I have a pad.
Yeah, I’m on my period so I brought a backup in case I needed Health Insurance.
Today, I want to get the 101 on all thing’s periods. And when we’re talking about menstruation, I’m talking about everyone who menstruates, not just girls. So, let’s break it down. What is a normal period supposed to be like?
So, we’ll start with when can you expect your period for people who haven’t started theirs yet. It can be anywhere from age 10 to 15 with the average age being about 12. Periods can range from three to seven days and can happen every 21 to 35 days and actually up to 45 days for the first two years.
As far as how much blood is normal, we generally think of changing your tampons or pads about three to six times over the course of the day. And also, it’s totally normal for it to sometimes be like, bright red blood, and other times be more of a brownish reddish discharge. So, it’s the day. The day has come, you got your period Health Insurance. And what do you do? What products do you use? How do you know which product is right for you?
So, I love that there are a lot of options. There are pads, there are tampons, there are menstrual cups, and there’s even underwear. And I recommend the patient use whatever works for them and that also you may want to use a combination. So maybe use one in the daytime, one at night, or one when you’re participating in an activity, versus when you’re at school. I have a pad. Yeah, I’m on my period Health Insurance. So, I brought a backup in case I needed it.
I have this one, but I could have brought so many more because actually, it’s a funny story. So, my dad buys period products for my sister and myself and my mom in bulk. It’s really important to recognize though that if you are having a change, whatever product you’re using every two hours or less then I would be concerned that that bleeding is considered too heavy and that you may have a risk of having low blood counts.
And so, you should talk to a doctor if you’re doing that that frequently and also, it’s important to note that while tampons are great, we don’t want to keep them in for longer than eight hours.
Why don’t we want to keep them in for longer than eight hours?
Yeah, so there is a risk of having a really serious infection that’s called toxic shock syndrome. And that’s actually one of the reasons why a lot of communities, my own including as a black woman, are afraid of tampons, of this concern that if you use them, that that’s going to happen, but we learned that you actually can use them safely for a safe period of time and so that’s why eight hours is fine.
So, you actually can use them overnight. Although, many adolescents are actually sleeping longer than 8 hours. So, if you’re sleeping longer than eight hours, then you should not be using tampons, just to be safe. Sometimes it’s awkward to be like, hey, I need to go to the bathroom because I’m bleeding through my pants.
So, what are the conversations, or what are the steps that we need to be taking to untangle those stigmas and break down those barriers?
Looking at the larger societal, systematic level. We definitely need to see some changes, you know, our elected officials, our government, agencies, our school districts all have a role to play in addressing this as well and making sure that it is culturally responsive, gender-responsive education on this in schools, that there is a space where students can talk about this without having to feel embarrassed, that these high-quality products are being provided not just in one single bathroom in the school.
This is something that we need to see our elected officials taking action on – to make sure that is being provided. We see that stigma around using tampons. My mom never really like, introduced tampons to me. It was just like pads straight off the bat. I guess you can let me know if this is a myth or if this is true.
This idea that using a tampon is going to, you know, take away your virginity. Is that true?
So, the common myths about tampons are, one, Yes, that it somehow changes your virginity or also that like you can only use it if you’ve ever had sex or as we talked about already that there’s this risk that of an infection. And then I think there’s also just not a lot of information about, how do I even put them in? And I tell patients that actually, it’s an important way to practice using them because they give you an opportunity to learn your body. Patients from certain cultural communities, when I’m asking them like, hey, what menstrual products are you using and how often do you change them?
They’ll tell me. Oh, I only use pads. So, I definitely welcome everybody recognizing all those things are myths and are not true, that tampons are safe to use. A lot of youth actually don’t have access to both information about their periods Health Insurance and also, they don’t have access to period products in general.
How can we kind of tackle that issue? This is something that is known as period poverty, which means lack of access to period products that are needed. Just imagine a society where period products were available in all public facilities. So, I really do think it starts with investment, right?
Why are toilet paper and soap-free in public bathrooms, but period products are not, right?
That is a question that we need to be asking and that is something that our governments need to be addressing. We do have the money for it, right? It’s just about prioritizing funding and making sure that it is being properly allocated to provide these resources. So, I kind of want to like talk to the people that are watching this article about, you know, a personal challenge that they can take on when it comes to their period.
So that every single one of us can, you know, make a shift altogether. We either are menstruators or know a menstruator. So literally this affects everybody. Access to health information about periods for girls and gender expansive youth is critical to their safety. The shame and stigma on this issue need to be gone, right? We need to keep talking about this and we need to have these conversations openly and honestly.
Something that is so ingrained and socialized in us like even I myself as an advocate, I have these moments where I’m like, oh my God, like I feel some kind of shame or stigma around the fact that I’m carrying a period product and going to the bathroom right in public. I’ve definitely had those moments.
I remember when I was in high school and I had to go to the bathroom to change my pad, you know, pulling it up to my sleeve, and then going, and then, you know, doing some secret exchange with another person. I want to challenge everybody watching this article.
Next time that you are in a situation where you feel embarrassed or shy about your period, about a period product, get past it. Just try to, you know, when you’re in class and you raise your hand, I want to go to the bathroom right now because I am on my period.
And I think those individual actions are going to lead to those bigger shifts because we each have the power within us Thank you guys so much for being a part of this conversation. And if you’re watching this article right now and you have any more questions, please do speak to your healthcare provider or an adult in your life that you trust.