Print Edition: February 26, 2014
I am a woman and my period is gross.
It is not a beautiful part of nature. It is not a chance for me to know my female form better. It is not a time when I feel kinship with all womankind. It is an ugly, ugly, weird week of the month when blood rushes from my uterus and I do my best not to look at it.
Before you get on your enlightened horse and explain something about unrealistic media expectations warping my perceptions of my own body, let me stop you in your tracks and take you back in time — a trip down memory-menstrual lane.
I was eleven. I was a tough kid. I liked the outdoors. I liked gross stuff, like snot and worms and bugs and rotting logs and even the occasional dead bird. Nature, I told myself, is cool. Everything gross is a part of life.
I had not, however, met my period.
In a move almost absurdly congruent with national averages, my uterine lining thickened and shed itself for the very first time in the month of my 12th birthday. I became a woman. No angels sang. Oprah didn’t send me a letter. I really didn’t feel any different than before except blood was leaking from my nether regions.
Let that sink in.
Blood was leaking from my nether regions.
How would you react if you found blood in your underwear one morning? Would you freak the hell out? I did. Oh, I knew what it was. I just didn’t want it to BE what it was. For one desperate moment I hoped it was some genetic disease that had done this to me — maybe cancer! Yeah, cancer would be good, my newly-12-year-old self thought. Cancer is curable.
You know what isn’t curable? The menstrual cycle.
My mom took me aside and showed me the products I would use for the rest of my life to deal with my bloody uterus.
“Welcome to womanhood!” she said.
“Doesn’t sound fun,” I said, doubtfully.
“It’s not,” she said, “and I’m not going to sugar coat it for you.”
This may sound harsh, but at least it became immediately clear that my period was going to be that gross forever.
Fun fact: did you know periods are not just blood, but may also contain pieces of uterine lining? (Read as: chunks. Solids. Stringy bits.)
I once read in a tampon instruction booklet that every period is only about three tablespoons of blood total. Fun fact: that is a goddamn lie. Some periods are in that range, sure. Others are tsunamis. Think about that for a second. A blood tsunami coming from your nether regions.
I am a woman, and menstrual blood is gross.