Live Through This

Bad Blood

The period I had so desperately wanted not only arrived, it arrived with force.

Illustration by Sonja

I got my first period the day before my 11th birthday. I’d been lying about it for months, saying that it had already come, because one of the other girls in my very small middle school class got her period before I did, and I was jealous. Menstruating seemed so adult, so womanly, that it was downright sexy. But there it was, finally! My mother had an elegant friend who had taken her daughter for tea at the Plaza to celebrate her first period, and so we did that, too. Instead of feeling like Eloise—who was, after all, a child—I felt like a movie star.

In high school, when other girls began to bleed unexpectedly, they always came to me, knowing that I had a stash of tampons on my person that would last most women several months. Super plus tampons, super tampons, regular tampons, bulky pads, panty-liners, Advil. I had it all. The period I had so desperately wanted had not only arrived, it had arrived with force. The folded-paper instruction manual that came with each enormous box of tampons claimed that a normal menstrual flow was about two ounces of blood per month. I felt like I lost that much in an hour. Every trip to the doctor ended with her telling me that I was terribly anemic, which I knew. How could I not be? The blood was leaving my body at such a high rate that I was surprised there was any left for her to take.

Once, one of my male friends’ younger sisters came up to me in the lobby of our school. She was a freshman, and I was a senior. “I’ve had a tampon in for two days,” she said. “I forgot about it.” She looked at me for advice, perhaps because I was older and wiser, but also, I presume, because she knew I was some kind of menstrual oracle. I couldn’t imagine leaving a tampon in for more than two hours, let alone two days. My own period was already so bad—the cramps, the bleeding—that I’d gone on the birth control pill to try to beat it into submission.

It was the end of high school by the time I realized that bleeding every month sucked, and it quickly went from “sucked” to “actually ruining my life.” The birth control pills worked for a while—my cramps improved, but the bleeding was still heavy. Every few months, my college roommate came home with a new box of Tampax slenders, tampons that I could make expand just by looking at them. Meanwhile, I doubled up on pads and supers, and bled through onto my sheets anyway, easily going through one large box of supplies during every period, if not more. I’d had some sporty-ish friends, the kind of people who wanted to play intramural softball or pick-up basketball, or go camping, during that time of the month, and my first thought was always: how can you do anything that is so far away from a bathroom? How can you be so cavalier? My period lasted a solid week, if not more, heavy for the first few days, and heavier than most people’s normal periods even on my lightest days. I knew every single bathroom on my college campus intimately.

As I got older, I’d look at my schedule and cringe when I saw that I was due for my period, knowing how much harder it will make everything I’m supposed to do. (Taking the subway to work for 40 minutes? Impossible. I can’t be away from a bathroom for that long.) I’d fill my purse with pills and supplies, wear my oldest, darkest underwear, and hope for the best. The feeling is like boarding an airplane when you know there’s going to be extreme turbulence. The ride is going to be bumpy, but you have no choice but to get on board.

A couple of years ago, I went off the pill for the first time in over a decade. Though intellectually I understood that the hormones in the pills had been controlling my period, it was nonetheless a shock to see the change. My period went from heavy-but-not-completely-insane to the hallway scene in The Shining. And because I realized how much garbage I was producing every month—all those applicators, all those cardboard boxes, all those little plastic sleeves—I’d switched to a hippie option, the DivaCup, which my friends (and my pals here at Rookie) swore by. One friend told me it was so great, she’d empty it once or twice a day, and that was it! She practically had stars in her eyes. I was sold.

You know the phrase “my cup runneth over”? Not to be disgusting, but my cup ranneth over every half hour. I was traveling a lot at the time, with the band I work for and doing research for my novel, and sometimes I would be in transit all day long, timing my bathroom-stop requests as far apart as I could, waiting until the last second to board airplanes, running through gas stations because I didn’t want to ruin one of only a few dresses in my suitcase. I sprinted into filthy bathrooms, into Porta-Potties, into places I would usually avoid like the plague. Waiting for a clean spot (ideally, my own bathroom) just wasn’t an option.

The blood was everywhere. It was on my clothes, on my skin, on the toilet bowl, on the bathroom floor. I couldn’t control it, not with Advil or with expensive pills from my gynecologist that were supposed to stanch my flow. Or rather, the pills worked, they cut the bleeding by a third on the heaviest days, but a third of a monsoon is still a monsoon. I went for dinner at a friend’s house and sat on her beautiful vintage chaise lounge, because she asked me to, because she knew I’d love it, and then did nothing but think about the possibility of ruining it all night long. I left work early, I left parties early, and cancelled plans left and right. On my heaviest days, I had half an hour between visits to the bathroom, if I was lucky. I got no sleep, even with an old towel tucked underneath my body, just in case. Each period lasted more than a week, sometimes two, and left me feeling like I’d been through a war. Even though most people with functional ovaries between the ages of approximately 12 and 45 menstruates, most of them don’t have to worry about the shame of having an accident, the weird looks from friends and co-workers when you excuse yourself every 30 minutes, and all that blood.

