My first period involved very light spotting and a vague conversation with my mother, who insisted that I should always use pads and never tampons. In other words, not very exciting.
Thankfully I persisted and was eventually able to decide for myself on the products I would use. In my early years of menstruation, the cramps were so bad that I was prescribed Mefenamic Acid for the pain. Eventually, I simply became more used to the pain and stopped refilling the prescription. Because I was mostly using tampons and was not yet using a cup, I had no idea that this pain was due to blood clots and I felt powerless to stop the discomfort. I started using a cup in my early 20s and quickly learned that with every session of sharp, jabbing pain, there was an accompanying blood clot passing through my body. At least now I had an explanation.
I changed my diet and found a new cup that was a better fit for me (LENA, of course!). The clotting and associated pain became much more manageable over the years, but last year a few of my menstrual cycles came with a new source of pain, followed by the shedding of larger, fleshy-looking pieces. The first time it happened I was confused. Was my body coming apart from the inside out? Was I unknowingly pregnant and having a miscarriage? I had many questions, and luckily the Internet was there to help. Decidual shedding happens when the body sheds the uterine lining in larger portions, sometimes even shaped like the uterus itself. It can often be quite painful, as I discovered for myself. So painful, in fact, that there is actually a medical term specifically for it: membranous dysmenorrhea. If it wasn’t for the gift of the Gyno Gab blog, I may never have learned so much about my body.
My decidual shedding only happened for a few cycles, and I am glad to say that even with the usual cramping, my periods have been a walk in the park ever since.
Image by Adrian Onsen