Finally, a candid conversation about periods. We get it. Periods are personal. Choosing empowerment over embarrassment, we’re here to give a real-life lesson on menstrual cycles and our bodies. And what better way to do that than from hearing stories about periods from our colleagues, friends and people we have met on this incredible journey. So join us as we talk about- yep, you guessed it - periods. #leaveyourstain
Who are you (we’d love to get to know you!) and what are your pronouns?
A: Hi! My name is Cassandra Earle and my pronouns are she/her. I’m 20 years old and going into my final year of university as a journalism student. I also run the Instagram account @her_uterus where I discuss my experience living with chronic and reproductive illnesses in addition to having conversations about menstrual health. I make short form videos, graphics and blog posts all while using humour and education to get my message across! On this account I work to foster a community where people can support one another through the difficult journey that is chronic illness. It’s my greatest passion.
How did you first learn about periods?
A: I learned about periods from my mom. She has a disease called endometriosis which can cause a lot of pain in relation to your period cycle, so we talked about it growing up. The disease can be hereditary, so she kept a close eye on me and held my hand through every step. I was eventually diagnosed with endometriosis (among other reproductive conditions) so I’m glad I learned about it when I did.
Do you remember your first period conversation? Who was it with and what was that like?
A: I can’t say I remember the first one specifically, but I know it was with my mom for sure. The conversation has always been part of my life and not something my family ever shied away from. It was explained to me as a natural, bodily experience and not something that was “gross” or to be ashamed of. I remember being glad I understood what was going to happen/happening to my body and being prepared for it in advance. I felt ready for it when it finally came!
When did you get your first period?
A: I was twelve, almost thirteen years old!
How was it? What happened?
A: I was confused at first because I had a lot of pain coming along with it. I thought I had a stomachache or ate something wrong. It was rather painful from the get-go. We were at a family friend’s house for dinner, so I wasn’t really sure what to do in that setting. Eventually I told my parents and we worked it out! It also didn’t look how I expected it to at first, without much “red” blood. Eventually it did a few days in! I just remember being in a lot of pain and being confused with why it didn’t look like it did in books or how people explained it to me.
Do you try to take extra care of yourself while on your period? If so, how?
A: Honestly, because of how painful my periods are, I don’t have much choice. I have to take good care of myself during my period. I’m usually tethered to my heating pad at any time, taking hot baths and relying on Advil and Tylenol. I make sure I sleep well and as much as I can. I try to lower my physical activity because that can be a huge trigger for my endometriosis pain, but if I can manage it, I sometimes do some light stretching. Mainly, though, I try to give myself permission to rest. I’m a very busy person and like to keep it that way, but when I’m in pain I remind myself to rest without feeling guilty.
What are your favourite period products?
A: So many! My heating pad is probably my most effective tool – I can’t go without it when I’m in pain. Hot baths are amazing too. I’ve been looking into CBD lately and that’s been rather successful so far! I also do take painkillers when it gets bad.
Is there anything else about your period experiences you want to share?
A: I guess I want others to know they aren’t alone! None of my friends experienced the same excruciating pain I did during my cycle, so I often felt alone or as if I just had a low pain tolerance. There’s so many other people out there who relate to you and your experience! Period pain and/or endometriosis is not something I would wish upon anyone.
Have the last challenging months affected your period and if so, how did you best navigate?
A: I think they definitely have! I’m currently on medication that suppresses my periods to manage my endometriosis pain associated with my cycle, but due to the stress of the last few months, I’ve had some breakthrough bleeding which has been hard to manage. I think I’ve got it worked out now, with making a conscious effort to lower my stress levels, but it was hard for a while!