People loved to give advice. One friend recommended I try acupuncture, which I’d done before and had helped with other physical ailments. I took herbal remedies, and of course iron, so much iron. The acupuncture was fine, until I bled through my clothes on the table, leaving a small round stain behind, and then drove myself home crying, knowing I wouldn’t make it home fast enough to avoid another accident.

After a year of this, I finally went to a new doctor. What took me so long, I have no idea. I think I always assumed that this was just my cross to bear, that nothing could be done, that it wasn’t that bad. Never mind that I had never—never—met anyone with periods like mine. Because I’d always been healthy, it truly never occurred to me that there could be any actual problem. It took visits to several specialists, but finally, after months (which, of course, meant more periods) my new doctor (also known as my queen, my goddess, my deliverer from evil) discovered the gigantic colony of fibroids that had been wreaking havoc on my uterus. My doctor explained them to me like this: a normal uterus squeezes itself every month, contracting to rid itself of its lining. She squeezed her fist together, the way you’d squeeze a lemon. When you have a fibroid, a non-cancerous cyst, it can interfere with normal uterine contractions, and so the bleeding can’t regulate itself—the uterus wants to keep squeezing and squeezing, shedding more and more blood. This summer, I had two surgeries to remove them—one giant monster fibroid and then several little baby-monster fibroids, too many to count, like Gremlins.

The surgeries weren’t bad—I got to go home afterward—and I was pretty much back to normal within a week. I was lucky in this regard—some people have far more invasive surgeries, depending on the position of the fibroid. Friends sent me boxes of snacks and comic books and flowers, and my husband took excellent care of me, sweetly hopeful that the worst was behind us. My only regret is that I waited so long to figure out what was wrong. I think it’s a good lesson about knowing your own body—if something seems like it’s fucked up, it probably is. I don’t think I’ll ever be reluctant to call a doctor again.

There are, of course, reasons why having your period is a good thing. I would never have gone on those pills that reduce your period to four times a year, because that just seems weird to me. The clockwork regularity of my period is comforting to me—it’s satisfying to know that my body’s doing its thing just fine. Having your period is also a great way to know that you’re not pregnant, which can be very reassuring. For obvious reasons, I’m way, way past the point of seeing any charm whatsoever in my monthly visitor, but I know that it’s a minor inconvenience for most people. I wish that I still felt as excited about that particular part of becoming an adult as I did when I was in junior high school.

Though it’s still early to tell for sure, my life seems to have improved. I’ve had one fairly normal period. I still know all the best public bathrooms in the city (if you’re in downtown Manhattan, forget the Apple Store, and go to Room & Board, trust me). I still carry enough feminine products to act as a dam in a pinch, though with the DivaCup now able to handle my flow, I need them more for my own peace of mind. The fibroids will almost certainly grow back, so my reprieve might be short-lived, but I’m happy to take what I can get. It was so bad for so long, I don’t quite believe that the blood is gone forever. Every month, I’ll cross my fingers and hope for the best, and if it gets really debilitating again, I won’t wait another month before going back to the doctor. I’m not going to join any swim teams in the meantime, or hike up Mount Kilimanjaro, but who knows—I might have a whole three weeks of freedom. It’s a start. ♦

87 Comments

  • Sparletta October 24th, 2012 11:15 PM

    “The feeling is like boarding an airplane when you know there’s going to be extreme turbulence. The ride is going to be bumpy, but you have no choice but to get on board.”

    This.

  • julietpetal October 24th, 2012 11:23 PM

    I was on the pill for almost 6 years and stopped taking it about 8 weeks ago for various reasons, and just had my first period since then…oh man had I forgotten how much worse they are! On birth control, my period would come like clockwork, be so light I only used about 4 tampons and some liners each month and be gone after three days. The period I just had, I went through about 8 tampons in the first day alone and it lasted 6 days! Ergh. I’m hoping it was so heavy because I haven’t had a period in six months or so and will be back to normal next month! Anyway, I feel you!

  • Nickysperanza October 24th, 2012 11:33 PM

    Oh man. We women are so strong. Our bodies actually SHED THE UTERUN WALL. When I was younger and missed my period I would actually get scared and think I was the next Virgin Mary.

    http://www.gimmeebrains.tumblr.com

    • BritishFish October 25th, 2012 12:40 AM

      Oh my god, me too!!!

    • periwinkle_dreams October 25th, 2012 1:06 AM

      haha ME TOO! I was like 15, a virgin, and I’d already missed two months and it looked like the third wasn’t happening either, and I distinctly remember freaking out and thinking, “IMMACULATE CONCEPTION???” Turns out I was just really irregular. lol

    • raggedyanarchy October 25th, 2012 2:50 AM

      The number of times I’ve stopped and legitimately thought I was the next Vrigin Mary is appalling.

    • Abby October 25th, 2012 8:57 AM

      I basically think this every time I miss one. And I’m eighteen haha.

    • Ella W October 25th, 2012 12:43 PM

      haha me too!!!!! even though i’m a virgin and everything, i’ve never even kissed a boy, but if i’m even 3 days late I immediately think, ‘am I PREGNANT!!’

