I thought I’d start this post off formally because I’m going to talk about a very serious issue which you might have already guessed by my title. Yes, it is known by most women everywhere but it still remains a mystery to understand for everyone, especially men, for since… forever.
So a male colleague asked me a random question. I don’t know, maybe like all men with wives and mothers and sisters AND daughters (imagine the man with all these counterparts, I feel sorry for that dude, it’s back to back menstrual cycles he’ll be experiencing) he was just searching for some answers, trying to make sense of his female loved ones.
And apparently I’m one of the few relatable women he knows (men always seem to ask me these direct kinds of questions they wouldn’t ask other women???) who he thought would give him a straight answer without getting offended. His question was, “Why do women get crazy when they have their period?”
Crazy is a strong word but I understand what he’s saying. I thought about it and at the time I didn’t answer him the way I wanted to and we ended up talking about a situation with his wife that morning that had triggered the question and I tried to make him empathise from her point of view but the question that was really lingering in the air for him was, he didn’t do anything to deserve her reaction and he was trying to figure out why her behaviour was warranted. So I Googled it (yeah, I Google everything!) and other than simple, point form, scientific analysis there are some really vague descriptions on what a period is like on the internet. Is it taboo or something?
So I decided to write my own and it turned into a two part thing, so check part two when you’re done here. I hope he reads my blog but I am going to try to describe what a period is like physically and psychologically from my perspective and from listening to other ladies over the years and let you the readers decide if a raving lunatic is the natural response and maybe it can also answer some of your questions as to why just… everything you were wondering when it comes to this! And I will update this post if I think of anything new.
I would also like to add now that this post is essentially for adults who deal with women they are close to and are trying to understand their behaviour around this time. This may scare some young girls (and adults frankly) so feel free to check these sites below instead for a milder ‘fluffy’ version.
1. What is a period? 2. What is a period?
After this, read on at your own risk.
So, for me it starts a week before the actual thing. Oh joy!
I get what I like to call ‘phantom’ symptoms. Which are basically hints from your body that the real thing is not too far away, a stabbing cramp here that goes away almost immediately or a random dizzy spell there but nothing heavy. This is annoying to say least. Why?
For those who don’t know what it’s like, imagine someone tells you they are visiting you tomorrow but all day they keep calling to tell you they’re on their way, they’re almost there! “Ey, meh bed ready yet?”
So you change your plans, thinking that they’ll arrive early, anxiously waiting for them, watching the hours pass because ALL signs say that they will come TODAY, and then they arrive tomorrow anyway when they originally said they would. -_-
Oh, and there’s also the times when they say they’re coming next week and they come today and you have to drop everything to deal with them because they’re stranded at the airport, calling you and wondering where you are. What do you mean where I am, you said you were coming next week? I didn’t plan for you today. Wouldn’t you get even a little frustrated and pissed when these things happen? Especially if it’s someone you didn’t particularly want to see. Well, it’s like that.
I really wish I could just get all the symptoms at once WHEN I have my period and cut all that crap out beforehand but I guess it’s my body’s way of saying, ‘look out, she’s coming soon, get ready!’ Thanks for looking out for me body.
The system of counting your next menstrual cycle is taught to most girls, I believe, soon after they have their first period so there’s not much guess work as to when it’s coming anymore. For me this system has always been very accurate even in my teens. I expect the marked date will change by a day or two depending on how active I am but mostly the day I check off is the day it comes.
So, the system works for me and for most women so yes, this probably makes it premeditated madness. I am sure I was not the only one thinking that, but does it really?
Anyway, closer to your period, about two days before or the day before, things start to get real. Now for a lot of women retaining water or bloating is the first thing they notice because it affects their figuuuuuuure. You just can’t suck that stomach in the way you used to. You try but it isn’t going anywhere and it feels heavy and (not for me) sometimes hard. Men, and especially women, who like to point out that women look fat during this time deserve what they get.
For those of you who don’t know what is physically going on inside a woman’s body during this time, simply put, a women’s body naturally prepares itself for a baby every month by building up a nice, warm, bed of thick blood in her uterus for it to lay on, (the uterus is located at the base of the ‘visual’ belly) and the days before her period this bed is at its thickest for the month, estrogen levels are up, hence the bloating.
What we call the actual period is the breaking down of this wall because it is not needed since there is no baby present to lie on that bed. If there was a baby there, the wall would keep getting thicker to support it as it grows which means no period would occur, but that would be pregnancy and we’re not talking about that so back to what a period is like.
The bloating doesn’t really bother me. What I do notice right away is the fatigue, and note I said FATIGUE, because this feeling is beyond being just tired. Es muy agotada! I’ve been tired before, like working a double shift in a busy restaurant kitchen tired, where your feet literally throb and feel like they want to fall off afterward.
I feel… so tired
Your whole body just wants to collapse at this time and my legs get it the worst. It’s as if they suddenly weigh three times their normal weight and it feels like I’m lifting lead legs when I walk. Every step leaves me exhausted and I feel these lancing pinpricks on the soles of my feet! And I dance, and I’ve also danced when I was tired, so I know what exhausted legs feel like! So I think fatigue is a fair word to use.
