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?
I’m Meaghan Wray (she/her), a freelance journalist and copywriter based in Toronto. I love writing about beauty, lifestyle, and health and wellness. I’m especially passionate about sex and body positivity (I wrote about why everyone should be having period sex!). I’m currently working on my first book about fatness and desirability politics.
Photo credit: Gabby Frank
How did you first learn about periods?
I can’t really remember when I first learned about them, but I imagine it was in sex ed class in grade four or five. I honestly remember just laughing a lot with a friend out of discomfort. Periods weren’t really talked about at my home that much.
Do you remember your first period conversation? Who was it with and what was that like?
When did you get your first period?
I got my first period when I was in grade 6.
How was it? What happened?
I don’t remember the moment I first got it, but I remember feeling really embarrassed. I didn’t tell my mom for a year, bought my own pads or took them from her bathroom, and hid the fact that I had my period from my friends. I was terrified to tell my mom. I remember feeling really dirty, sadly. Growing up, there was a lot of shame around periods and feminine “hygiene” in general. It was very hush-hush and not meant to be spoken about. I had to take pads from my mom’s closet until she finally found out because I was staining my underwear, as I didn’t know how to put on a pad properly. I felt really alone in something that so many people go through. To this day, I still feel some shame around talking about it. It’s hard to shake.
Do you try to take extra care of yourself while on your period? If so, how?
I haven’t started taking extra care until quite recently. Even at 30, I didn’t realize how much more energy our bodies use while menstruating. I used to force myself to workout, be up early and not rest more at a time when my body really needed it. Now, I use this time to rest more than usual. That’s one thing I’ve found hardest to actually do. I already incorporate typical self-care activities, like baths and face masks, into my weekly lifestyle… But rest, that’s one thing I really allow myself more of during my period. This looks like sleeping in, sleeping earlier, daytime naps, fewer hard workouts (because my body usually doesn’t feel up for it), feel-good movies and light, leisurely walks outside.
What are your favourite period products?
My period is extremely light, so I almost never use pads or tampons. I mainly just wear period underwear, and I absolutely love them because it means I don’t have to purchase products that are uncomfortable to wear and not good for my body. I also have a nixit cup on hand just in case I have a heavier flow. These aren’t considered a period product, but a must is a heating pad. I always find my body is achy on my period and it’s a huge comfort.
Is there anything else about your period experiences you want to share?
I wish there was less stigma around periods. I get frustrated having to organize so many things around this thing that happens once a month, and I can’t imagine what it’s like for folks with really heavy cycles. Even at 30, I still forget to bring a pad or tampon with me sometimes—when my cycle surprises me while I’m out, it’s horrible if you’re somewhere where you can’t easily find a product you need. Also, why aren’t pads and tampons FREE yet?!
Have the last challenging months affected your period and if so, how did you best navigate?
Yes! Like many people who menstruate, I experienced a missed period after my first vaccine dose. It was really scary. My period is very regular, so naturally I thought I was pregnant and rushed out to get a test. It’s no surprise that this side effect either wasn’t talked about before, or wasn’t even on anyone’s radar during testing.