Women bleed. Monthly. Or I should say many women usually bleed monthly, as there are always exceptions. But healthy women of a certain age bleed quite regularly.
I sometimes wonder what society as a whole makes of this, because we are so silent about it. Most people around us don’t know we are bleeding. We are usually taught early on to be discreet with our menstruation. That’s what all those pad and tampon ads are about with their blue blood. Blue blood! Women bleed red. Red!
There are many negative associations with women and their bleeding. PMS. Moodiness. Bloating. Pain. Uncontrollable crying. Cravings. If a woman gets too angry, people assume it must be because it’s that time of the month. No wonder women don’t want to talk about their periods. No wonder women don’t publicly divulge when they are menstruating. Who wants that extra scrutiny?!
Women, therefore, hide their bleeding. They hide the pain and cramping. They consider their menstruation an inconvenience. A burden.
I went to a Catholic grade school where I learned that menstruation is a punishment for Eve’s sins. Yes. Seriously. Is it any wonder then that my first periods were unbearably painful to the point of needing to stay in bed?
Periods are disgusting. Female blood in unclean. How many of us believe that?
My approach to bleeding has changed dramatically over the years. Menstruation isn’t a burden for me, but a privilege. It isn’t painful, although I usually like to have a low-key day on the first full day. I spend the first two days of my period pampering myself, which usually includes a bath, reading, and generally lounging around the house, although sometimes I do some yoga as well.
We women have been given this beautiful gift. An indicator of health. If we tune ourselves to our body, we can learn so much from our periods. Just like the moon, we wax and wane. Every month we go through these phases from full energy to a kind of emptiness or closing in. In our blood, we have been given the mystery of the universe and secret to life on this planet.
I feel quite honored to bear this “burden.” I don’t think being a bleeding woman makes me inferior. Menstruation shouldn’t be a shame.
We should talk about it. Yes, I want to encourage women (and men) discussing women’s bleeding. So many of us bleed for a few days every month. It cannot stay a secret, be hidden. That is why I am participating in the #WeBleed writing group. Every month we will write posts about periods, period stigma, women’s reproductive health.
My hope is to encourage discussion, reduce squeamishness, and normalize this very common event. Want to join in? Check out this link.
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