Medically reviewed by Sophia Yen, MD, MPH – Written by Pandia Health Editorial Team
Happy International Menstruation Month! May 28 is Menstrual Hygiene Day (MH Day) but we’re celebrating period power for all of May — and the whole year because why not?! MH Day began as a campaign to empower women to manage their menstruation safely, hygienically, and with confidence.
Since its launch in 2014, MH Day has brought together voices and actions of non-profits, individuals, and the media to break the silence around menstruation by raising awareness and changing negative social notions about periods. This global advocacy platform has further brought to light the issues surrounding poor menstrual hygiene caused by a lack of education on the issue, persisting taboos and stigma, and limited access to period products.
Let’s face it, ladies. Period talk has not always been easy or fun or generally acceptable; you probably learned more about menstruation from your peers and personal experience than from a textbook or any conversation with your mom. This could actually lead to harmful consequences such as reproductive health problems and feeling a lack of autonomy over and knowledge about your own body.
So, how do we fix that? Here’s a bright idea: let’s get rid of the taboo that surrounds topics related to feminine hygiene by normalizing and celebrating periods.
Young girls typically get their first period around the ages of 12 or 13, or whenever puberty hits. You’ll see some brown/red stains of blood in your underwear and you may experience symptoms of PMS; your first one may be heavy or light and it is possible it only lasts a few days rather than a week which is the average length of time.
Why do we get periods, you ask? Well, your cycle is helping prepare your body for pregnancy; during your period, your uterine lining sheds (hence, bleeding) but when you are pregnant, you don’t have a period because your uterus retains that thick lining in order to create a placenta for the baby.
During your period, you may experience cramps, increased acne, weight gain, bloating, weird food cravings, and mood swings. This is where all of those jokes about women being emotionally unstable a(.k.a. PMS-ing) come in; not only are these jokes sexist but they take away the real suffering that people with uteruses feel while bleeding.
How Birth Control Can Help While On Your Period
If you are not ready to have a baby or simply don’t want to get your period, there’s a way to safely and effectively shut it off by taking birth control! On the pill, for example, just skip the placebo week of pills and forget about bleeding for the month! It is possible to skip your period on other forms as well like the ring, shot, implant, and IUD.
Plus, there are a myriad of reasons besides pregnancy prevention to be on birth control. Contraceptive methods help reduce acne, decrease heavy or irregular periods, lower the risk of endometrial and ovarian cancer, ease symptoms of PCOS, and regulate hormones. To determine which birth control method is right for you, consult with a doctor.
Aside from taking birth control to reduce or eliminate negative side effects of your period, there are other ways to deal with menstruating. Placing a heating pad on your stomach to relieve cramps, watching your favorite movie with your gal pals or S.O. (start a Netflix watch party or Zoom call to stay safe!), doing a form of exercise (walking and stretching are easy and helpful physical activities).
Get Involved #ForThoseWhoBleed
Looking for ways to help those who get periods, be it socially, financially, or politically. Founded in 2015, Operation Period, a youth-led, nonprofit dedicated to addressing menstrual inequity provides education and services to those in need both in the U.S. and abroad.
This organization helps students gain access to feminine hygiene products, delivers period items to women in need, and educates people on menstruation through online and in-person mediums. Operation Period welcomes your support by donating your time or money in order to maintain these services #ForThoseWhoBleed. For further info and more period inspo, check them out on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!
Support companies that empower women like Operation Period and Pandia Health! Pandia is the ONLY birth control delivery service founded and led by women; if you want to join the Pandia community to reduce stigma surrounding periods, get FREE birth control, and help female entrepreneurs, sign up today!
The above information is for general informational purposes only and is NOT a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your doctor/primary care provider before starting or changing treatment.