    • dandelions October 25th, 2012 2:38 PM

      “… and think I was the next Virgin Mary. ”

      <3

      • Kathryn October 25th, 2012 5:29 PM

        you guys i thought i was the only one <3

    • Lorelei October 25th, 2012 6:32 PM

      In like 8th grade I missed mine for like 3 months and quietly freaked out while considering immaculate conception as a legitimate possibility. Now when it happens I’m just like “YAY, a month off!”

    • Juli October 25th, 2012 9:22 PM

      seriously, same story here. i remember a month after my first period, i didn’t get it for another two months. suffice to say, i was scared out of my mind. i still wore pads the whole two months, as if it was happening anyway, and as if i were going completely psychotic.

  • kendallkh October 24th, 2012 11:34 PM

    Ugh this is exactly how my period is for just the first day or two. I always have this anxious feeling in the pit of my stomach that my tampon is leaking and I wake up in the middle of the night with my heart pounding at the thought that I might have bled onto my sheets. It’s not bad enough to consult a doctor, but man, I hate periods.

  • old hands October 24th, 2012 11:36 PM

    one of my friend’s mom had these periods where she was literally unable to stand up the pain was that bad. she just would lie in bed and bleed. but she never got it checked out and now she’s too old to get periods. weird.

    and i got my period at 16 and felt like a freak, a free careless freak, for most of high school.

    periods are so silly!!!ugh

    • FlaG October 25th, 2012 12:51 AM

      I got mine when I was 14, and by then most of my classmates were already long experienced :P And a friend of mine told me her sister only started when she was 15. So it’s not entirely uncommon :)

  • rebasaurusbex October 24th, 2012 11:37 PM

    dude I got my first P-bomb the morning of my bat mitzvah. if theres one thing worse than a crowd of smelly middle-aged brooklyn-based jewish aunts who’ve said one too many “L’haim! ‘s,” its when they announce into the DJ’s microphone that their niece “REALLY became a woman today. REALLY. ;) ”

    but at least there was an entire cake with my face on it, so, you know, i survived.

    • EveyMarrie October 25th, 2012 12:11 AM

      You poor soul. Omg, I would have stuck my face into the cake and stayed there. The entire party. lol

    • Emma S. October 25th, 2012 7:22 AM

      Oh no! That is hilarious and awful and a story to tell for the rest of your life. xoxoxo

    • Abby October 25th, 2012 8:59 AM

      Haha I like how the cake with your face on it was the redeeming quality of the party… but really though…. that is… evil…

  • Blythe October 24th, 2012 11:44 PM

    Oof. I was never that bad, but my periods were two weeks long (with about four HOLY FUCK MONSOON days) and always a few days off from when I thought they would start. It got to the point where I had to stay home sometimes and I was having fainting spells.
    I’m now on the pill with no breaks and goddamn I don’t care if I irreparably fuck up my reproductive system, it is so worth it.

  • EveyMarrie October 24th, 2012 11:46 PM

    Ugh, sometimes I’m okay with my period, but other times, I want to kill it.

    My period is incredibly short, lasting 3 to 4 days, but it comes down hard enough to be rocking extra-long supers and changing 3 to 4 times a day and scrubbing blood out of my underwear/pants/sheets.

    And I get insane cramps/nausea/migraines the day of/before where I will wake up 3 in the morning, head over the toliet, and spend until the afternoon with a heating pad at maximum heat and a Midol close to tears.

    I hate the cramps/nausea more than I do the blood part. And god forbid I have dairy on my first day. I’m legit lactose intolerant while on my period >>

  • thebrownette October 25th, 2012 12:02 AM

    i know i’m lucky in the sense that mine isn’t CRAY heavy anymore, but up until i went vegan (about 6 months ago), i had this really STRANGE aching all down my legs combined with a soreness down there that made me feel like my entire body-down to my bones-was nauseous…i would literally lie in bed 2-3 out of the 8 days i had my period and pray to fall asleep. anyone else ever get that?

    • julietpetal October 25th, 2012 1:46 AM

      One of my close friends has endometriosis and did a huge amount of research on how to cope with it naturally and as a result went wheat free and vegan and it has helped SO much. So maybe its all connected somehow.

      • thebrownette October 29th, 2012 3:13 PM

        huh! that’t awesome. one of my friends is getting tested for that now.

    • Abby October 25th, 2012 9:01 AM

      Going vegan can do some crazy stuff to you… My best friend is more like vegetarian, but mostly vegan, and I got us these matching bracelets, and while the copper turns my skin green, hers is fine….. weird.

    • a-anti-anticapitalista October 26th, 2012 11:04 AM

      YES! I dooo. And are you eating less gluten and sugar since you became vegan?

      • thebrownette October 29th, 2012 3:12 PM

        hmm….maybe? probably not less gluten, but likely, less refined sugars. i definitely love my veggies now, though! try pepto bismal. it didn’t always help me, but sometimes, it did. i swear though, the first month i was vegan, my period came and ALL THE SUDDEN IT WASN’T HELLISH. i barely notice it now, though, other than some light cramping.

  • I.ila October 25th, 2012 12:03 AM

    this is a wonderful article! I was wondering when rookie was going to do another post on sex/menstruation/stuff like that and here it is! I also laugh at/am jealous of my friends who only wear liners for their periods, while I wear liners every freaking day… They are also amazed at super plus tampons. But my least favorite part of the month is when I have to wash all my underwear, pajamas and sheets because there is blood everywhere.

