Menstruation and you

Well, you got your period, which according to the latest data from the National Institutes of Health, suggests that you’re probably around 10 years old and have been wearing a bra for 5 years already. Welcome to womanhood!

The menstrual cycle is referred to by many names. In ancient Greece, it was called catamenia (as in, “Dude, what’s up with Medea? She must have the catamenia real bad.”)

It is also called “menses,” not to be confused with Mensa, which is a club for pasty white people with just the right cultural bias to excel at tests created by other pasty white people. Like Jeopardy. (Maybe you fit into both groups, because, hey, genius uteruses, e.g., geniuteruses, shed their linings one month at a time just like the rest of us.)

Older ladies in flowy skirts who do tarot card readings at the People’s Fair tell us that Native Americans called it your “moon.” As in, “One of you other bitches make me a bison pot pie, I’m on my fucking moon again.”

My friend Kate calls it Shark Week. Also see: Crimson Tide. Red Dawn. The coming of Gozer the Gozerian.

So, there are some things you should know. A few days before your period, you may start to feel a little weird. Like, maybe when someone eats the last of the peanut butter, you will want to rip their head off with your bare hands, put it on a pike, and dance around a fire while screaming like a banshee. This is totally normal.

Then you may have a slight disembowelment sensation like your intestines are locked in a vice and being squeezed and twisted around until what feels like your entire body weight comes out of your lower orifices all at once. Also totally normal.

From there, it’s easy-peasy. Just a short 5-10 days of steady blood flow from your vagina, which you can absorb with big wads of cotton on a string that may, possibly, give you a disease called Toxic Shock Syndrome. But don’t worry, they tell you this in a handy full page (front and back!) of tiny text that reads like stereo instructions.

Another word about tampons: You’re gonna have to get up in there. When I first tried to put a tampon in, I read on the box that it had an easy glide applicator that would guide itself to the right place. I thought this meant that a tampon was like a guided missile launched from a submarine and that if I held it in front of my vagina, it would be sucked up in there without me having to dig all around up in my business. This is not the case. Your body is your friend. Learn it. Love it. Use it. And if you haven’t made friends with your vajayjay yet, this is the perfect time because you’re going to get to know each other REAL well over the next 40 years of monthly visits.

One final piece of advice: Don’t wear white on your lower half for a while. Just until you get the hang of this, say, in about your mid-30s.

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