Free Periods Canada: Period Story Project

If I had to use one word to describe my period, it would be ‘exhausting’ due to Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder.

April 5, 2023
 Free Periods Canada: Period Story Project

The Period Stories You've Been Waiting For

In today's society, there is a hush hush mentality that still exists around periods.Unfortunately, this means that many menstruators feel the need to hide their periods forfear of being judged and shamed. In one of the period stories you'll read, a menstruatorcalls in sick to work due to menstrual health problems, provides a doctor's note fromtheir OBGYN, and is then harassed by their supervisor to the point they resign fromtheir job. This is not an isolated incident.

Free Periods Canada has created the FPC Period Story Project so menstruators everywhere can share their period stories in a judgement free space. Sharing period stories can not only help menstruators take up space and reclaim their voices, but can also empower other menstruators to embrace their periods and share their own stories.The more real life menstrual experiences the world hears, and the more empowered menstruators become, the less in the dark the world will be when it comes to how people with periods are treated, and the sooner menstruators can be treated better.

Let's put an end to period stigma, period shame and overall period inequity by sharingand reading period stories.

My Uncomfortable Period

If I had to use one word to describe my period it would be "uncomfortable". This isbecause I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and get really bad period cramps duringthe first two days of my period. I’ve had to make lifestyle changes to regulate my period,such as exercising regularly with yoga, but I still experience intolerable pain due tocramps almost every month. I’ve also realized, as the founder of Ruth, that many of usmenstruators aren’t educated on the period products that can help us each month, andthat there is a silence around periods that leads to feeling uncomfortable. Conversationsand education around periods and period products needs to become the norm so periodstigma, shame, and the silence that exists around periods can end. I hope my periodstory can help other menstruators by inspiring them to talk openly about their periods sowe can make change.

My Irregular Period

The one word I would use to describe my period is “irregular”. I have Polycystic OvarianSyndrome (PCOS) so my periods tend to be inconsistent or even absent at times. Theyalso cause me intense stomach pain, hair loss, acne, mood swings, and depression. Iused to think these symptoms meant I was unhealthy and that I was responsible for it,but I eventually came to terms with the fact that it's genetics. I hope my period story canhelp other menstruators with PCOS realize that they are not alone or at fault for theirchallenging and/or irregular periods.

My Period Connection

I’m a queer non binary trans human and a poet who loves ritual and magic. Having myperiod, to me, is flowing with my release cycles, finding ways of connecting to myelemental movements of the month, and even ways of building intimacy and trust withmy partner, who is another trans masculine person. Being able to show up and bevulnerable with where my body is at, what my needs are, and what is moving throughme and holding that space for myself and in my relationship is huge. I hope everyonecan connect with themselves through their period in whatever ways feel right to them.

My Unpredictable Period Experience

If I had to use one word to describe my period, it would be “predictable”. Ever since Istarted my first period when I was 11, it has been consistently predictable. There wasonly one time it became unpredictable, and everything changed.

When I was 20, I had a copper IUD inserted. Although I was aware that a copper IUDcould make my period heavier and my cramps stronger for several months, it was a riskI was willing to take considering how moderate and predictable my period had been for9 years. After having the IUD inserted seamlessly, I was surprised by how much pain Ifound myself in the following month. The second day of my period, I was in so muchpain that I couldn’t stand up straight. My flow was so heavy that a tampon and a paddidn’t last for even two hours. I called in sick to work, with a note from my OBGYN.

My supervisor (55 year old cisgender male) emailed me to inform me that if I called insick again, I would be fired. When I arrived at work the following day, I learned that mysupervisor had told my coworkers that I had called in sick because I was hungover frompartying. The accusations and subsequent situation snowballed to the point where Iresigned from my job due to continued harassment from my supervisor. I hope that myperiod story can help other menstruators who experience workplace discrimination dueto their period, by letting them know they’re not alone.

