The Podcast that’s All About Periods–and How to Be Empathetic, not Creepy or Mean

by | Aug 6, 2020 | Uncategorized | 13 comments

The Period Podcast: How can we lessen the shame around menstruation?

Why are periods so often associated with shame?

It’s time for our podcast post, and today’s podcast features Rebecca and me jumping around all the topics we’re going to cover about periods this month (well, just about all!). We opened our series on Monday and Tuesday talking about the shame girls often experience as teenagers around summer and going to the beach, and then we looked at how we can help men and boys be more sensitive and aware with what girls go through with periods.

This was a fun one–and you can either listen to it or watch it on YouTube! And it honestly had some really funny moments in there–especially when Rebecca was explaining the difference between being empathetic and being creepy. 

And here it is on YouTube!

 

And if you’re wondering why we’re surrounded by clothes, it’s because we filmed this one in my closet. We’ve been having sound issues, and we’re really working on it behind the scenes. We bought some great foam sound proofing for our studio, but it’s not set up yet. And the closet has great sound. So there you go!

Some quick thoughts:

Sometimes a Vagina is Just a Vagina

As we said on a podcast a while ago, sometimes a vagina is just a vagina. And yet in the church we often equate everything about vaginas with sex, which is why I think periods become so secretive and shameful, and why people often say that using a tampon impacts your virginity (we had a lot of fun discussing that one on the podcast! And you’ll hear way TMI about my last pelvic ultrasound, too. But it’s pretty funny).

No adult man should work with preteens or teenagers without at least understanding this stuff

The number of girls who were shamed because of adult men, or put in untenable situations at camp or youth group because of adult males, just needs to stop. Seriously. Half the world goes through this, so all youth workers, teachers, camp leaders, and more should know how to be sensitive to girls’ periods.

And a great place to start with that is to raise your boys to understand it now! In our Whole Story puberty course, we explain about periods in detail to the girls, telling them how it works, how tampons work, how to create an emergency kit, and more, but we also explain it to the guys so that they can be aware of what girls are going through, and so they can treat girls properly around their periods.

And it’s got special COVID pricing right now!

 

You’re telling me WHAT goes WHERE?!

Talking about sex with your kids doesn’t always go smoothly. 

That’s why we created The Whole Story, our online course that walks parents through the tough conversations and does the hard parts for you!

Sometimes other women are the least sympathetic

Because we don’t talk about periods well, we don’t understand what others go through. And if some women are blessed with easy periods, it’s easy to assume that women with heavy cramping or bleeding are just whiners.

And female physicians can even do this! The number of women (Rebecca included) who have gone in complaining of pain who have been told, “every woman goes through that; you just need to learn to manage it” when there were real issues going on is just too sad to contemplate. If your pain is affecting your daily life, or your bleeding is so heavy you need to double up on pads and tampons or sleep on a towel, that isn’t normal. We’ll be talking about that more next week, but sometimes you really have to advocate for yourself to get the medical help you need!

And again–we had a special plea in there to women to be sensitive to others, because some people honestly have worse cycles than others. 

This was a fun podcast to record–and I’ve loved all your feedback and comments this week, both on the blog and on Facebook! Please listen in. I think you’ll like it!

Let’s keep them coming–and get ready for our post next week on when to see a doctor. 

Our Period Series:

What stood out to you today? Do you find other women to be sources of shame to you around your period? How can we be kinder to one another? Let’s talk in the comments!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Founder of Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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13 Comments

  1. David Shirley

    I totally agree with what you are saying.
    What about the embarrassment that boys go through with erections especially in public and they can’t get it to go down.
    Nobody seems to deal with this
    Thanks for all you do

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      We deal with that in The Whole Story course as well, and Connor and David give boys some great tips to help. And in our girls’ version we also explain what happens.
      I think the difference is that period problems go with women until menopause, and provide a lot more discomfort.

      Reply
    • Hannah

      Everyone is different. For women like me that can’t get through a night without leaking, the best thing I started doing for myself (aside from taking liquid iron) was wearing incontinence underwear during my heaviest days and nights. I can actually rest easy in them without sleeping on a towel. I have recommended them to several women who struggled during classes and nighttime, and I say spread the word.
      I was always so sick during my period that I couldn’t really do anything but lay in bed. Homeschooled, so wasn’t an issue. My first embarrassing moment was actually in my 20s. I was just making my bed when my boyfriend (now husband) showed up unexpectedly to take me out on a date. My sheets had bloodstains and I panicked at him walking in and seeing them, but he really made it a non-event with his, “It’s just blood. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about,” comment before helping me finish. My brothers were never okay with the topic of periods, so his completely relaxed approach was really new to me. I’m so grateful that he’s understanding and has never been uncomfortable with it. He always asks what he can do to make things easier for me, and that alone makes things better!

