Menstrual Hygiene Day Diaries: Period Week, A Memoir

by Karishma Sharma – Follow @kaysharmaa

Happy Menstrual Hygiene Day! With the support of over 270 global partners, including the founding NGO WASH United, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the United Nations Children’s Fund, MH Day is annually celebrated on May 28th. Various events and social media campaigns highlighting this day aim to bring awareness to the importance of good menstrual hygiene management (MHM) for women and girls worldwide and break the taboos surrounding menstruation.

[Photo Source: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,]

To celebrate in our own style, I’m going to tell an all too familiar story of…THE WEEK. The gift that comes every single month and stays for a whole week. It’s brutal, it’s painful…yet it’s instrumental for our health and wellbeing. So here’s my take on period week – the brutal stages, the ups, downs, and lows.

1) Waiting for your period to come (a.k.a. PANICKING)

You all know the feeling…sexually active or not, you panic, pray, and count using your iPhone calendar. You curse at yourself for not using one of those stupid tracker apps and swear that you’ll download it next cycle. You make promises that start with, “If I get my period, I swear I will ______.” As the Sunday of period week emerges, you find yourself going to the bathroom six times every hour just to look for it. Yes, we’ve all been there.

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2) When it finally comes, you don’t want it

After breathing your sighs of relief, thanking God and embracing the victory, you automatically shift into the “I hate my life” mode. The cramps start, the pain emerges, and the blood pools. And all you think is, “WHY ME?!”

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[Read Related: The Tale of my Period: How My ‘Ritushuddhi’ Ceremony Affirmed My Indian-American Identity]

3) The cramps begin and you don’t know if you’re going to make it

For a split second, you thought that this was that magical period in which you were going to escape all cramps. Then, the first pang of pain comes, in that awkward area between your stomach and uterus and you SCREAM OUT in pain. Thoughts that always cross my mind during the days of intense cramping: “Why isn’t there such a thing as period leave, like maternity leave? Who in my office would have Tylenol? Why is someone kicking my uterus?”

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4) The cravings start and the bloating kicks in

First, you panic, because you think you gained 100 pounds in two days. Then you realize it’s bloating and give into it. Chocolate. Sour Patch Kids. Cheese fries. Taco Bell. This is pretty much my hour-by-hour cravings during my periods. Some claim that the whole craving thing is a myth, but judging by mine and several of my friends’ and family members’ experiences, the cravings are real. And they are bad. It’s like you could eat anything and everything, and nothing is satisfying enough.

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5) The flow becomes extremely heavy

Whether it’s your first day or you’re mid-cycle, we all get that one day where it just picks up. Out of nowhere. The most unfortunate thing is when it happens overnight or when you’re out for the day and only have one tampon. Or when you have to bring your bag with you to the bathroom every hour and someone asks why. Or when you check a chair every time you get up and constantly check your pants. This is the worst of them all—the days when you question how you don’t die losing so much blood and the days you wonder how you could be so strong. You have to power through and wait it out, and it’s the worst.

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[Read Related: What To Do When Your Period Feels Like an Exclamation Point]

6) The flow lightens, you think it’s over, but then it starts up again

When that part is over and it starts to lighten up, you are OVERJOYED! “YES, IT’S ENDING,” you tell yourself. You start to imagine period-free days and wearing leggings again because your fear of bleeding through will be over, and then…nope. “I’M BACK, BITCHES,” Aunt Flo screams. It’s back and heavier than ever, and you can’t help but cry.

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7) Days of brown spotting when you wonder if it will ever end

When the brown spotting finally starts up, you think to yourself, “Hell yeah, it’s ending!” It’s the best news ever and you figure you’ll wake up with nothing left. But days go on and it doesn’t stop and you’re over wearing tampons at this point and start to get extremely peeved. “IS IT EVER GOING TO END?!”

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8) Just three weeks off before it all starts again

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Enjoy it while it lasts, ladies!

Karishma Sharma is a Bollywood Dance Fitness Instructor based in Minneapolis, MN. Her biggest hobby, her passion, and her dedication are all to fitness. She is also a dancer and is passionate about spreading her culture to those who may not be familiar. She aspires to keep her love of fitness alive each day in everything she does!

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