Four Period Stories
Four Period Stories
This passage describes the diverse experiences of individuals with menstruation, highlighting the stories of Kayden, Heather, Jay, and Jess. Kayden, a trans-masculine non-binary person, experienced periods before and after hormone therapy, leading to emotional distress and dysphoria. They found solace in period underwear and advocated for inclusive facilities. Heather faced years of mistreatment and neglect from medical professionals before receiving an endometriosis diagnosis. Jay, a transgender woman, experiences periods due to medication affirming her gender identity. Jess, a cisgender woman, dealt with heavy and prolonged periods, leading to financial difficulties and advocating against period poverty. Despite undergoing a hysterectomy, she still experiences related issues.
The experiences of menstruation are varied, and they shape our individual journeys in different ways. Whether it's the first time discovering blood in our underwear, bleeding through clothing, unexpected periods during trips, or seemingly endless months of menstruation, the themes of surprise, fear, embarrassment, shame, empowerment, and acceptance are universal.
Kayden Hunter, a trans-masculine non-binary individual, shares their unique story. As a teenager, Kayden dealt with heavy and irregular periods, and they started using the combined pill to manage them. When they began testosterone therapy at 21, their periods stopped for five years, only to unexpectedly return irregularly, though not as heavy, for several months.
While testosterone therapy often stops monthly bleeding, many trans men and trans-masculine individuals still experience some form of menstrual cycle, such as irregular bleeding, spotting, or cramps. Unfortunately, there is a lack of research on menstruation in trans people.
Understandably, Kayden was upset when their period returned after not experiencing it for five years. It made their life more challenging, causing them to miss classes at university due to the pain and emotional distress. Kayden withdrew from social circles and avoided dating, fearing judgment from others and feeling uncomfortable with physical touch. Periods had always been a significant source of dysphoria for Kayden, and their return diminished their hope.
However, Kayden has learned to live with their menstruation and has found some solace in period underwear, which alleviates worries and allows them to go about their day without constantly thinking about menstruation.
Through their journey, Kayden has become acutely aware of the lack of sanitary bins in men's bathrooms, which forces them to use disability bathrooms and makes them feel like they are taking up unnecessary space. They are now advocating for their university to provide these facilities in men's bathrooms to better accommodate individuals like them.
On a positive note, Kayden emphasizes that there is no shame in being a man who menstruates. It takes strength to exist as such in a world that often denies their existence and fails to create inclusive spaces. Kayden encourages others to make their own space, take care of themselves and others, and challenge societal norms.
Heather McIvor, a non-binary individual using they/them pronouns, has had a challenging and deeply personal journey with periods. They initially experienced irregular and heavy periods, which led to severe anemia due to excessive blood loss.
Over the years, Heather's periods and pain worsened, causing them to become bed-bound for months at a time. Constantly bleeding through clothes and bedding increased their financial burden and triggered anxieties about odor and stains. Unfortunately, Heather faced years of mistreatment, gaslighting, neglect, and invalidation from medical professionals, loved ones, and even a surgeon
Their illness forced them to miss work and heightened anxiety around restroom breaks when there weren't enough colleagues available for coverage. Seeking medical help, Heather was diagnosed with depression and had their symptoms ignored. Despite persistent visits to doctors, their age, appearance, and mental health history led to dismissal of their concerns.
Heather's experience of being ignored by their doctor is sadly not uncommon. Research in the UK indicates that it takes an average of seven and a half years to diagnose endometriosis, and only in 2020 were best-practice guidelines introduced for doctors in New Zealand.
Financially and emotionally drained, Heather spent significant amounts of money on doctor's appointments, constantly discussing their debilitating period symptoms without any tangible solutions. This financial strain made them feel like a burden to their partner and friends, as they couldn't afford social outings.
It was only after a suicide attempt that Heather was referred to a gynecologist and finally received an endometriosis diagnosis after surgery. While the confirmation brought some closure, it was a bittersweet moment for Heather.
From their journey, Heather learned the importance of trusting their own body above anyone else, including doctors and loved ones. They recognized their worthiness of life, love, and proper medical care.
In a different context, Jay, a transgender woman using she/her pronouns, experiences periods due to medications used to affirm her gender identity. Although menstruation in trans bodies is not well understood, Jay's experience aligns with others who have started feminizing hormone therapy, indicating that hormonal cycles can still exist and impact people's lives. Jay uses period underwear to enhance comfort during her periods.
Yessenia (Jess) Sandoval, a cisgender woman using she/her pronouns, got her first period at 13. With limited education about periods, she initially believed she was dying and kept it a secret for a few days. In her late teens, Jess's periods became heavy and painful, leading to an endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome diagnosis in her early 20s.
Jess's periods became increasingly problematic, lasting for weeks or months and causing financial difficulties. She required excessive amounts of tampons and pads, often bleeding through them even when using multiple layers. Jess experienced challenges at work due to low iron levels, fainting episodes, and deteriorating mental and physical health.
As a single mother, Jess struggled to afford period products on top of everyday expenses, doctor appointments, and missed workdays. This personal experience led her to actively fight against period poverty, understanding the hardships faced by those unable to afford essential period products.
Although Jess had a hysterectomy, she continued to experience light bleeding and required period products even two years after the surgery. She still suffers from ovulation pain, bladder issues, and discharge due to suspected ruptured cysts. Period underwear has been helpful in managing these issues, and Jess wishes she could go back in time to advise her past self to try using it while offering support and encouragement.