  • laughinguacamole October 25th, 2012 12:08 AM

    Dude, I totally use that “cup overfloweth” line, too. It literally was said one time in church while I had my loverly Lunette in operation.

    *mental high five for awesomeness*

    http://alovearmy.tumblr.com/

  • Madeleine Angel October 25th, 2012 12:20 AM

    This article is perfect for me because of this past horrid week!!! Sorry if tmi… haha
    http://madeleineangel.tumblr.com/post/28039635673/what-my-dad-sends-me-when-he-knows-im-on-that

    • Abby October 25th, 2012 9:02 AM

      I’m pretty sure we’re ALL past TMI right now haha.

  • resonance October 25th, 2012 12:35 AM

    Your period sounds like it was way worse than taking a turbulent plane ride!

    I thought that being on birth control pills was supposed to help with uterine fibroids, but I guess yours were too big for the medication to make a difference. I’m glad that you were able to get the surgery, and that you know what to do if they grow back.

  • TessAnnesley October 25th, 2012 12:37 AM

    This article is amazing and I also LOVE Sonja’s illustration… so beautiful and disturbing and full of double meanings…

  • BritishFish October 25th, 2012 12:46 AM

    This is why I love this site so much! I was a victim of the bathroom visits every 30 minutes and the leaking during school and missed school most days because of the pain. It was holding me back and I cannot believe how strong you are for dealing with worse but ever since going on the pill my period is 3 days and I can leave a tampon in for sometimes 5 or 6 hours. It’s not right to have something like that control your life most of the year and your sleep and thoughts. Ugh I could rant forever but basically I’m so happy pills work for me and I’m scared for the day I’d have to stop or something and I think we all should celebrate freedom from the monthly shark week from hell.

  • FlaG October 25th, 2012 12:50 AM

    My periods are generally fine, once in a blue moon I’ll get uncomfortable cramping but thankfully nothing as debilitating as you’ve described (or some the experiences of my friends). In my experience, Ponstan usually helps to stem some of the bleeding on the second day, and works as a great painkiller.
    Though I am chronically anaemic, despite taking iron supplements – so I feel you on that front. Apparently I just can’t absorb iron or B12 well enough naturally (my GP/lab tech has even suggested I might have some form of thalassaemia).

  • ohhellohi October 25th, 2012 1:02 AM

    wow, i could have written this. my period is incredibly heavy and always has been (i got it when i was 15 and i am 28 now)
    its gotten heavier recently and the blood clots are getting bigger and bigger (literally the size of my palm)
    I am in extreme pain, to the point where i plan my life around my period. it used to be one day of cramps and then id be fine but lately its more like 3 or 4 days followed by feelings of such fatigue that getting out of bed is a challenge.
    every doctor i’ve seen has only offered me birth control (which i took and felt emotionally unstable on and so i quit)
    this has inspired me to keep seeking out the right gyno and demand they check for cysts, fibroids and also endometriosis (i have all the symptoms)

    none of my friends could ever fully sympathize with me. my sister gets a normal, light, pain free period and always thought i was exaggerating when i’d be sobbing for cramps.
    I always buy super plus tampons but can easily go through on in about 20 minutes. I truly thought this is just the way my body worked. that i’d always have to deal with it. you’ve given me hope. its actually just refreshing to hear someone who has had the same experiences as me

    • Emma S. October 25th, 2012 7:24 AM

      Do go to the gyno–I had to go see three different ones before I found a doctor I liked who really had a plan. There are lots of fibroid specialists out there–go find one, seriously. There are a million tests, but then you’ll know for sure, and be able to plan a course of action. Good luck!

  • DitzyMo October 25th, 2012 1:03 AM

    I always skip more than 3 months, once even 6 months. I’ve never been on any pill but I’ve always been like this and I actually can say I always really crave my period. I wish it would just come regularly, I feel so out of place with random periods and I never know when it comes so I always ruin a nice pair of panties!!

  • I.ila October 25th, 2012 1:03 AM

    oh, actually a tip: I survive on Ginger tea. I mean, there’s still the one day of hellish nausea, cramps and pain, but without the ginger tea it turns into more like 3 days of pain and I feel like it makes my flow a little… gentler? I just thought i’d let people know.

    • Isabelle97 October 25th, 2012 2:39 PM

      thanks, I will DEFS try that :)

  • poison ivy October 25th, 2012 1:08 AM

    oh man. thats bad. i got it when i was in fourth grade, and i was the first in my class, before the 6th graders even, i think. i didnt talk about it, it was too embarrassing to me. for the first 2 years it was really heavy and completely irregular, then THANK GOD it mellowed out. i used to think i had it bad, though! yikes!

