It’s not easy being a woman. The one week of the month I feel sorry for myself, I hate my body, I hate my skin, nothing fits properly, nothing I do feels comfortable and I hate that every month I am required to walk around in what feels like an adult nappy. It’s tough being a woman! It’s also tough being a man but at least they can choose if they want to shave every day and it is socially acceptable if they decide not to. I thought I would share with you why I dread my period and my top five tips for surviving them!
I’m not often one for discussing things so personal as periods/AF/time of the month/menstrual cycles but for the last four years, I’ve realised that I am not alone! I was surprised by how many women could sympathise or experienced the hell that some of us experience, an experience that medical professionals feel that a packet of pills with solve the problem!
The Period Problem
I was 13 and a half (April 1996), it was during my PE lesson (would you believe) when the period gods shined down on me and greeted me with what would for most of my teenage years control my life! I was first greeted with the sudden realisation that everyone would ‘know’ that suddenly I would have this neon sigh above my head that pointed down and said ‘on her period’, then came the panic of ‘oh my god, can they see I’m wearing a towel!’ This pretty much continues for a couple of years, prompting regular trips to the loo. Then once a few more girls joined the ‘club’ boys became aware and if you left the classroom to sneak to the toilet ‘god forbid taking your bag’ it was across the class. ‘On her period’, there’s the neon sign again! As girls, I don’t remember sitting around with my friends drinking tea discussing periods, in fact, I was the earliest of my friends.
Not Just Menstrual Bleeding
I learnt very quickly it wasn’t just about the menstrual bleeding, there were the headaches, spot eruptions, mood swings, nausea and stomach aches and for me feeling dizzy. I hated life especially at 17 my cycles regularated (apparently) and I was sudden over come with extreme pain and not being able to leave the house for the first 48 hours for fear of a bloody body malfunction (literally). My first trip to see the least compassionate gynagologist! Please explain why they are men??? He told me just to take painkillers, go on the pill and when I had kids it would sort it’s self out! I was 18! Kids wasn’t on my mind! So I took the birth control pill, was great for the flow not so great with the pain and made me ill. I told myself never again!
Years, pass. You get on with the monthly groan of ‘oh, here we go again, please I don’t want children anyway!’ (Maybe just me) and suddenly you also realise that you are allergic to towels, tampons and in fact most sanitary wear! PMS hit me pretty hard, I’d get hot flushes, faint, feel sick, emotional, angry, get the shakes and that was on top of period pain, heavy bleeding and stomach upsets. It was pretty consistent. I’d had enough and approached a Doctor again for help. There were no reason for the heavy periods, I was just unlucky and told having a baby would regulate my cycle and reduce the issues. There we go again with the ‘have a baby’, seemed to be the answer for everything (if only they could see me now).
In the Baby Zone
Marriage, house buying and baby number one. Which took five years, then came baby number two and up until four years ago I was pretty good, then it all went crazy and it was like being 18 (and my god, I don’t want to relive those times). I approached my GP, who sent me for tests, nothing solid so sent on my way, although I had small polysytic ovaries.
Currently, my monthly cycles consist of pain that feels like I am in early labour, my ovaries are trying to escape from my body and this is accompanied by heavy bleeding. More tests, and all appears well but every month I feel like locking myself away for six days. I know I’m not the only woman to handle this but it feels like it is our own personal struggle.
So, I’ve been thinking about ‘self-care’ how I make myself feel better when my body is turning against me! Here are some of my tips…
1. Pain Relief
Sometimes despite my best efforts, deep breathing and yoga positions they are not going to ease the pain so I reach for the pain relief.
a) Paracetamol – Basic and not effective for me anymore.
b) Ibuprofen – I know not everyone can take it due to various allergies and reasons but it’s probably one of the most effective.
c) Feminax – I highly recommend ‘Feminax’ you can buy them in all good supermarkets or pharmacies, as well as Amazon. They are on the expensive side. It was my GP that actually recommended I try them as it covered more than just the pain.
d) Prescription Painkillers & Flow – If like me the painkillers don’t really touch the sides. I approached my GP who has prescriped be with a painkiller and blood thiner (type) in one. I can only take it the first three days of my period but after that normal Ibuprofen is enough.
2. Hot Water Bottle
One of my fave Amazon purchases this year has been my Hotties Microhottie Microwavable Hot Water Bottle in purple fleece. I bought it from Amazon and although coming in at £11.49, it was worth the expense. You place the pad inside a microwave for two minutes and it’s so cosy.
Before this I had tried Cura Heat Period Pain which I also purchased from Amazon. Now, I love these because they are discrete and I can walk around forgetting that it there but I find that the heat wasn’t very strong and didn’t really have much effect on my own pain, that’s not to say that they wouldn’t work for other ladies. Just not for me.
3. Hot Bath
We all know what a warm bath can do to help us unwind, light a few candles, throw in a Lush bath bomb (my personal faves are The Big Sleep and Big Blue) find a mindfulness app on your phone or maybe your fave chill out tunes and shut out the outside world for a while.
4. Duvet/Blanket with Netflix
Now, I love a good duvet day. There really is nothing better than curling up in bed with a Netflix series on, a cup of tea and shutting out the world. If only every day was a duvet day!
I’m a mum of two and my youngest is disabled so you can imagine how much time I get to pamper myself but occasionally I like to apply a face mask, paint my nails and if I’m really in the mood a deep cleansing hair treatment. I am currently using the TRESemmè Keratin Smooth Deep Treatment Masque which I feel is reasonably priced and not too expensive. I have never tried any other versions but if anyone has any of their own recommendations please let me know.
When it calls for a sick day
It is often underestimated how generally ill it can make me. I’ve had months when the pain is okay but the PMS is off the charts, then I’ve had months when the pain and flow is outrageous and it’s hard to function. I’m not one for sick days unless I really don’t feel well but I wish I did consider my body more. I think I see my ‘period’ as just another reminder that I’m quickly heading towards my menopause and I will spend 10 years or so hating my body more than I do right now. Is it hormones? Is it my weight? Is it just the luck of the draw? Probably a little bit of it all.
I remember the sick days when I was 15 and at school. Who wants to spend eight or so hours sat behind a desk, watching the clock for the next break time or having everyone watch you because you have your head over a bucket (yep, I was that girl). I’m not heading towards the time in my life when my daughter is approaching hers. I worry she will have my fate and my god she will not cope. I’ve tried preparing her with books about ‘my body’, they changes and all that in an attempt that she might be pepared. I also have my fingers crossed that she will have normal periods with little pain and cope beautifully.
Do you dread your periods like me? Do you have your own self-care tips? Thank you for reading Why I dread my periods and my top five self-care tips. If you want more lifestlye tips and self-care tips please check out my other post about my weight loss battle.