Sex. Blood. Poop. Fart. Pimple.
There. Now that we have broken the ice, we can get on with it!
I may be more vulgar than most people would appreciate, but I still think there needs to be an open and honest dialogue about these things. Still to this day, even as a woman, I sometimes feel uncomfortable talking about periods; there is an underwire of stigma poking into my side.
I delayed writing this piece because it’s not overtly inspiring. It’s just in-your-face, raw, messy, and not your run-of-the-mill read—but that’s exactly why I want to tackle it.
I think of bodily functions in a similar light that I do emotions. We all have this distorted view of how things should be, so we hide our feelings and women act like they never poop or fart. Yes, I think in the last decade there have been some improvements in the overall atmosphere toward both emotions and basic body processes, but not enough. The real kicker is that we have become conditioned to feel shame around the calls of nature; it’s as if we think we can transcend the fact that we are nothing more than high-functioning animals by pretending we don’t have buttholes.
I realized how deeply rooted the shame around period blood was when I had an IUD put in for the first time. So let’s mount this saddle of awkwardness, feet in the stirrups of the gyno office and all.
They insert the little device they dig around your naughty bits, and I remember making a comment to the doctor about the fact that I wasn’t bleeding just a little. I’m talking a soaked super tampon every few hours. Gross? It really shouldn’t be, but I was specifically talking about it because I was so uncomfortable, and my approach when feeling this way is to point a fat finger at the elephant in the room (much like this article).
It’s also important to add that when an IUD is put in, it is actually ideal to be bleeding on the day of insertion. Unfortunately, this situation is less than ideal for ultra domesticated folk with no holes for body fluids to come from…but again, it really shouldn’t be a platform for shame! When describing the experience to a close friend, I explained the feeling of hot embarrassment as I was laying there, flat-backed on a puppy pad (no joke), and the blood ran down my butt crack. The truly sad part is the fact that I was in an environment with professionals, in their recommended physical state, and I was feverish with discomfort about my own blood.
Now, I’m a fan of playing devil’s advocate, so let’s argue that the situation with the IUD and that embarrassment makes sense because it’s not someone I knew or felt any level of comfort with.
Fair, but it didn’t end there. Once you have an IUD placed, or even when starting a new birth control, there is a massive influx of change in the body. Hormone levels are not level, and it takes time for the period flow to figure out what it wants to do. In short, the bleeding continues on and off in tantrums for a few months. Maybe the time period is less for some, but either way, I would wager that the cycle is not immediately consistent.
Even someone who has suffered from inconsistency in their bleeding, in general, can relate to this next part:
So I have that little IUD perfectly placed in its new home, and my bleeding is no longer heavy, but it’s that horrible almost-brown color that occurs when spotting rather than the fresh, bright-red kind of queens. It’s not the cute kind of blood; it’s lowly peasant blood, and every time my husband wants to have sex it’s all I can think about.
Let that sink in. This is the human being I have devoted myself to, for a lifetime, and I am worried about a little blood?
Yes. I felt shame. I actually felt angry at my body as if it were misbehaving. I would withdraw from my husband, even though I still had those newlywed cravings for his body, and he felt it.
In reality, there is a dual purpose to this piece: to open a dialogue about taboo things that should not be taboo and in the process break my pattern of shaming the body. My husband didn’t care in the slightest about my bleeding, and this is by no means a male-shaming piece. It was my own personal discord with a poignantly female process. I hated how the sheets looked like an old tie-dyed rag after. I didn’t feel sexy.
Note to self: isn’t it sexy and empowering that a female body can endure so much? We lose blood and literally shed parts of ourselves every month and still survive. In a way, our periods are like crimson (or any other hue) banners of our invincibility. They’re reminders of how incredibly awesome the human body is and that it needs to be celebrated rather than demonized.
The world has become a severely sterile place where all traces of genuine everyday bodily functions can’t seem to fit in, so it’s polarizing discussions like this that will hopefully bring us, myself included, back to a place of understanding.
Let’s talk taboo more often so we can grow genuine connections and truly live happily.