  • periwinkle_dreams October 25th, 2012 1:12 AM

    I definitely recommend seeing a doctor sooner rather than later. In my case, it wasn’t really awful – just 12-14 day periods, very heavy flow the whole time (normal-heavy, not fibroid-heavy), and I could never predict when it would happen. There wasn’t even a range of days it could begin; it was literally any time. Sometimes it’d start for four days, stop for three or four, and then go on for six more. Sometimes I’d miss it completely, even multiple months in a row. It was like that for the first four years until I finally asked my doctor about it. She said something in doctor-speak about uterine bleeding and gave me birth control. I LOVE IT SOOO MUCH! I now have a five day period, and I know EXACTLY when it will start, almost to the exact hour. It is fabulous.

  • ninesometimes October 25th, 2012 1:21 AM

    girl, i read this — and before i got to the fibroids part — i was all: she’s got fibroids. didn’t find out about mine until age 28 (thank you saturn return). what’s made them stay away post-surgery & regulated my moontime? nature’s way dim-plus. i swear by those pills. they are the ONLY thing that has helped. good luck!

    • Emma S. October 25th, 2012 7:25 AM

      I’m going to buy those tomorrow, whatever they are!

  • raggedyanarchy October 25th, 2012 1:44 AM

    God. Periods are literally the worst. I’ve had cramps that made me throw up. And headaches, and cravings for strange foods, and I get really sullen and moody. Geez, the symptoms of PMS and pregnancy are eerily similar…

  • marineo October 25th, 2012 1:46 AM

    I wish you the best of luck! I hope your fibroids stay away!

    Related: I totally understand what it’s like to feel like a medical condition is “your cross to bear.” I have had mucus in my throat constantly since 5th grade and tons of ear infections. As in, several every year. But the doctor I was seeing kept saying that i was allergic to milk (I didn’t have milk products for a whole year! and nothing happened! and she still thought I was allergic to milk.)
    But finally I had to admit that this wasn’t working. But it is a strange thing to switch doctors because doctors are supposed to be super smart and whatnot and you are just a lowly layman.

    But I switched. Finally. and it was awesome.
    Turns out I had a whole host of sinus issues, including massive polyps in the sinuses under my eyes (which explained the ear infections and also why it sometimes felt like someone was hitting my cheeks with a hammer) wildly inflamed turbinates, and a deviated septum just to top it off.
    and so I had sinus surgery and although the mucus in my throat is still there, I haven’t had an ear infection since!

    • O. October 25th, 2012 6:57 PM

      OMG I have mucus in my throat constantly too! My sinuses are also messed up which means I can rarely breathe through my nose with ease. I had sinus surgery over the summer and it was a bit better until I got cold and then it went back to normal but anyway I digress – I am so relieved I am not the only person suffering from this. I find it so embarrassing.

    • marcelle42 October 25th, 2012 10:47 PM

      I got bronchitis 8 times in a year and a half from mucus going from my sinues to my throat going to my lungs. It was allergies from a new living situation, but we thought it was pneumonia, a fungal lung infection, asthma, all kinds of things. The thing that finally helped was recommended by a Fancy Specialist at a Fancy Hospital: nasal lavage. AKA Neti Pot or Sinus Rinse. Twice a day, every day. No more sinus infections, bronchitis once in the last two years. Easy peasy, cheap and non-prescription to top it off.

      Obviously, no cure for polyps or a deviated septum, but aces for helping with more mucus than the rest of your body wants.

  • punkplaid October 25th, 2012 5:46 AM

    i’m sorry you had to go through that and i understand what you mean, but for some people the 4-periods-a-year pill is necessary. i suffer from chronic migraines, and before i found a doctor who would put me on the pill (there is a risk of blot clots for people who get certain symptoms, which i don’t get, so it’s fine for me but because i was so young some doctors were concerned), i literally had a migraine every single day. i’d tried multiple prescriptions in multiple doses, and any time something seemed to work it would come with a ton of negative side effects. i would go three months with maybe 4 migraine-free days. they were so bad that i was kicked out of high school with one month til graduation for missing too many days. it had let up a little by the time i went on the pill, but it was still ruining my life. now i can have a fairly normal life, although i need a super-regular schedule and still miss important things like class and dates with friends, and i’m not in a relationship because my last boyfriend couldn’t understand what it means to be with someone who gets migraines. when i’m on the “period week,” i get migraines for 7 straight days and usually 1-4 days after. at the time i didn’t like the idea of taking the pill, but i knew i didn’t have a choice and it’s been the best decision i’ve ever made. i just feel like i should mention this, because while i’m kinda old, i know a lot of rookie readers are young, and i don’t want anyone to be afraid of going on the 3-month pill just because it’s “weird” if that’s what they really need to do to have a normal life.

  • Lucy23 October 25th, 2012 6:58 AM

    Ugghh periods suck. When I get mine, it’s pretty light, but the CRAMPS ARE HORRENDOUS I have no idea why….

  • Creme October 25th, 2012 7:17 AM

    Frightening! I thought I was reading my old journal. And they have stopped producing those Ultra absorbent OB tampons which were really helping. I had the same condition for most of my life and had to undergo drastic surgery after they tried to remove new fibroids for the third time, and my uterus had become a post apocalyptic zone . And the bleeding, at one point, it never stopped and it was indeed really gore. They basically don’t know how to cure multiple fibroid growth in younger women and they grow back. At the advance stage alternate medicine doesn’t work, but now I would suggest you give them a try to control the condition. I wish I had tried that. And by the way, I have not had my period for 6 years and it is such a life changing experience. Imagine no period after it totally ruled your life. I do sometimes nightmares that the fibroids will go back somewhere else. Videodrome instead of the Shinning. Courage!

