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4 months ago by

I’m fairly new here at the Atelier as most of you loyal readers already know… When I met Garance last November, I had been working in a male dominated industry for a decade and deciding to take a totally different job in an office full of women was no small deal for me. One advantage I hadn’t really considered was how free I would finally be to talk about my period. I spent 10 years pretending I didn’t have them, feeling like shit 3 days a month and not really feeling comfortable telling my boss or my coworkers why. Being able to tell Emily and Nat that I have cramps and a migraine and it’s because I’m menstruating, and knowing they understand, has changed my professional life. In the spirit of the great feeling that comes with being open about your period, a select few in the Atelier are discussing their symptoms and dispelling, or accepting, some of the stereotypes about the very thing that defines us as women.

You get used to it coming every month…

Garance, 41:
I think the most striking thing about my period, other than the sharp pains I’ve managed to calm in recent years thanks to yoga and acupuncture (I don’t have to take Advil anymore, woohoo!) is that every time, I mean EVERY time, my period comes as a surprise.

But it’s as regular as Kim Kardashian’s eyebrows. 28 days, poof, there it is.

And I’ve got at least five different apps tracking my cycle.

And I get PMS like crazy – what better way to refresh my memory?

And Chris, who’s had enough of my mood swings, follows the rhythms of the moon on his watch (yes, he has a beautiful watch that displays the moon, it’s an Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch) and knows when it’s time to back away when I’m going to have my period before I do.

But even so, I’m always taken by surprise. Every time, it’s a catastrophe: I’m out of tampons (which is even more of a pain now that I’ve decided to only use organic cotton tampons and they don’t have them at the CVS on the corner), I’m afraid of being in pain, I cry when I catch the slightest glimpse of a cat photo on Instagram (no, but seriously, Chris, isn’t life beautiful?!)(he’s not even there, actually, he’s long gone, surfing for three days because he KNOWS)(but that’s okay, I’ll tell him by text with a loooong string of blue messages that no one will ever answer), it’s raining, and I’m wearing white jeans.

It’s okay, that’s just life. I’m like Lulu, our dog, who was playing with her ball all by herself on the beach yesterday like a big girl, pretending to lose it and then jumping for joy when she found it again.

I like adventure, I like surprises, I like living my life as a woman dangerously, you know?

I hate my period…

MJ our intern, 51:
I was 15 years seven months when my first menstrual cycle arrived, I remember vividly. Throughout high school and college, I hated that time of the month! Amid the wicked symptoms of migraines, bloating and cramps, I begged for there to be a greater purpose that would be revealed to me. Though it was hard to imagine anything beyond the discomfort as a young woman. But as the decades marched on, those symptoms softened. I had a baby. My period became a reliable non-event although one I began to cherish, for without it, the miracle of life would cease to exist. As my monthly cycle journeys on its farewell tour, I am savoring this essence of womanhood. The raging symptoms of yesteryear have returned lingering much longer than before. Yet with age and experience, I no longer allow my period to disrupt my life as it once did when I was a teenager. My perimenopausal body is in overdrive creating a final menstrual imprint so that I will never forget the tender feeling of femininity. It is a glorious phenomenon that I am sad to say goodbye to.

PMS makes you crazy…

Natalie, 25:
I so badly wish that I could write something for you that would dispel the idea that PMS makes you a crazy b!tc#. The truth is, I can’t. I am THE stereotypical example of PMS. It starts (and lasts, on and off) 10 days before I get my period. Like clockwork, I find myself scowling at my innocent coworkers (sorry guys I don’t mean it), flailing my hands in the air in disbelief (about what, I’m not sure), and getting miffed at my sister texting me things like, “I miss you let’s hang out this week” (how dare she). So yeah, PMS makes me a total psycho. All that to say, I push through it, make sure to take a few extra deep breaths throughout the day, and remember to look back and laugh at my monstrous behavior while hoping I still have friends!

