 'sanitary' devices they're using, but it's not acceptable to talk about it. This is something that can cripple women for a week out of every month. But it's not a medical condition, it's being a woman.
I'm getting fed up with it. If I have to bleed and double up in pain once every 4 weeks to 4 months (yeah, I'm that irregular), you can hear about it. You hear about it other times I'm going through something.
If it were anything else causing this much of a disruption, you would take notice, not tell me it's 'gross'. I understand these are 'things we go through', but it's nowhere near as simple as the rhetoric suggests. And no, I'm not looking for sympathy and nor are most women, we're looking for understanding. We're looking for a way that we can go through this so often without being ashamed.
We don't go skydiving, we don't go skiing or partying. For many of us, we sit at home on the sofa cuddled up to a hot water bottle and drinking hot chocolate. Why do we do this? Well.. It's not acceptable to talk about that, is it?
There's my point. There's why.
If you would like to join in the discussion, ask questions, answer questions others have, share experiences, or even general concerns about this topic: tweet with #periodgate or to @halfabear. Let's finally start talking.
Edit 25/11/2012: Right, okay, that's over and done with. I'm incredibly surprised by the response I've received. Rather than lots of 'ewww gross' messages (of which I got a few, I even got told I'm 'revolting'), there was an awful lot of positive discussion. People have been sharing their experiences, problems they've had with stigma, and tips on various sanitary devices. It's helped some women realise that they're not 'abnormal' for the symptoms they get during menstruation, such as sore boobs (boobalgia, as it's now called), a lot of mucus, above average flow, severe clotting, and different types of pain.
Thank you to everyone who's got involved in the discussion. It's helped some people get a much better understanding, and any discussion can only help to lessen the stigma.
And now for the data.
20/Nov 9:00am Started20/Nov 3:10pm 18ml20/Nov 6.30pm 5ml20/Nov 9.30pm 8ml20/Nov 11.30pm 4ml21/Nov 1.30am 4ml21/Nov 9.30am 4ml21/Nov 1.30pm 8ml21/Nov 3.40pm 20ml21/Nov 5.40pm 12ml21/Nov 8.10pm 10ml21/Nov 10:20pm 7ml22/Nov 12:40am 0ml22/Nov 1:30am 2ml22/Nov 8:30am 9ml22/Nov 10:40am 6ml22/Nov 1:40pm 7ml22/Nov 6:00pm 12ml22/Nov 9:40pm 10ml23/Nov 12:34pm 12ml23/Nov 2:50am 10ml23/Nov 8:40am 2ml23/Nov 12:10pm 3ml23/Nov 5.20pm 3ml23/Nov 19:00 4ml24/Nov 2:30am 5ml24/Nov 4:00am 8ml24/Nov 9:00am 0ml24/Nov 1:40pm 0mlTotal flow was roughly 193ml
This is quite a difference to the 'normal' period (I greatly dislike that word, we're all so different) which is between 10 and 100mL.
This has been a very short and light period for me, it's been a real eye opener to actually take down the numbers and find out it's still been that heavy. I may chart again in future in what's a more commonly occurring flow.
Thank you again, all of you.
Edit: 26/11/2012: Seems it's not over and done with yet. Yesterday it started up again, much heavier (which is more in line with what I normally get) although fortunately no cramps or clots.
I have times when my period will start, stop for a few days, and start again. I was hoping this wouldn't be one of them but apparently it is. If you'd like to get involved, the hashtag is still #periodgate on twitter, or you can tweet @halfabear.
Edit: 27/11/2012: I'm aware that this amount of menstrual fluid is rather alarming. As this is the first time I've actually measured my flow and taken down the figures, I was unaware that it was this heavy. I'm going to be speaking to my GP about it soon.
Edit: 28/11/2012 It appears to have finally finished. I'm now getting some rather heavy discharge which is rather brown in colour, but no longer passing clots, mucus, or blood. Here are the figures after the two-day break that occurred.
The total amount of menstrual fluid released during this period was 451ml, or roughly 0.45L.26/Nov 5:20am 16ml26/Nov 9:10am 18ml26/Nov 11:50am 20ml26/Nov 1:40pm 18ml26/Nov 3:15pm 15ml26/Nov 5:40pm 18ml26/Nov 9:50pm 17ml27/Nov 12:50am 20ml27/Nov 2:20am 20ml (overflow)27/Nov 3:20am 8ml27/Nov 8:20am 20ml (overflow)27/Nov 12:1pm 13ml27/Nov 3:20pm 5ml27/Nov 6:50pm 7ml27/Nov 8:20pm 4ml28/Nov 12:20am 19ml28/Nov 1:40am 17ml28/Nov 8:00am 7ml28/Nov 11:20am 4ml28/Nov 5:10pm 2ml