Let’s talk about menstruation and fertility. I’ll start with the beginning of my own story. I got my period quite early, but not always frequently. I would get my period several months in a row and then not see it for a month or two. No one in my family ever referred to it as “the curse” or “auntie flow” or my “friend”. My mom is a nurse and I understood what menstruation was about, what it was called and what to expect.
I knew that some of my friends were jealous that I got it so early. Earlier than all of them, at about twelve and a half. I didn’t know that my periods were irregular exactly or I knew that was not unusual at the beginning. I didn’t know to keep track of them but I kind of did. None of us like having unexpected surprises when there’s a trip to the beach planned.
I read “Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret” by Judy Blume. Having developed early and gotten my period early, I couldn’t quite understand the obsession around wanting breasts or my menstruation cycle. I sympathized with my friends who really wanted the visible process of becoming a woman to start but secretly I wondered why the rush.
Here’s what I most emphatically did not understand about menstruation. I did not understand that it was every month. I mean, I did, but I didn’t. I didn’t realize how constant that would end up being. I was lucky in that PMS was mainly my being irritable, not having physical cramps. I didn’t understand that my period would be a more constant companion than any other relationship.
Boyfriends came and went, friends came and went; my period was every month. Or nearly every month.
That was the other thing that I most certainly did not understand. My period being irregular meant to me that I would sometimes get a break from the whole process. If it occurred to me that something was wrong, it was a tiny voice, quickly moved away from. After all, I was not interested in becoming pregnant, not nearly ready. I don’t believe that it ever occurred to me at all that I had an illness or a disease. If it did, it was an even tinier voice, even more quickly run away from. I just enjoyed not getting my period for a month or so, like a vacation.
Until, of course, I was ready. I met my husband when I turned 18, was married by 22. Ready for babies by 25.
And then discovered that my period going on vacation was, actually, a problem.
More to come on this subject. How about your story? Would you care to share it, anonymously or not?