Any outward sign of my period is mortifying…

Tori, 23:
In the spirit of keeping things real, I’ll put it like this: bleeding from your vagina on a monthly basis can get messy, no matter how well-mannered or intentioned we are. But I have decided to once and for all stop beating myself up over things like leaks. It happens! Sometimes my period is heavier than usual and I’m running around on the job and don’t change my tampon in time. Whatever it is, I’ve learned to embrace the situation with no shame. I’m a woman, I’m not perfect, and this monthly menstruation is one of the many beautiful, complex systems our bodies perform. I’m certainly not going to let a stain ruin my whole day, so anyone who sees it will just need to deal!

P.S. on the subject of tampons and changing them, whether it’s at your office or at home with your boyfriend, no need to hide it away in a secret smuggle to the restroom – carry that with pride! Femininity is more than red lipstick and well-tailored skirts.

58 comments

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  • And when the time comes when nature decides you are winding down with that part of your life you realize ” my friend….you were here all along to remind me of my health, the miracle of my body that allows me to create life if I chose to, to cleanse and strengthen when I don’t….”

    And you realize that it was never as bad as you thought it was. And that maybe, just maybe you might miss it when it’s gone.

    Celebrate your body – and all the gifts that come along with it.

  • Oh how I relished this post! I became pregnant in September 2015, and have yet to have another period because of breastfeeding. I never knew I would miss it so much!

  • The answer to “why?!” is pretty long and entails another topic about hormone imbalances that doesn’t get a lot of attention–just like periods–because it’s a rather unsexy topic. I see your promotion for IUDs, which is cool. But for me, periods represent stability in my health. I’d prefer to have them in my life.

  • Actually some IUDs (Copper T) are non-hormonal and do not disrupt your menstrual cycle. After a brief negative experience with hormonal birth control, this was the one I chose and it’s been great!

  • Good to know, thank you!

  • Depuis que le stérilet (DIU hormonal) est entré dans ma vie, j’ai totalement oublié le SPM et mes règles ont elles aussi tout simplement disparu depuis 5 ans (j’en ai 35) … Et je dis YEAAAAAAH!!!
    Bon, j’ai quand même attendu d’avoir un enfant avant de passer à ce mode de contraception et j’avais un peu peur à l’idée de perdre cette “manifestation de féminité” mais en fait, c’est TELLEMENT BIEN! Libérée, délivrée!!! Plus besoin de courir après les tampons, finies les douleurs abdominales… Franchement je ne comprends pas pourquoi il n’est pas plus conseillé aux femmes qui ne sont pas dans une phase de “conception” (pour favoriser les naissances???), j’ai dû en parler moi-même à la mienne qui n’y a vu aucun inconvénient tant que le suivi est régulier (1 à 2 fois par an). Il est vrai que prendre des hormones n’est jamais bon mais il y en a aussi dans les pillules et implants alors… Bref, je suis convaincue par le stérilet et bien contente d’avoir bye bye à mes règles!

  • Je viens de me relire: j’ai dû en parler moi-même à la mienne -> ma gynéco!

  • Don’t want one? I have an IUD and no period (so great) – if you’re curious, my post is HERE

  • Merci pour cet article ! On en parle de plus en plus de manière décomplexée mais par encore assez.
    Je viens de lire ce livre, “Ceci est mon sang” (d’Elise Thiebaut) qui parle de ce que vous évoquez toutes. Très instructif, je le recommande vivement pour aller plus loin !

  • No mention of a DivaCup ?? Mine has been around the world with me, twice! I never have to worry about finding tampons, let alone organic ones, again.

  • Natalie April, 18 2017, 12:47

    The Diva Cup is the source of much conversation around here! I constantly sing praises of it and have convinced a couple of my coworkers to try it. I think maybe we’ll talk about it more sometime soon x

  • As for cramps and moodiness may I suggest B Complex (B6 – most importantly). My doctor put me on it at age 27 (after a half-assed, PMS-induced suicide attempt) and honestly, I rarely had PMS once I started taking it. In fact my body didn’t swell up, my mood stayed even. I swear by this stuff… Now I’m 56 (as of last week!) and have managed to stay alive and not murder anyone else!

    Give it a try but know that it doesn’t start working in a manner of minutes… it takes weeks so be patient…. and good luck!

