Regarding monthly periods, women could use honest understanding instead of stereotypes

By Mallorie Sckerl

“Wow, calm down there honey.  Jeez, is it ‘shark week’ again or something?”

The number of times I have been asked this question by guys, and even some girls, is almost as grotesque as menstruation itself.  Why is it that when I become upset or passionate about a topic, it is often assumed that my flare of feelings must somehow be related to my “time of the month”?

Disclaimer: Yes, this article is about periods.  No, it’s really not that big of a deal that I’m writing about periods. Newsflash: All girls menstruate. That’s about 50 percent of the world population. The sooner you come to terms with that fun fact, the better off you will be, my friend.

Angry moods are just one annoying stereotype related to periods. Others include, but are definitely not limited to: unexplainable exhaustion, excessive mood swings, weird cravings, bad attitudes and increased amounts of ice cream and romantic comedy films. As a female who, believe it or not, goes through a menstrual cycle (*gasp*), please allow me to allay some of these common concerns.

For starters, yes, some girls do see a heightened state of emotions during their period. This is due to the hormonal imbalances we tend to experience throughout our cycles. Some of these hormones are actually what cause our bodies to change throughout the month. So, maybe we are yelling at you because we’re PMS-ing. Or maybe we’re just really upset. As I’m sure you’ve heard in your science or social studies classes before, correlation does not necessarily equal causation.

Some women also notice that they crave certain foods or flavors when they are on their period. I have a real sweet tooth, so I find myself eating a little extra chocolate during a certain week each month. Some girls, on the other hand, are more inclined toward salty foods, such as potato chips or pretzels. However, some cravings get a little bit out there. I’ve heard of everything from eggs to cheese to pickle juice. Again, this is completely normal.  So, try as we might to control our odd food cravings, our bodies want what they want, and sometimes we just have to give in.

Exhaustion can be another hard-hitting symptom. Why are girls so tired during this ‘special’ time? Think about it. Our bodies are literally attacking themselves for days on end. The uterus is shredding itself from the inside and forcing blood and tissue out of us in a disgusting, oftentimes painful way, and there is nothing we can do except wait it out. Muscles you didn’t even realize you had are moving around in nasty ways purposefully trying to “damage” your insides, which can cause horrible cramps and nausea as well. Your body spends a week wearing itself out without giving the slightest thought to what other physically or mentally exhausting activities you may have planned, similarly to when you’re sick with the flu or a bad cold. Therefore, we’d all appreciate some lenience if we’re a little extra tired from time to time.

And of course this list wouldn’t be complete without the stereotype of girls wearing sweatpants sitting on couches eating gallons of ice cream while crying over romantic comedies, much like some people think we do after breakups. Full disclosure, I have done this before. But only a handful of times. It’s enjoyable and it’s relaxing.  Some girls like to take baths or exercise while they’re on their periods as well. During this week of suffering, it’s important for girls to take some time to do things that make them feel happy and good inside, cliche as that may sound. We need to remind ourselves that we do, in fact, love our bodies, even when our uterus is putting us through h-e-double-hockey-sticks.

And so, as a general reminder, friend, during these trying stretches, the last thing any woman wants to deal with are stereotypical expectations from others, male or female.  Menstruation is a natural struggle that half of the world faces, so a little bit of understanding would go a long way.

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