Author: Erin Leeder (she/her)
I’ll cut to the chase: periods are nothing to be ashamed of!
But, the teenage me did not realize that.
I used to do so many weird things to avoid people finding out about my period because I was embarrassed. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but here are a few things that I used to do to avoid anyone finding out about my period.
Hide Period Products
I bet many people can relate to this one. I would hide my period products in the back of a drawer in the bathroom, tucked behind extra bars of soap and first aid supplies. But it didn’t stop there. I would come up with so many weird ways to hide my period products when using a public washroom like slipping tampons up my sleeve, or shoving pads in my pockets (only if my shirt was long enough to cover the pocket itself...can’t risk it showing). I would insist on bringing my whole backpack to the washroom with me so I wouldn’t have to take my period products out ahead of time. I just couldn’t risk anyone knowing I had period products!
Opening Period Products as Quietly as Possible
Once I made it to the public washroom, I would be hoping that it was empty! But if it wasn’t, I would hide in the stall and wait. I would wait until everyone else had left, or, if it was too busy, I hoped that the noise from the hand dryer would cover up the sound of my crinkly pad wrapper (seriously, why are those things so loud?!). This usually resulted in me spending way too long in the washroom stall because no way was I going to let anybody find out that I was on my period!
Avoided Changing My Period Products at Someone Else’s House
If I were to ever go to someone else’s house I would do everything I could to avoid changing my pad or tampon because I didn’t want them finding the packaging in their garbage! I’m lucky enough to have a lighter flow, so I could get away with wearing the same period product for quite a long time. However, it was definitely unhygienic and possibly dangerous (hello toxic shock syndrome and UTI’s)! If I did have to change it, I would either try to hide my used products in their garbage somehow, or even sneak my trash into my bag so I could dispose of it at home!
I never wanted to wear a swimsuit while on my period - especially in the first couple years that I had my period when I was afraid of tampons. I would regularly pretend to be sick or make up other excuses to avoid having to go swimming. I missed out on getting to hang out by the lake with family, going to waterparks, and taking swimming lessons at summer camp! I was young and I should have been playing Marco Polo and practicing diving in my best friend’s backyard pool, but I was too busy worrying about my period.
I don’t even want to think about all the time and energy I wasted by hiding the fact that I had a period! Periods are normal and nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, I’m menstruating right now, and I don’t care who knows it! I just wish I could go back in time and convince myself that periods are not embarrassing.