…and you can have your “monthly visitor” back.
I’m talking about menstruation. I suppose this is the moment the menfolk head for the exits, unless they’d like some insight into one of the suckiest things about being a woman.
There’s a lot about being a woman that’s unfair, and I don’t just mean culturally or societally. I’m talking strictly anatomically. We have to carry the babies, we have to put up with useless bags of chest fat that make clothes fit funny, and of course we have to bleed for a week every single month.
I solved the fat bags problem (though paying a pretty penny to do so), and I desperately wanted to solve the bleeding. Because you know what makes your period worse? Knowing you will never want children, so the whole messy painful process serves absolutely no purpose for you (and in fact, I’m 47, well into “high-risk pregnancy” years. If God had any idea what she was doing, I should already be through menopause).
Caitlin Moran, in her very funny book “How To Be a Woman,” writes about getting her first period, realizing they’re perfectly horrible, and immediately looking for the “opt out” form. Which of course we don’t get one, not for that or any of the other shitty things our bodies were built for.
As I have gotten older, my periods dismayingly have gotten heavier, sometimes more painful, and more irregular–like appearing to be done for a day or even two, only to have a clot the size of my fist appear suddenly for one last great hurrah to ruin one more pair of underwear (or bed sheet; which of course only happens at 2 a.m., and you have to jump up and evict your partner so you can change it, and that’s a party every goddamn time).
Consequently, the first sign of their return every month fills me with a towering, yet impotent, rage. Because this is Mother Nature, so what the fuck can I do about it? One more week of my life wasted not wanting to do anything but just get this shit done with as quickly as possible.
I complained to my primary care doctor (who thinks the surprise after-parties may indicate fibroids, but not symptomatic enough for surgery), who said “Statistically, you should be done with your period in only three years anyway.” ONLY three years. Every single woman I’ve told this story to has snorted knowingly. “I guarantee he wouldn’t make it through one period, never mind three years of them.”
And the evidence seems to support this. Like this video of these guys who volunteered to undergo a simulated period.
As one points out, they don’t even get to have the cramps that can be so bad you want to spend the day in the fetal position (I’m not sure how to reproduce that. Eating small amounts of arsenic? How about someone walking by and randomly kneeing them in the nuts without warning? Yes, that might do it).
To their credit, I absolutely agree every man should go through it once…especially Dr.Only Three Years.
I’ve been going through it for 35 years, and just like with my boobs, all of a sudden I just wanted NOTHING MORE TO DO WITH IT.
So I went to my friend for sympathy. She’s got a history of serious, serious problems with her period, so I knew she’d understand. She did. She also had an answer. “Don’t be silly. Just go on the pill. You’ll never have to have it again.”
I might have broken a speed record with how fast I googled that shit, and she was right. Several sites confirmed there’s no medical harm in avoiding your period completely, and it’s as simple as taking only active pills and skipping the inactive placebo week (and if you’re still skeptical, a few years ago the FDA approved a drug, Lybrel, whose main use is stopping periods year round).
I might have broken another speed record with how fast I set up an appointment at my Planned Parenthood.
I’m always faintly disappointed that our Planned Parenthood never has protesters out front, mainly because I’d like an excuse to punch one of those self-righteous pricks in the face.
The staff are always ridiculously nice there; probably because they have enough problems without bad Yelp! reviews to deal with.
I was worried my breast situation would cause some confusion, but quite the opposite–the first thing the doctor asked was how much my surgery cost because she’d love to have it too (she had been flat her whole life, then in menopause they suddenly ballooned up and she hated them. Ahh, the delightful curveballs our bodies can throw at us).
She gave me Reclipsen, which should “carve away at your lining until there’s nothing left to shed”; sounds a bit gruesome, but I say carve away. I’d do it literally if I could.
Fifteen minutes later, I was out the door with my prescription for continuous birth control, no more periods. Another great thing is insurance paid for everything, which they damn well better; they take a big bite out of my paychecks and I hardly ever use it.
Now, artificially messing with hormones is nerve-wracking because there’s a whole slew of potential side effects, some quite horrific, which I had plenty of time to read about while waiting for the pharmacy. Some minor like headaches, dizziness, weight gain, nausea, and some major, like leg blood clots, daily vomiting, loss of libido (which seems a bit counterproductive if you want to use it for the traditional purpose of protected heterosexual sex), hormonal rage (or worse, crying at nothing), etc. I found one site that was full of women claiming using my particular prescription was the worst decision of their lives and someone should sue the company.
So I started taking it with extreme trepidation, hyperaware of the tiniest change in my body (I told my sister my concerns, and she said I should post my own review and complain that the drug made me paranoid). The first day there was nothing. The second day there was definitely some dizziness that lasted a few hours, and breast tenderness (which I guarantee would’ve been a lot more unpleasant with my old double D’s). I was also afraid of eating for fear of nausea.
But it’s been a week now and all is well. Can’t report on the efficacy in stopping periods for good as mine started on day three of the pill, so I wasn’t in time to head that off. But I dared to dream of a life without boobs, and now this. (Hopefully) Modern Medicine 1, Mother Nature 0.