People told stories of how their Mothers cooked a whole chicken when they attainted womanhood! aka saw their monthly period aka the visitor aka that time of the month. Whatever it is called, you get the gist, right? I was in boarding school, so no one cooked a whole chicken for me, but my friend did celebrate like I won a lottery. It was a tradition back then to celebrate your friend when their period came. People who started their period while on holiday came back to either announce it in the hostel or “display” an unused pad in a manner that sends the message.
I can’t remember when I started my period, but I can remember taking sanitary pad to boarding school and “lending” it out with the hope of collecting it back when my period finally started. I never had the opportunity to collect it for some terms, in fact I never collected it back but las las my period came. It came after our teachers and parents had started talking about reproductive system and sexual education. I thought I knew what to expect; use sanitary pad, starts every 25-28 days, stay off groundnut, no salat days, 3-4 days max, stay off “sugary” things, the list was long, so I assumed nothing was omitted. People around me had been on their period. I have two elder sisters so it cannot be that different. Boy, I wish I knew better!
I wish I knew my school uniform was not immune to period stain.
I wish I knew changing my pad every 3 hours does not guarantee a stain-free day.
I wish I knew boys would tease me when I got stained.
I wish I knew my period can come about 2 days earlier.
I wish I knew my period could get delayed for 5-8days.
I wish I knew how to tell people that I was not sleeping because of Ramadan but I was sleeping because I took pain medication and sleeping is one of the side effects.
I wish I knew how to tell people that I am not fasting because it is that time of the month and I could not get an enclosed place to eat.
I wish I knew I would walk out of several examination halls because I could not handle the period pain.
My friend who was not allowed to go out of her house without parental approval wished she knew how to tell her older brother she needed sanitary pad.
Below are some other things that might have been omitted
- Your period can be longer than 5 days, yes, I know people who bleed for 7 days.
- Your period can be shorter than 5 days, I know people who bleed for less than 5 days.
- Your period pain is not universal, some people do not experience any pain. So, don’t blame them when they do not understand your struggle.
- Your threshold for handling pain is not universal. It is ok to use a prescribed pain medication. Please see a gynecologist or doctor to prescribe the best pain medication.
- Your prescribed pain medication might have side effects. Please ensure this is discussed with your doctor.
- Your period flow is not universal, some people do finish a pack of sanitary pad on their first day.
- Your preferred absorbent material is your preference. People should be encouraged and not forced to try other hygienic options – Pads, tampons and menstrual cups.
- Your period blood does have a smell, remember to change your pad as often as possible and clean down there regularly.·
- Discuss with your gynecologist, if your period smell change is accompanied with unusual symptoms·
- Your decision to stay off sugar is not universal. People have different tolerance level for various things during their monthly period. For example, I crave sugary things, I take sugary things, and nothing happens to me but there’s something that I observed that if I do take, I can end up in the clinic or hospital. The goal is to understand your body and know what to stay off during this period.
- Your religion might have a “period ritual”, it is important to understand and learn it if possible.
- If you have a vagina, uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries, it is important you see the gynecologist at least once a year or once in 2 years (depending on your Gynecologist guidance after your first appointment).
- If you have inconsistent monthly cycle, tracking your period might help your Gynecologist understands you better.
Till next time, in the comment section, please include some important points that I might have omitted.
This post was edited by Dolapo Ajayi.
This post was edited by Dolapo Ajayi.