  • Yes to a good B Complex. Make sure it is methylated (5-MTHF instead of folic acid, methyl B12 etc.) Folic acid is NOT the form available in food and it can mess with your body’s metabolism.

    If pain/cramping and mood swings are a big issue, it’s probably even more important to get a good B12 full-spectrum supplement to start with. Global Healing’s VeganSafe gets rave reviews and seems to be very effective. (It’s very important not to take any old B12 — most of what is available is garbage because of the specific form of B12 used.) I can’t stress the need for B12 enough, especially for people who are vegan and any non-red meat eaters. It’s a very complex vitamin and it poorly absorbed by a lot of people.

    If you take VeganSafe though, don’t take a B Complex unless vetted by someone who really knows what they are doing (the formula could clash), but do eat greens and veggies every day to get plenty of folate from natural sources. You need folate – it’s very important – but a lot of folate supplements can cause problems.

    If you’re still having issues after taking VeganSafe and eating plenty of vegetables, then also do tests for other B vitamin deficiencies with a good functional medicine practitioner and address any deficiencies with specific doses (not a B complex). Your body may not be absorbing certain nutrients property.

    Finally, adding a good Omega 3 supplement doesn’t hurt and will probably ease any cramps and pain; or eat a couple or servings of fatty fish such as wild salmon or sardines per week.

  • I will only say one thing: The Diva cup changed my life….so much comfort you have no idea. I strongly recommend it to everyone :)

  • Natalie April, 18 2017, 12:46

    YES! The Diva Cup is my best friend and I tell it to anyone who will listen x

  • YES to menstrual cups! I love the lunette.

  • Ah oui, j’allais en parler, la cup! Le truc qui fait qu’on n’a plus de fuite, plus de risque de ne pas en avoir au magasin du coin, et qu’on n’y pense plus. Ca a aussi changé ma vie, et celle de mes copines que j’ai bassinées. Ca n’enlève pas la douleur ni le SPM, mais on les oublie vraiment dans la journée.
    Joli témoignage, celui de MJ…

  • Great piece!

    Lately I’ve been asking myself why we go to such great lengths to hide this perfectly natural process from men, from society, from everyone. We’ve convinced ourselves that our own blood is bad. For millennia we’ve been taught that our body’s natural shedding process is shameful.

    Yes, it is messy and uncomfortable, and I’m not saying bleed on everything — but menstruation’s taboo status needs to go!

    I’m a huge fan of the Diva Cup as well!

  • Am I the only one here who has repeatedly tried menstrual cups and invariably ended up writhing in pain? It seems to change the life of everyone who tries it, I must say I am a little jealous…

  • The same. I’m so in pain i can’t stand more than 15 minutes the cup. It’s so frustrating when your friend tell you it has solved so many problems like cystitis and mycology.

  • When you can’t have children and the purpose of this monthly proof of your feminine nature push each month the ugly truth to your face when you only would like to forget. It took time to make a truce with my periods. Even now… When I’m down, i can’t find any purpose to this, and it’s overwhelming.

  • therese April, 18 2017, 1:53 / Reply

    I had someone tell me I would miss it when it was gone and I hate to say that it is true. Those little hormones are so wonderful for keeping your body fluid and balanced. Plus it is such a huge shift in your body. It takes a bit to feel relevant again and not old.
    Yes to the B12 and also a good maca suppliment or powder works wonders too. It helped with flow and cramps big time. It can get strong as you are transitioning to the non years. Diet is really huge in how you react too. I altered alot of my problems in my 40’s. Wish I had done it earlier.
    I used a natural sponge toward the end and loved that over tampons.

  • Celina Yanez April, 18 2017, 2:09 / Reply

    YASSSS Tori! Preach giirrl! I’m SO over it. Buy new panties. It’s ALL good.

  • RIGHT?! Thank you, Celina :)

  • Joëlle April, 18 2017, 3:21 / Reply

    Je suis députée…. Et je préside une commission parlementaire… Un jour, en commission, j’ai fait une mini hémorragie. Le secrétaire de commission m’a chuchoté : “Mme la Présidente, il y a du sang sous votre chaise…” C’est, à ce moment que j’ai décidé de me faire opérer de mon fibrome.

