Did you know 76% of students think we are taught more about the biology of frogs than the biology of the human female body in school?
Welcome to Period Diaries — the series where we aim to end the stigma around menstruation. Period. We ask real people how they eat, sleep, and live on their cycle.
In this first edition, a 20-year-old college student from California explains why she uses the pill and how her sex education was like finding Neverland.
How many days does your period usually last? 4
How heavy is your flow (1 to 5)? 2 (light)
How regular is your period (1 to 5)? 1 (very irregular)
Symptoms: Breast soreness/tenderness, Acne, Bloating
Preferred Period Care: Pads
Birth Control: POP (progestin-only pill)
What is your preferred birth control method and why?
I've only ever used the pill. I started it before moving away for college a couple years back, but stopped it after lockdown. I recently restarted it a month ago.
Pros: I like how easily reversible and non-intrusive it is. I use the minipill, which I'm told has less side effects. The main reason I started birth control (or at least the reason I told my mom) was that I have a highly irregular period, so this helps with that.
Cons: I feel like I'm drier down there. I have to be really good about remembering to take it. It's also not that discreet to whip out a pill at dinner when you're with your friends or family. There's always the assumption when they see it of "ohh, she has *sex*."
What was sex education like in your household and schools?
Sex education kind of happened by accident. The first time I learned about periods was from a book I was reading when I was 9 years old. When I asked my mom about it, she was simultaneously working on a laptop while nonchalantly explaining the womanly rite of passage. She ended it by saying, "I'm menstruating right now." That was kind of horrifying to hear as a kid. I pictured bloodshed and gore.
In school, we looked at grainy illustrations of body parts that might as well be maps of Neverland — there were shapes and topography, but nothing that I could picture in real life. I think that health class was 80% learning about STIs and the consequences of teen pregnancy, 15% an anatomy lesson, 5% figuring out what a male condom is.
How easy is it for you to access period care and contraceptive products where you live?
I'm fortunate that I've never been without a pad when I need it. Firstly, because I've always lived close to stores. Secondly, because I'm a little paranoid and stock period care products like I'm NASA (they packed 100 tampons for astronaut Sally Ride's 1-week mission).
8am — I wake up for work and my stomach starts cramping. I try to ignore it and hope it goes away.
8:45am — Instead of going away, it's gotten worse. I pop a Tylenol and read the fine print to see how many I can take in a day without poisoning myself.
12pm — I go to the bathroom and am met with a red stain on white underwear. Now I know why I was so crampy in the morning. I love not knowing when my period will start. /s*
Even though I'm not sexually active, that paranoia pops up when I don't get my period. I've restarted the pill, so hopefully my cycle will eventually follow some sort of rhythm.
8am — Some lovely pimples have popped up on my chin overnight. I stick some zit stickers on and hope they don't get bigger. For now, they're small enough that they don't show up on Zoom. I don't cramp every time I have a period, or even on every day of my period, so it's kind of like Russian roulette — but with more bloodshed. Today, I'm in the clear.
8am — The cramps are back, but my Tylenol is almost out. Hopefully, it'll be enough to get me through the week.
5pm — I'm done with work and craving tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes). I calculate the opportunity cost of cooking and cleaning vs. DoorDash delivery fees.
6pm — I compromise by taking the bus to pickup my order. It's delicious and spicy — then, I remember belatedly that spicy is probably not the best choice while on my period.
I will be forever grateful that my periods are on the shorter side.
12pm — I go to the store to pick up more Tylenol. Since when was Tylenol so expensive? Maybe I should have rationed them more effectively.
2pm — On weekends, I eat at weird times. Today's linner (lunch + dinner) is leftover tteokbokki. I have yet to figure out how to heat tteokbokki up well, but I try to salvage it with water and a pot on the stove.
*/s denotes sarcasm
Period Diaries are meant to reflect an individual's experience and do not necessarily reflect The Pill Club's point of view.
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