My Mother's Period Poverty Story

I have a story about menstruation that was shared with me by my Mum. She beganasking me about my work with Days for Girls in January 2021. As I told her, "We helpgirls with their periods,” our conversation began to grow. She then told me about hermenstrual experiences growing up in England when my grandfather passed away andmy grandmother was left to raise 6 children in extreme poverty. My Mum told me it wasincredibly difficult to manage her period growing up in a household where 4 people hadperiods and there was no money to buy menstrual supplies. Although my Mum passedaway in September, our conversations around menstruation are something I will alwayscherish. For me, they created a stronger bond between us and reinforced how sharingperiod stories can make a difference in the lives of menstruators.

My Exhausting Period

If I had to use one word to describe my period, it would be exhausting. This is because Istruggle with PMDD and severe physical health symptoms due to my period.

Two weeks before every period, I go into a state of Major Depressive Disorder due tohormone fluctuation, which is called PMDD. It affects my self confidence, myrelationships, and my ability to remember things or get things done in my everyday life.During the first few days of my period, I experience hot flashes, heavy bleeding,excruciating cramps, numb legs, a sore back, fatigue, and lightheadedness.

I think the hardest part about my period is not being able to function the way I normallydo, because it's scary. Every period exhausts me starting two weeks before it begins,until it ends. I hope that this can change one day, but there is no cure for PMDD rightnow. I also hope that my period story can help other menstruators feel less alone in theirown struggles with their period and PMDD.

Growing with My Period

If I had to use one word to describe my period it would be "growth". This is because,after switching to reusable menstrual products and their benefits, I learned so muchmore about my body. I became more confident in sharing my experiences, speakingopenly about menstruation with other menstruators, and learned to embrace my period (along with all the cramps and nausea) as a sign of my physical and mental strength. Ihope that my period story can help other menstruators by empowering them to be proud of their periods and their bodies.

A's Exhausting Period

If I had to use one word to describe my period it would be “exhausting”. I haveexperienced heavy periods and cramps since my teenage years, and was prescribedbirth control pills to manage it. The pills made me depressed and I felt entirely alone in my journey, despite being very vocal about menstrual health advocacy. I remember switching to a different birth control pill, and it resulted in a 40 day period. YEP, you read that right!

For a long time, I thought I had a low pain tolerance because everyone told me the painI was experiencing was normal. It took me almost seven years and many differentprimary physicians to be diagnosed with fibroids, which finally explained the cramps andheavy bleeding. Although the diagnosis didn't alleviate my physical pain and suffering, it meant that the period pain wasn't in my head, and that it was NOT normal. It was like this approval that I needed to be kind to myself on my period. I still experience heavymenstrual bleeding and cramps, but these days, I am not afraid to take Advil, reschedule my plans, and lay down the whole day if needed.

J's Untamed Period

If I had to use one word to describe my period it would be “untamed”. This is becausemy first period, at 11 years old, lasted for three whole months. I found out this wasn'tnormal after I asked my mother for more tampons, and she asked me, “How did youfinish the Costco sized pack already?” I was given no tests at the doctor to see whatwas causing the issue, but was placed on birth control. I wish more tests were done togive me comfort in what I was going through and hope that my period story can showother menstruators who experience untamed periods, that they're not alone.

K's Stressful Period

If I had to use one word to describe my period it would be "stressful" (at times). This is because there is a lack of menstrual health awareness and it inhibits my ability to vocalize what I experience. The hormonal changes and cramps are hard enough, buteven worse when you can't talk about them because you're not sure how you'll be received. Coming from a south asian background, I have not had the opportunity or safe space to express my period pain. I hope that my period story can help other menstruators who experience similar stigma and shame, and a sense of silence aroundtheir period, to feel that they are not alone.

Closing Message

We want to thank every menstruator who has taken up this space and shared theirperiod stories with us. We know period talk isn't always easy, and want you to know thatyour bravery and honesty are inspiring.There is a need for more period talk and safe spaces for menstruators, so we havedecided to continue taking submissions for the Period Story Project on an ongoingbasis. We hope this can provide you with an opportunity to share your story and engagewith other menstruators going through similar experiences.

Submit YOUR Period Story

Another safe space for menstruators is CHARMS, Free Period Canada's digital network and online menstrual community.

We hope to see you there!


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