  • Juliette April, 18 2017, 3:39 / Reply

    Tori I TOTALLY share your point of view !! I had a leak just two days ago… not fun but neither a drama ! ;)

  • So happy to hear people share in my no-shame mentality on this one! Thank you for your comment, Juliette.

    Tori x

  • Ha I don’t hide it from my male co-workers. “I need to run to the drugstore at lunch.” “Why?” “Feminine products.” “Ah okay.” Or a guy friend says, “You barely touched your lunch.” “Yeah I have my period and my stomach hurts. It’s killing my appetite.”

    I find most guys aren’t even all that weird about it. They have moms, sisters and/or girlfriends — they know the deal. As long as women don’t use their periods as an excuse to be nasty to people (because it’s not an excuse to be rude), men won’t have an excuse to treat it as some sort of impediment. And if it’s not an impediment men stop acting weird about it.

  • YES, JB! I love this and you are so right. Thank you for your comment :)

    Tori x

  • Dean Corno April, 18 2017, 6:42 / Reply

    I was 100% on board with not being ashamed of carrying a tampon. I would carry them out in the open no problem. But I just moved to South Korea and now I feel like I have to be so discreet and smuggle them everywhere. I don’t actually know what the culture is like about it but I just feel so awkward now.

  • Sorry to hear that, Dean :/ Hopefully once you become more acclimated to the culture, you can go back to your prideful ways! I believe you can do it and thank you for this comment :)

    Tori x

  • Try the diva cup! It’s much lower maintenance than using tampons. You only have to empty it a couple times a day even when flow is heavy.

  • I love this, a period piece! <3
    For those of you who can, you should use menstrual cups, they come in different sizes and colors and brands and are made of silicone which is super hygienic for your body. And you can have it for years and years! Sadly I can't use them because of my endometriosis and the extreme cramps it gives me. So they aren't for everyone, but they are such a great product! And definitely worth a try.
    Lets talk more about the female body! I love it!

  • Hey, I don’t think I can comment? I’m using Firefox. Does any one have the same problem?

  • Natalie April, 19 2017, 8:32

    We’re receiving your comments Caroline! x Natalie

  • I love my period, yes, I do.
    It’s the PMS that sucks. During those 10 days before I’m really scared about those job occasions when you need to be calm and professional: it’s so difficult not to be influenced by our hormones.
    That said, once the period arrives I feel the relief, the real feeling of everything going at the right place.
    M

  • Read the Period Repair Manual by Lara Briden. A fountain of knowledge about having a healthy cycle, and the ways you can support it with food, lifestyle and minerals (e.g. magnesium & zinc). Changed the way I look at my cycle enormously, and even put me out of my lower back pain aaagony every month!

  • Please, please go on, and write a full article (not a mini) on menstrual cups !
    It changed my life (and many of my friend’s), and talking about it here would be so great for girls who don’t know about it or who are afraid to try…!

  • Gretchen April, 19 2017, 12:21 / Reply

    I am adding my hooray for Diva Cups to the others who have already mentioned it. It took a little while for me to get the hang of it, but it has changed how I view my period. I feel more proud or at least aware of my body rather than grossed out as I often did using a tampon. It is liberating!

  • I posted my question under the interview with Christophe Robin, cuz, it’s about hair, but it is also about period, so I’ll paste it here too, maybe it gets answered quicker: I heared a statement the other day, which sounded like an urban legend, but it might be true: If you are dying your hair on the first day of your period, or during your period you don’t get the proper colour. Is this true? I am rather skeptical and cannot tell, as I am not dying my hair. Any experiences? Thanks!

  • Orangeufunny April, 19 2017, 5:45

    I have read that the only reason not to dye your hair during your period is that the skin on your scalp may be more sensitive at that time, but it should not effect the colour that is deposited into your hair. It might make you feel better to have a fresh colour too.

  • I love these stories!!! Like any woman, I can relate to all of them. It is always so refreshing to put these conversations out there, like this. What a breath of fresh air! Thank you!

  • nathalie April, 20 2017, 3:58 / Reply

    Marianne Rosenstiehl, photographe française a fait une très belle expo sur le sujet des règles.

