Face it: so many young women are self-conscious about their periods, or feel embarrassed talking about them. I won't say I hide in shame during that time of the month, but I'm hardly willing to shout out to the world that Auntie Flo is visiting, either.
But a conversation (and the incident that led to it) with my boyfriend of nearly a year about this very subject about a week ago turned out to be some major bonding material, not to mention a chance for me to disclose information that he probably never would have known otherwise. Not only did this little conversation give me a chance to inform him better about exactly what happens, but it opened up the door for a whole host of other topics that we hadn't discussed. And I'd like to share that experience, as awkward as it might have been.
My partner usually knows when I'm having my period anyway, because when the topic of sex comes up, I usually respond by telling him what's going on. He'll respond with "Oh, alright," but the conversation will end there.
Though 20 years old, the occasional irregular bugger still plagues me. Such was the case a week ago, when Auntie Flo decided to pop in early. I wasn't aware of said visit until a friend pulled me aside after lecture hall and let me in on the fact that I bled clean through my khakis. Luckily it wasn't terribly obvious, so I figured I'd change when I went home a few hours later, after I made a side-stop at my partner's house.
Well, as side-stops go, a simply 5 minute hello turned into 15 which turned into some quality couch time, and no, I don't mean watching TV. All clothes remained on, and things went fine, until I went to get up and noticed that I'd continued to bleed through my pants, and onto my partner's as well.
Needless to say I wanted to die.
I thought my boyfriend would freak out. I thought for sure I would be in trouble, that he'd be so grossed out that he wouldn't be able to speak. But I was nicely surprised (scratch that, shocked out of my mind) when he looked up and said, straight-faced, "Oh well, accidents happen. At least we were having fun in the process, right?"
I've seen male friends react to the word "period". I've heard their jokes about the movie Superbad and the scene where the guy dances with someone's girlfriend and gets menstrual blood all over his pant leg, and "Dude, how nasty was that?" accompanied by "Yeah, totally!"...so imagine my surprise when my partner casually walked into the laundry room and threw his pants in the hamper.
I'll admit I was completely embarrassed, but I was also curious as to why he didn't react accordingly, (well, according with how I felt, anyway...) So, still in his boxers, we sat down on the couch, I asked why, and the rest is history.
The bottom line: as embarrassed as we gals can get over our periods, we make a bigger deal out of them than anyone else does. Not only are we embarrassed to talk about them with other girls, the humiliation factor goes through the roof the minute a guy enters the conversation. The facts are pretty simple: it's a part of life, and a necessary one at that. Without that monthly pain, our reproductive systems would be in scramble mode.
I was surprised that my boyfriend didn't see this as the earth-moving event I believed it to be. "Do you think I'd get mad at you because you're a girl and have a period?" he said to me. "You have to deal with them as it is, you don't need me ragging on you about them on top of that." And he's right, as silly as I felt admitting that to myself. But as I sat in his living room, explaining exactly what goes on during menstruation, I felt an odd sense of pride creeping up on me. Besides the work I do on Scarleteen, I don't often talk about what I know when it comes to sex and sexual health. But I reveled in being able to explain the mechanics, PMS and all the rest to my partner, including specifics about me and what I experience during my cycle that he wouldn't have known. And what's more, we didn't stop there. We kept going for another hour, having discussions about sex and our wants and needs that probably never would have come up otherwise.
And, I got to teach him how to do laundry.
As humiliated as I felt at first, I now believe it happened for good reason. Though I never would have chosen that particular incident to spark a conversation that really needed to happen, that fact that it did is now irrelavent. I went home that night feeling much closer to my partner, and him to me, because of an unexpected visit.
So now when I check the calendar and see that I'm due, it isn't the end of the world; I might even embrace it. It is no longer going to be a burden, or leave a stain on my day.
Just my pants, perhaps.