  • Mary the freak October 25th, 2012 7:54 AM

    Women are so strong. It’s so hard what you’ve been through.
    I had my first period about half a year ago and it sucked so much. I bleeded heavily for about a week and it was summer and we went swimming everyday -.-

  • Mixolydia October 25th, 2012 8:33 AM

    I had the same sort of doctor issue too! For two years i have had pain shooting down from my neck to my fingertips and none of the many doctors i have seen could figure out what it was (they just said it was bad posture and make me do physiotherapy/wait it out) but two days ago my new doctor told me to get an xray (the others didn’t even bother with an xray!) and found two of my neck vertebrae are misaligned and i have to wear a neck brace for three weeks so the surrounding tissue heals! I totally empathize with the prolonged suffering due to misdiagnosis–sometimes switching doctors can make a huuuuge difference!

  • Carissa October 25th, 2012 9:10 AM

    Wow, you completely just told my story. I’ve been reading rookie since the beginning and have never felt the need to comment before. (Mostly because I’m 30, not 16!)

    Anyway, congratulations! I’m so glad you had your fibroids taken out. I had one big one that was removed about a year and a half ago. This literally has changed my life. I no longer have to block out a week out of every month where I can do nothing except get to work, if I’m lucky. I used to have some hour long time periods on the worst days where I would be in the bathroom every ten minutes. I stained my mattress. I once bought a beer for $1.50 at four in the afternoon because I was a mile from home and had leaked onto my jeans. That was the only way the bar would let me use their bathroom. I once wore depends on a plane ride because it was that time; I really wanted to visit my grandparents across the country before they died.

    Menstrual cups are the best invention ever. I love my lunette.

    I lived with the insane bleeding getting worse and worse while I tried multiple kinds of birth control that did ridiculously little. Finally I saw a gyno who was comfortable with going straight to the surgical option, and I was saved.

    So, if you’re like me it will keep getting better. My periods probably took 6 months or so to get into the normal blood loss range after surgery. But they’ve stayed there since.

    Now I can do what I want. I’m finishing my education. Couldn’t have done that two years ago. I’m not constantly canceling on my friends.

    So, sorry, super long comment. I just got really excited. Good luck!

  • ArtNerd October 25th, 2012 10:27 AM

    Emma, I’m so glad you found a doctor that actually helped you with your problem! I thought that there was something wrong with me based on a diagnosis I got from a PP clinic and it wasn’t until 3 years later that I started seeing other doctors and got an expensive DNA test to find out that, no I don’t actually have an STD! I wish I had questioned that diagnosis years earlier. It was a huge lesson for me in being proactive about getting to know my body and health.

    Reading this article reminded me of an amazing book I read this summer called In Our Control: The Complete Guide to Contraceptive Choices for Women by Laura Eldridge. She’s a feminist, scientist and incredible writer. The book is mostly about contraception (it’s history, development, how each kind affects women’s bodies negatively and positively) but it also has a lot of info about periods, like what is actually happening inside of your body throughout the month, how periods have been perceived in society and how they are related to birth control. Super super fascinating stuff that every girl, woman, person should know!! It’s also great because she writes in a very non-judgemental way: she outlines the good and bad of everything but never tells you what you should do, just that every woman should choose what works for her and be informed about the effects of her choices on her health.

    P.S. DIVA CUP 4LYFE!

  • gnarlyelixir October 25th, 2012 10:41 AM

    i thought this post was going to be about carrie

  • Totoro17 October 25th, 2012 11:09 AM

    If you’re struggling to take in iron try drinking orange juice and taking iron supplements as it helps your absorption.

  • darksideoftherainbow October 25th, 2012 11:16 AM

    i really loved this a lot. it took me forever to read because i read pretty much everything over and over again. i don’t always have super heavy periods. instead, my periods last for months. i have my period more than not. i bleed STRAIGHT for seven to nine months out of the year. one or two of the leftover months i have a regular, week to week and half of bleeding, and then for one month i won’t get a period at all. that one free month isn’t worth much since i’m still so scared of bleeding that i’ll wear my pads anyway. i have to do that especially because with a period so irregular, there’s no telling when it’ll show up again. the best the doctors can tell me is that i have a hormone imbalance. i’m trying to get myself to go to a different gyno since i’m working now and have pretty good insurance (better than no insurance at all, which is what i used to have). what’s really crazy is that i’m so used to having my period, the pads are in my budget and wearing underwear without one feels really strange and uncomfortable. oh, and the good thing is that i don’t get cramps. i’ve only ever gotten them twice and i’m 25. the first time was brutal but the second came so many years later that i kind of liked them. i know it sounds antiquated and probably horrible, but my period makes me feel really girly, but since i’ve gotten used to them, the cramps make me feel that way now.

    thanks for the excellent post! i LOVED it!

