It’s 2021 and we still don’t talk about periods as we should. As much as we like to think we know about periods based on the ads with athletes racing down a court to show us the power of a tampon, most of us haven’t even scratched the surface. Instead, periods are taught to young women as a taboo topic behind closed doors. Then, we’re sent off into the world to figure it out.
Most of the menstrual health education we get as young women is based around one quick seminar with the best-case scenario and a sprinkling of some vague tips. This leads to many of us isolating ourselves for feeling different, alone, or like we’re doing it all wrong. Navigating this journey with the little information we’re given can be terrifying. As kids, we’re often left wondering why our periods aren’t like the ones our eighth-grade teacher described, or why our best friend got hers over Thanksgiving break and ours is still nowhere to be found. Eventually, many of us ended up learning the ins and outs of our time of the month on our own.
Even now, with our own experiences, trial and error and endless information on the internet, there is still a stigma around what the “right” period looks like. Moreover, there’s a certain stereotype associated with women on their periods. Society has made it seem like whenever “Aunt Flo” is visiting, women are angrier and have a caution sign above their heads to watch out for waterworks. There’s also an expectation that women have to have the perfect period schedule. They should be a predictable three to five days, every month, with some bearable pain. But none of those ideas or concepts are near true. Periods are personal and different for every individual. There are no two menstrual cycles alike — uterus sisters, not twins! And neither experience is more valid than the other. Not every woman reacts the same when they’re on their period and menstrual cycles are not clockwork.
Women should not have to fit their time of the month into a box of expectations. Our periods are not homogeneous. They are not like those videos we watched in middle school, and that’s okay! The reality is that there are millions of different periods (and even women with no periods), which is something that shouldn’t be shamed or whispered about. It should be celebrated that women and their periods can come in different forms, so don’t be afraid to commemorate your periods in their entirety, even if yours is different than someone else’s.