It’s mainly because it’s so sudden. You go to sleep one night fine and just wake up the next morning, exhausted! Like what the hell? You didn’t run a marathon the day before or jog up a steep hill? I actually jogged up a steep, mile long hill once. My fitness level wasn’t great then and when I was finished (after I came down) I literally went, “wow, my legs feel like when I have my period” so that’s the closest thing maybe that I can compare it too for people who want to get an idea!
Some husbands may notice their wives breasts become a bit fuller than they normally are but this is full in a swollen, painful way not a sexy, aroused way. No, we do not need them massaged. Are you crazy! It hurts! I like to sleep on my belly. Can’t do that before or during my period. You also start to get breakouts, anywhere on your body due to the spikes in estrogen levels. There’s disorientation, trouble focusing and sleeping which can then lead to being cranky in the morning because you’re exhausted to begin with and on top of that you didn’t get any sleep.
You have to understand a lot of hormones are dancing around inside women at this time all trying to do something or the other with absolutely NO concern to the person they are dancing around in. For me it feels like a full on attack. My mind is sound but my body is trying to kill me and apart from medication there’s not much I can do about it. And this happens every, single, month. -_-
Now when the period actually starts, yeah, you thought it had started already, didn’t you? Ha! No. So, when it does start, there’s the bleeding which is uncomfortable, will always be uncomfortable and can range from a dripping faucet to a steady flow, depending on what day of your period and the individual woman (her fitness level, eating habits, genetic makeup, etc.).
It’s a constant state of anxiety until this part is over. Wondering if your pad, tampon or whatever you use will be able to keep the bleeding at bay, will you be ultimately embarrassed because the flow is heavier than you thought it was and you didn’t change your ‘stop plug’ in time and it shows on your clothes? I’m sure for some men this is even uncomfortable to read, just the thought of it, right? So imagine how it is for women! Believe me, you will NEVER feel as uncomfortable as we do about this. Sure, we act cool but it’s because we’re hoping if we do no one will notice.
Ah, gravity. I never knew how much the thing existed until I had my first period. It felt like gravity wanted to rip my vagina out to the floor. Of course you will have to deal with the actual cramps, these undulating, hacking, knawing, biting pains that feel as if a gremlin is inside of your uterus digging at the walls with a pitch fork. Your stomach muscles are also connected to your hip, leg and back muscles so the pain reverberates, travelling generously to these areas as well. There is nothing else in life that I have felt that I can use to relate this too. I would not wish it on my worst enemy. I would sooner wish you dead than wish this on you.
Remember the uterus’ wall is actually contracting to ‘rip’ the thick wall of blood away from it because it is not needed anymore. There’s no baby so it has to go. I’m sure labour pains which I’ve heard is ten times worse than a period can compare, which would then be like ten gremlins inside of your uterus digging at the walls with pitch forks. Hmmm. How do women make children more than once? My mother blames it on temporary memory loss which actually makes sense. Why would your brain want to remember that pain?
When I actually start to bleed, the fatigue gets worse because now I’m losing blood. I also get this horrible iron taste in my mouth. It makes everything just taste bad.
I’m not really a junk foodie but that’s all I eat during that time. I do crave it then, but it’s also because it’s the only thing I can actually taste properly because these foods are always extra sweet or extra salty so it overpowers the overpowering metal taste in my mouth. Hormones do not respond well to these foods, so that means more breakouts. There’s also vomiting due to upset stomach, nausea, diarrhea, back pains, headaches, dizziness, loss of appetite, increase in appetite, your heart rate also increases which visibly for me makes my hands shake, the bloating causes you to pee, A LOT. Yes, some women get all these symptoms together. I don’t (Thank God!).
Notice I did not add such things as irritability, mood swings, etc because this post is trying to address why women get like that during their period.
You’re immune system can possibly get weaker during this time, (apparently it’s exhausted too!) so you can get the cold right before your period. *raises hand* This presents a potential problem as you then have to decide which pills to take because mixing medications is a no-no! The mad pills (yes, I call my menstrual pills mad pills) or the cold pill? Calm the craziness or ease the congestion? God, why? This lasts for about a week. The symptoms tend to tee off one by one by the fourth day for me but every woman is different.
Now please remember though a woman’s symptoms during her period varies, ALL of them more or less happens at the SAME time. Simultaneously. Corresponding or parallel to each other. You get it? And none of this was researched. I may have researched the medical reasoning behind some of the symptoms but the symptoms themselves I’m not copying from some medical text book. I am writing from personal experience and from talking to other women over the years of what happens to them during that time.
As a side note, the rest of your menstrual cycle is supposed to be painless. Ovulation starts a few days after your period is over which is typically the horniest time of the month (your body is trying to trick you into having sex at the most opportune time to conceive a baby, don’t fall for it, unless you’re actually trying to have a baby, otherwise be safe). Ovulation doesn’t last long, 48 hours the experts say, but the rest of the cycle more or less goes unnoticed.
But that’s where I’m going to stop for now. Part Two is going to talk more about what I think about peoples reactions, so you would want to read that as well because everybody gets dealt with, trust me.
– Written by Travesaou
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