Friday, January 4, 2013

The period problem

Periods. I remember being excited about getting my first one. It was that awesome right of passage from girl to woman. A new responsibility. My own secret to share with whom I wanted. Then it came, and suddenly it was a nightmare.

I'm sure a lot of women can share my young teenage grief of trying to hide pads (I didn't like tampons) from the boys in my class. The fear of looking at the seat every time you stood up, fearing you'd see blood. Then sometimes you saw blood and it was full on panic to see how bad the leak was. The terror of walking in front of people, afraid the stain would show when your legs moved.

Fear of being teased. Fear of being known. I was fortunate that, aside from leaks and spills, I was pain-free. I have very few cramps, nothing that even required an aspirin to handle it.

I waited for things to become regular. I knew that it would probably be "several years" according to what I read in books or online. So, since I started at 12, then maybe at 15? Nope. Sixteen? Nope. something was wrong so I consulted a gynocologist. All she said was that sometimes it takes girls longer to develop a normal cycle.

Then I went haywire. I had periods that lasted 2 weeks. Then 3 weeks later, another 2 week cycle. Then 8 months with nothing. Just that waiting, every day. One day I got my cycle so heavy, I had to change my "overnight" pad every hour. This went on for 2 days. I had no idea this wasn't "normal." And even a return visit to the OB/GYN the next year didn't ask for details to discover it was abnormal.

At 18 I was tired of not knowing the answers to why my body refused to get with the program, and I discovered there was a condition called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). I went to a new doctor and had it confirmed with bloodwork. But that doctor made no recommendation on how to manage this multi-sympton syndrome except for: Here's birth control, it will make you have regular periods.

It worked! I was suddenly on a 28-day predictable cycle with manageable blood flow. Life was pretty good. Over the years my cycle has shrunk from 5 heavy days to 3 or 4 light and medium ones. In the past few years I've started experiencing cramps for the first time in my life (no, they aren't fun...). I found a doctor who encouraged me to lose weight so I could potentially reverse the symptoms and not require the fake hormones. My body could be fixed.

And then something weird happened a few months ago. My 4 days turned into 3. Three days turned into 2. Instead of starting on Thursday between 7a-9a like clockwork, they started 24 hours late. Forty-eight hours late. Three days? Was it coming at all?

Birth control tests were negative. Soon all I was doing was just spotting for a day, it wasn't even real. I didn't even need a pad anymore. It just wasn't there. I went to my doctor and she said, "Huh. That's odd." But nothing medically is wrong. I'm slightly anemic, but not in the area where my period should disappear completely.

And then last weekend, I missed the entire period. Not one drop of blood was to be found. Finally, when it was 4 days late, I took another pregnancy test. Nope. Negative.

The thing about being a woman is, a period is part of who you are. I feel like I'm missing some part of me that should be there. Yes it's been partially broken all this time, but I'm doing things where it should be there. And now I don't know why its missing. I don't know where it went. I'm not alarmed, but I'm aggravated.

Why does it have to be so fucking broken? I've put up with crap and all I want is this one part of being a woman, no matter how ugly or annoying or painful it is, just to be here. Yes they get in the way, they cost money, they cause us to act emotionally, but dammit that's part of being a woman. And somehow my body is denying me that part of me. Where did it go? When will it come back? I don't know.

It's a problem.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I am almost 49, and i sometimes skip a month, have a really light one the next month, and then a heavy one the next. But of course I am in peri menopause now. Maybe you should go get your hormone levels checked out. I know what you mean about missing it when you don't have it at all.