  • How did I get through my life without discussing this with anyone except my mother when it first happened? My best friend and I hardly mentioned it. And my mother taught me to be modest as well as strong, and get on with my life in spite of inconvenience, pains, &c. She also told me about codeine in case the pain was bad, which it sometimes was.

    It is a private thing, not to do with shame. Modern women have lost the idea of modesty. I would hate to listen to a bunch of women moaning about their period. I thought you were all “powerful” and going to run the world?

  • Excellent topic! After five years of secondary infertility – behind me with the birth of our second child thank God – I’ve had quite a history with my period. All those months and years hoping for a miracle and getting that damn period instead. And post failed IVF period is terrible. Now I have awful periods thanks to fibroids probably from IVF drugs. I schedule around my period to try to ease the load those days but still hate planning for it and never have enough pads. My angel husband has gone to the store for me on several occasions. Getting in touch with the monthly cycle of moods is so important! I get major Venus week highs…and major Pms. Thanks for this!

  • I’m with Tori!!! Yes girl! I was always like that, it’s natural, it’s a part of who we are. Why hide it?!??! I always discussed it also with all my boyfriends, so they would and could better understand. I think it is an incredible way of nature showing us what our bodies can do.
    I have had terrible PMS until recently, I don’t know if it was the diet change or vitamin B or magnesium, but I get no bloating, no tender breasts, no crazy mood swings. When I got my last period my boyfriend asked me: “But how, you were ‘normal’ all the time and didn’t yell at me once…” ?

  • Hello Audrey,
    Quelle est la marque de ce bel ensemble de lingerie ?
    Merci!

  • Charlotte April, 21 2017, 10:30 / Reply

    To Garance: I found out about LOLA this year. Organic tampon delivery service (and really cute branding!) Also, the founders seem really sweet and honest. Check them out!

    https://www.mylola.com/

  • Hello audrey
    Je ne suis pas sure que les commentaires apparaissent j’ai un message d’erreur. Bref au casva ou j’aurais bien aime connaitre la marque de ce bel ensemble de lingerie !
    Merci!

  • What is the lingerie brand in the photo?! I need that bra! <3

  • I see a lot of mentions of DivaCup, and I just wanted to mention that I use Lena Cup now and much prefer it! I had DivaCup for a few years, and switched to Lena Cup 6 months ago. For my own body, it’s a much better fit! Plus Lena Cup donates way more cups to women in need (e.g. Domestic violence shelters) and uses more sustainable materials.
    xo

    https://lenacup.com/

  • Theresa April, 24 2017, 6:57 / Reply

    Why, oh why, are you all forcing yourselves to have periods every month? You know that’s not how the human body naturally works, right?

    Or maybe you don’t, because you haven’t read bestelling author Malcolm Gladwell’s excellent expose about the Pill and how it’s changed what we think is ‘natural’. (I can’t link to it, so Google ‘John Rock’s erorr’).

    It’ll change your world.

    Signed,
    Someone who tries to have around 6-8 periods a year and is much happier for it

  • The documentary ‘The moon inside you’ was one of a word based things that helped me come to physical peace with my period. No pain since. Have a look at it.

  • gabriela May, 2 2017, 11:52 / Reply

    Someone around here tried PERIOD PANTIES?

  • faut passer à la cup!!!! c’est génial!

  • Hey,

    Great post but I am surprised that it seems you all wear tampons and nothing else. Have you tried the moon cup? I think you need a post about it. It is amazing and changed the way I live my period. First you can keep it in for 12 hours so no need to empty it when you are at work or out, second you can actually see the amount of blood you loose (I like checking it when I empty it in my shower at night – I know (!) a little bit weird but it is interesting to see the changes from one month to the other) and last but not least it is great for the environment. Bought mine 18 months ago and that’s me sorted for 10 years!! I LOVE it!
    :) Laurianne xx

  • Natalie May, 23 2017, 9:48

    Yes I am with you! I have successfully converted two others in the studio to Diva Cup users. I love it so much and can’t say enough good things about it. Glad it’s working well for you, too :) xx

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