  • arabellasfireflies October 25th, 2012 12:12 PM

    i completely understand this. i dont get super heavy periods, but i do get incredible amounts of cramps and back pain. in middle school and high school it was so bad that i would get into fetal position on the floor, in the middle of class, and hold back my tears. i finally went to the doctor and after trying everything else i went on birth control. im only on the progesterone pill for now, because adding estrogen could affect my high cholesterol, but i dont really see any improvement. i still have to miss class some days because the pain is just so bad. its gets to the point where my legs begin to feel so numb and weak that i cant get up. i recently talked to another gyno and he told me that it might be best for me to not get a period at all. i know it may not be natural, but i honestly wouldn’t mind. anything to not have to go through this pain. does anyone have experience with this kind of birth control?

    • Blythe January 25th, 2013 9:58 PM

      This is really late, but maybe it will help someone else.
      I have a bunch of medical problems, and dealing with my ULTRA HEAVY CRAMPTASTIC TWO-WEEK-LONG period on top of that is too much to deal with at this time in my life. For about a year now, I’ve been on birth control pills constantly, with no period. At first, it was awful, because it turns out I’m hormone sensitive and my General Practitioner put me on the exact wrong type of pill for someone as sensitive as I am. But then my mum took me to her gynecologist, who gave me a better dosage. I have had no bad experiences or side effects since then, and I’m dreading going back to having periods. (I live in the hope that I have permanently damaged my reproductive system.)
      The only problem is that my insurance is a total butt about constant birth control, and they’ll only cover three weeks on, one week off birth control for a teenager. So every few months, we have to pay full price (I think $27) for a packet of birth control to cover the gap.

  • Isabelle97 October 25th, 2012 2:49 PM

    I got my period when I was SEVEN if you can believe that and it was pretty normal until about three years later when my whole body went mental. My doctor was completely useless despite being a woman so I asked my great aunt (who’s raised five girls) if this was usual or not and apparently it’s a totally legit thing- even if you’re regular for a while you can still have an “balancing-out” experience in your early teens.
    Oh and not to be a massive bore but regular excersise has helped a lot, especially with pms and weird 3 month gaps ;)

  • Nicole October 25th, 2012 3:03 PM

    i do get cramps and that sucks but like…i was clutching at my uterus the whole time reading this. jesus. feelin kinda silly for complaining about sore pms boobs now

  • soretudaaa October 25th, 2012 4:03 PM

    I got my first period at a funeral.
    And I was NOT wearing black…

  • GlitterKitty October 25th, 2012 4:08 PM

    My periods are pretty light but the first day is not good. Some months I’ll throw up and have such bad cramps I can’t stand up straight. Other months I get mild cramps for only a few hours. But I get insane lower back pain too. It’s really bizarre and no one else I know gets this. It feels like the cramps just wrap all the way around.

    • Blythe January 25th, 2013 9:59 PM

      When I had periods (birth control!!!) I got back pain like that too. As I never really got it taken care of, I can’t offer much advice other than mild stretching, Advil, and hot pads.

  • catpower44 October 25th, 2012 5:06 PM

    Ugh. My periods usually last about 8-9 days. The second day is the worst, I find because of the cramps. I’m irregular too, so I’m always super paraniod about being at school and it happening. It usually is regular for two or 3 months but then completely goes MIA for like a months. When I first got my period, I was so happy and then my 4:00 that afternoon I was so annoyed with it!

  • AnaRuiz October 25th, 2012 5:14 PM

    I’ve got the reverse problem! I get my periods about three to four times a year (if I’m lucky) NATURALLY. It’s also worrying. I think periods in general are worrying because they are, after all, a basic part of our womanhood. It would be worrying if we had no vagina or if our vagina were bigger than our mouths, right?

    • a-anti-anticapitalista October 26th, 2012 10:53 AM

      Cysts can also form because of that so go to a doctor if you can or ask an adult.

  • Kose October 25th, 2012 5:46 PM

    Okay so, fact about me: My BEST day physically is the day before my period, and then while I’m on my period. Like, I don’t get tired. I can keep on running and do sports and stuff. Is that weird? Does anyone else have that?

  • Alexx October 25th, 2012 5:53 PM

    I swear we have like the same exact period issues (minus the cramps, that must really suck..)! I get it REALLY heavy and it lasts for at minimum 6 days (normally it varies from 7-10). And I love how it always decides to come at the absolute best times. I’ve been wearing my “period underwear” for like a week now waiting for it to come, and now that I finally decided to give in and wear my favorite underwear, mother nature’s wonderful “gift” decides to come. It’s really a pain in the a**, not to mention all my ruined underwear (sorry about all the grossness).
    I’ve actually started thinking about taking birth control pills, but I don’t know if i should. I’m kinda worried about the side effects.. (hopefully i don’t have fibroids, i’m terrified of surgery D: )

  • Juli October 25th, 2012 9:25 PM

    does anyone ever feel paranoid about their period, even when you fully know you won’t have it for another few weeks? i swear, every time i get out of my seat i have to “inconspicuously” check the back of my jeans.

    • catpower44 October 29th, 2012 9:14 AM

      oh my god yes. Even a few days after I KNOW it’s stopped, I still find myself pulling down my sweater or something. I thought for awhile I was being paraniod! Yay Juli!

