Blood is such an excellent prompt for a piece of fiction, but I’m having the damnedest time thinking of one because all I can focus on is the blood gushing out of me at this moment. Thanks to hormonal birth control, I barely bled for the last twenty years. My periods were usually three days of light bleeding and no cramps – so my whole life I’ve had NO idea what women with heavy or painful periods went through. My periods were terrible when they first started, but it was so long ago I’d forgotten.
Until this year.
I’m experiencing heavy bleeding for the first time as an adult. I mean cups full of scarlet blood, much redder and thicker than I expected it to be, poured into my drain… which is unexpectedly satisfying. I’m experiencing strong cramps for the first time. Now that I have a copper IUD in, I’m experiencing menstruation-induced pain for the first time. And it’s a motherfucker. My lower back hurts in a way that I’ve heard women complain about but have never been able to imagine. So bad that I don’t want to go to the gym today, even though I know exercise will help.
I’m skittish about using my cup this month because my first IUD expelled last month during my period, so I’m using a pad for the first time since I was thirteen, which is a weird feeling (tampons are wildly expensive here – around $.50 a pop – and stores don’t sell the ones without applicators). It’s uncomfortable and I can actually feel the blood coming out of my body in spurts.
The strangest thing about all of this is that it actually feels good emotionally. Even though I’m experiencing pain, I also feel much more connected to my body, to the other women in my life, and to the natural world. I know that sounds so fucking cheesy, especially given that the reason I’m bleeding more is that I have a piece of metal in my uterus – but the feeling is genuine. I want to make art with my blood. I want to be fucked bent over in my shower, hands against the tiles – to have him come inside of me, to watch the pink fluid run down my leg in rivulets and mix in with the water on my shower floor while panting (Y’all know period sex is so good, right? My orgasms are much more intense right before or at the beginning of my cycle!). And I want to talk about menstruation. To men (gasp!).
Women are made to feel shame our whole lives for something we have zero control over – socialized to believe we are dirty or smelly or untouchable when in actuality, we are badass. Every month, we go to work or school while bleeding. We play sports and work out while bleeding. We go on dates and hang out with friends while bleeding. We take care of kids and partners while bleeding. We program and shop and dance and work outdoors and swim and study and read and run conferences and write and make art and make music and cook and take boxing classes and sleep and drive and argue and heal and play while actual blood – ounces of it – is coming out of our uteri. Some women have incredibly painful periods, and they still do all this shit.
Half the population bleeds for approximately 15-20% of their reproductive lives. That’s a lot of blood… but many of us never talk about it. And I think we should – or at least, we should feel like it’s okay to talk about without the people around us clamping their hands to their ears and exclaiming, “TMI!” Can you imagine people doing that if you started talking about what you ate for dinner or how long you slept last night?
I’ve had more than one male partner freak out because he suddenly saw a little bit of blood on his dick and he thought something was TERRIBLY WRONG when in fact, he had just knocked a little blood loose from my cervix at the beginning or end of a cycle. I have male friends who refuse to have sex with their partners while they’re bleeding because the mere sight of blood unnerves them… in person. Seeing pints of blood squirt out of various body parts in a Quentin Tarantino film is no problem, but if it’s on a tampon, it is gross and terrifying.
But period sex is awesome for a lot of women; if we can handle a cunt full of blood five to seven days a month (and spotting in between), men can probably give a go to having a little blood on their cock for five minutes. I say if the sight of blood bothers you, try a blindfold! Your partner is powerful at this time anyway (I mean… at least according to Pagan folks), so it seems like a good time to work on your submissive side. When your partner wants to talk about what’s going on with her body, listen. If you have a question, ask! Communication is aces. Period fucking: Don’t knock it ‘til you try it.
Menstruation affects most aspects of our lives in some way – for me, it can impact mood, diet, activities, libido, and physical and emotional comfort. For women without access to educational or medical resources or menstrual products, it can be completely life-altering. One thing it does not do is impact the decisions I make at work or how I engage in other life responsibilities… but it does affect my life, and I expect to be able to acknowledge that.
I’m happy I bleed. It makes me feel strong. It makes me feel incredibly horny (my period horn is super intense now that I’m off the hormones). Sometimes it makes me feel crummy and sore and frustrated and sensitive too, but I wouldn’t change it if I could.