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Let’s Talk About It: Period Pain and Shame

The topic of periods has always been a taboo one. If a woman is reading this, she will most likely have countless memories of smuggling pads and tampons to her friends, as if they were a Class A drug and the police would show up at any minute. Somehow, we each had a paralyzing fear of being exposed or found out—when in reality, half the population experiences periods monthly. 

So why did it become so censored? How did it become so mystifying? You know what, maybe it’s those weird period product ads of girls running around, having the time of their lives, followed by an absorption demonstration with a mysterious blue liquid. Seriously, what is that stuff? Regardless, I’m tired of it. So, I’m going to write about my experience, in hopes that it helps normalize talking about periods to even just one person reading.

Once a month, I go through the worst pain of my life. Every single possible period symptom you can get, I get it. Most recently, I’ve been suffering from extended periods of dizziness and nausea, which effectively debilitate me for over 48 hours. Cramps and back pain usually have me doubled over in agony until the Tylenol kicks in. I’ve actually thrown up before because my cramps were so intense and painful. I’m not being dramatic. 

The only way I can describe how I feel about my periods is out of control. I feel like my body isn’t my own and that something’s wrong with it. And when I got to a point where I couldn’t endure this monthly pain any longer, deciding to finally muster up the courage to talk about it with my doctor, she said something to the effect of  “I’m so sorry, there’s really not much I can do for you.” I was given no guidance, no suggestions, and no hope of learning how to navigate this awful part of my life. I guess I’m just baffled how, as a society, we’ve managed to figure out how to send people to the moon, harness energy from the sun, and create virtual realities—and yet we still don’t seem to understand or prioritize women’s health in the slightest. 

I could rant for days, but I guess my point is that it’s important to advocate for yourself. I have always struggled with trying to compare my pain with others to figure out where I am on the scale, but the truth is it doesn’t matter. I’m struggling, it’s impeding my daily functions, and that is not normal and not okay. We need to become more vocal about our issues, demand answers, and advocate for ourselves because it’s obvious no one else will.

So talk about it with your friends, don’t be afraid to open up a crinkly pad in a quiet restroom, go book a pap smear RIGHT NOW, and start taking an active role in your health.

And that’s my Ted Talk.

Hello! I'm currently studying Advertising at the University of Texas at Austin. In my free time, I'm constantly baking, listening to true crime podcasts, and spending time with my family. Connect with me on IG: www.instagram.com/unorachel
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