I remember the first time I got my period and I want to block out the memory completely. My mom was out of town so all I had was my dad who didn’t really know what to do. I remember wearing a pad before leaving for school and I guess you can call it women’s intuition because it saved me from what could’ve been a very embarrassing day. Okay, I’m slightly exaggerating since our skirts were red and I went to an all-girls school, so periods were quite common.
I got home that day and told my dad, which he followed immediately with a frantic call to my mom in which she responded calmly with “She knows what to do.” With all the TV shows and books about coming-of-age, there’s more knowledge available to young girls when the time comes. Despite all this, there are still some funky myths when it comes to periods, what they mean, and what women should do.
Do NOT shower during your very first cycle
This, by far, has to be the weirdest and not to mention unsanitary one out there. It was mentioned to me by my grandmother and I just couldn’t wrap my brain around it. I asked her the connection and she just told me to follow or my veins would pop out. The medical proof of this is a mystery still unsolved. JUST TO CLARIFY, NO WAY IN HELL DID I FOLLOW THIS. My face was on WTF the whole time my grandmother was telling me about it.
Women should bleed during their first time
NOPE. Having vaginal sex for the first time does not guarantee that your hymen hasn’t broken and you will bleed. A lot of sporty girls don’t experience bleeding during their first time due to the fact that their hymens broke playing sports or simply stretching.
Dysmenorrhea is NORMAL
Okay, yes, a lot of women experience dysmenorrhea or stomach cramps and they usually take a pain reliever to just roll with it. But there are some cases wherein dysmenorrhea is actually a sign for a more serious problem.
I always had dysmenorrhea and to me, it was very normal because I was made to believe so.
Among the three points mentioned, the last one is something I want to further talk about. Last week, I underwent surgery on my ovaries for Endometriosis. This is a condition wherein a woman bleeds outside the uterus and causes lesions all over which can lead to infertility. I always had dysmenorrhea and to me, it was very normal because I was made to believe so. I would know it was that time of the month again because the period pains would come in tidal waves. I would ask my friends if they had period pains a week prior to their periods and if they had dysmenorrhea too. Majority of them said yes, which led to me the conclusion that what I felt every month was normal. I can tell you now that I was very wrong.
Last November, I felt this intense pain where you’d normally feel dysmenorrhea but I knew the pain was different. I was rushed to the ER and to my disappointment, they wanted to give me a pregnancy test to see if I was in the middle of a miscarriage, and no matter how many times I denied that I was pregnant due to the lack of “action” in my life at that time, the on-call ER resident still insisted. Test results came back and (to no) surprise, they come back negative. I spent that night in ER still in a lot of pain so I ended up taking pain killers and just sleeping it off.
I will be subjected to pseudo-menopausal vaccines which means at the age of 20, I will have a first hand experience of menopause.
At the end of March this year, I finally went to see a specialist. After listing all my symptoms, she told me to get a trans-vaginal ultrasound. A few days after, I went back for a check-up and she diagnosed me with Endometriosis which led to the surgery that I mentioned earlier. I am currently on birth control pills to help regulate my monthly periods and in a week, I will be subjected to pseudo-menopausal vaccines which means at the age of 20, I will have a first hand experience of menopause. The battle isn’t over yet but I’ll keep you updated.
My whole point in recounting my gruelling story is to shed light on the reality of what thousands of women go through all over the world but they dismiss it as a bad case of stomach cramps. This is because society dictates that they suck it up and just muscle through believing that all women go through this. There is a degree to which this pain is considered safe and if you are reading this and you feel a different kind of dysmenorrhea, different in a way that you know that it’s not right, I urge you to get checked.
By Patricia Recto
Art by Julia Cruz