  • Janelle October 25th, 2012 10:10 PM

    Wow. This really puts my periods into perspective to me. I have four whopping days out of every month one of which I have ‘heavy flow’ (see most people’s ‘normal flow’). I moan and complain and eat a horse every day that I’m on my period, but THIS article is insane. I’m so thankful that I’m capable of going to dance class, and living life normally whilst on my period… And now my uterus feels sore after reading this article!

  • marcelle42 October 25th, 2012 10:53 PM

    My period is nothing like this — 4-5 days, light flow, simple (at least when I’m on the pill). And yet still, at age 30, I stain my underwear and stain my sheets regularly. I can’t wear tampons, and even long pads don’t cut the amazing ability my body has of spreading the blood around. It’s not that much! I don’t bleed that heavily! And yet, it is everywhere.

    I had to tell my aunt last year that I accidentally bled on the sheets on her guest bed. I’m a freaking grown-up! It was embarrassing, but what are you going to do?

  • chillaxstevie October 26th, 2012 2:33 AM

    I hate looking at the blood.

  • a-anti-anticapitalista October 26th, 2012 10:50 AM

    OHMYGOD. I’ve been a little depressed lately because I’ve had cysts in my ovaries for a long time and because of that I have crazy hormonal problems. Do you have PCOS? I would love to see something on rookie to comfort us with PCOS and the traumatic symptoms. Especially with the recent awareness (thanks to this awesome amazing woman http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/25/balpreet-kaur-sikh-woman-proudly-sports-facial-hair-faith_n_1913355.html) about hirsutism, which is one of the most traumatic symptoms of PCOS. I don’t have intense menstrual flow but it’s just super irregular, instead I have hirsutism and even though mine is mild it’s still a nightmare to struggle with, I can’t imagine what it’s like for others out there. I’ve been depressed just fearing that lazer hair removal won’t do anything because I haven’t balanced my hormones. I think reading about hirsutism and how girls who have it way worse than me struggle with it just strengthened my belief that we are all in drag and that gender is totally constructed and that it creates a lot of pain, and if only there weren’t an idea of man and woman and what each is supposed to look like then we wouldn’t have to deal with this pain.

  • Jamia October 26th, 2012 11:02 AM

    Loved this piece and hope those fibroids do not come back. I’ve dealt with some small fibroids and have had very painful moon cycles since my teen years. They run in my family and are no fun at all-sending you lots of empathetic love.

  • thunderbirds October 26th, 2012 4:26 PM

    i was reading this and just thinking how many troubles you go trough with your period but then again,i wouldn’t know any of this. it was really interesting to hear your view, for point i don’t have a period,AT ALL,anyhow i felt like i was missing on something so important,because everyone got theirs and it was a common topic,i really hope there are others with (without,heh) problem

  • JessicaMay October 27th, 2012 4:49 AM

    Going to a Halloween party tonight and I’m on my period, literally feel like I don’t need a costume. I turn in to a pasty, hyper emotional, scrunched up monster for about a week every month, I feel your pain!

    Not sure if anyone’s seen this but Bodyform UK responded to some guy posting on their Facebook with this……..

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bpy75q2DDow&feature=player_embedded

  • Ree October 27th, 2012 2:33 PM

    Oh God, I know it’s a natural part of life and it happens to everyone and it’s been happening to me for five years but I still cannot talk to my friends about periods. Even reading this article made me so nauseous, it’s actually embarrassing.

  • Emma S. October 29th, 2012 6:15 PM

    xoxox, Queen Jamia.

  • Goldsoundz11 November 5th, 2012 7:21 AM

    This article resonated so much with me. As a teenager I had the worst periods imaginable. I had incredibly heavy flow that lasted for days, and horrible cramps. Cramps so bad that I sometimes vomited and often had to stay home from school. I was always afraid of leaving a trail of blood in my wake and was anemic. I was finally put on birth control to regulate my period at 16, following many useless prescriptions for painkillers, and it was a godsend. I went off of the pill briefly at 18, and like the author, my period came back full force. I’m now 26 and haven’t gone off the pill since that brief 3 month hiatus. I know that there are risks involved with staying on the pill for such a long period, but I’m not really interested in contemplating the alternative. I’m glad you’ve finally found some peace with your menstrual cycle though and it is nice to read about the experiences of other women!

  • EmBug November 25th, 2012 2:05 AM

    Hands down, 2 words. Periods suck.

  • Mary the freak January 10th, 2013 5:59 AM

    UGH I hate it. I am having it for like, not a long time, or something, but it drives me mad. Ya’ know, I should be in school right now, but I drove home after two lessons because I bleeded through my pants. I mean, why even? Seriously, there was nothing yesterday. It happened two me twice noe (the return home from school thing) and it’s so annoying and I just thought, hey let’s read this article again to make me feel better.

    Fuck you, period. I hate you you sucker.

  • April 29th, 2013 12:16 PM

    “The feeling is like boarding an airplane when you know there’s going to be extreme turbulence. The ride is going to be bumpy, but you have no choice but to get on board.” So true.