      Reply
  2. Anna

    Crazy story: you mentioned “if you can’t insert a tampon, see someone about it”- I could never put one in without extreme anxiety. I started my period when I was 11 and didn’t have my first gynecological exam until I was 22 because I was experiencing some health problems. The gynecologist couldn’t insert the speculum and told me I was probably just tense or might have vaginismus. I married at age 20 and sex was very difficult and was still not able to insert a tampon. I assumed I had vaginismus and read this blog quite a bit to figure out what I could do to start relaxing.
    Didn’t find out the root of the problem until this year (25 now): I still had my hymen! Didn’t discover this until I got pregnant and went to my first OB appointment! I don’t even know how it was possible for us to get pregnant but it had to be removed through surgery in order to help with the birth. It was a quick procedure with an easy recovery – I wish I had found out so much earlier. As it is, I’ve got 5 years of terrible marriage sex to rebuild and when baby is born I’ll have to figure out how to use a tampon. 🙂

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Wow, Anna! Your doctor didn’t figure that out? Oh, dear! Yes, some women do have a thicker hymen that needs to be surgically removed. Oh, I’m so sorry you endured that for so long!

      Reply
  3. AM

    There’s so much that’s good here. And yes about the female doctors! I finally worked up the courage to see a gynecologist at 20. I had never been, and as an unmarried virgin, from a conservative background, I was mortified. But my periods had always been debilitating, and it was seriously interfering with college. She said “honey, you have cramps. Take some ibuprofen.” So I cried some, and soldiered on.
    Several months later, in grad school, my mom convinced me to come home, saying she’d found a doctor for me. I was non functional by then. He took a look at my ultrasound and said “they told you this was normal? Only two things cause this much fluid in a pelvis and abdomen. Ovarian cancer, and advanced endometriosis. They call ovarian cancer the silent killer for a reason, so we have cause to hope it’s endometriosis.” I was in surgery later that week. The endometriosis was everywhere.
    My husband and I have four miracle children, but at only 36, I’ve now had a hysterectomy and my fallopian tubes and an ovary removed, because after our last, the debilitating periods and endometriosis returned, this time involving my colon as well.
    I know I’m not alone, and it angers me that so many girls and women are shamed and sidelined for something that is so poorly understood by other girls, women, as well as men. I have a daughter who is due to start her cycle any time, and I’m praying her experience is better.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, AM, that’s so sad! I can’t imagine that kind of pain. I have some relatives who have had that as well, and it’s so difficult. I’m so glad you were still able to have children, especially after getting it so young!

      Reply
      • AM

        I’m so thankful, too. We can’t imagine life without them. When I had that surgery, it turned out that my appendix was also about to rupture, but I was so used to being in so much acute pain, that I didn’t realize there was something else going on, too. I just thought it was weird when I was taken back for surgery hours early because “your lab work came back funny.”
        I think it’s also important to note that many of us have tried seemingly every supplement and dietary modification out there, and it’s still terrible. We live in a complicated world with complicated bodies. (That point has been driven home even harder now that I have a medical complex, disabled child. So 👏 Much👏 Judgement 👏 about what you probably did as the mother to cause it.
        Life is complex, and sometimes there just aren’t any easy answers. However, having learned to advocate for my disabled child, and had my own experience, I’m hopeful that if my daughter has problems anything like mine (praying it isn’t so), I’ll be equipped to help her advocate for effective treatment if the natural options don’t cut it.

        Reply
    • E

      Hugs! I’m so sorry you had that experience! A big reminder to me to speak up when women do open up about abnormal issues. And I need to get seen about my cycle that has changed drastically recently. And I wish drs wouldn’t just stick people on the pill to fix everything. Which just makes other things worse.

      Reply
  4. Bre

    Wow. I just finally dived in to this new series and I have found that the topic is actually rather weird to me…I rarely ever get my period; monthly periods have never been a normal part of my life. My period never was regular from the start. It was for a few months then…basically since then I only have one or two periods a year, but there will be times where it seems like it’s getting regular for a few months then stop again. In highschool, my doctor was mildly concerned and ran test on my thyroid and it came out normal, so basically everyone was like “well, nothing deadly going on here! You’re good! Carry on!”
    Yeah… I’m 21, it’s been 9 years since my first period, and I know this is not good or normal. I was actually JUST thinking last week that I need to get it checked out. You guys talking about things not being normal in this podcast was kinda the smack in my head motivating me to get it checked out once I’m able to go to a doctor, so thanks for that.
    Weirdly enough, I’ve had the exact opposite experience with swimming and camp awkwardness. For whatever reason, every single year, without fail, one of the like three times that I would get my period would be at Bible camp! I love to swim and camp was the only time I’d really get to do it. I’ve always been pretty stubborn, so I was basically “Well screw this! Who cares? I’m not sitting out! I’ll just swim like normal anyway!” I’ve never used tampons just because I personally don’t like the idea of putting something inside of me, so I would just swim without a pad or anything. My mom freaked out because she was worried that I’d end up leaking and embarrassing myself, but it has never happened and she eventually became fine with it and swimming on my period (when I would get it) just became totally normal for me. Although, obviously I didn’t advertise it to anyone else!
    I’m really interested to get to read more on this topic; even though I’m a female, I don’t really feel like I know much about periods and I’m interested in learning more and getting to hear other people’s perspectives and experiences!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m glad it’s helping you, Bre! And, yes, you should see your physician about that. Are you underweight by any chance? That’s a big reason that many women skip periods. But definitely ask your doctor!

      Reply
      • Bre

        Actually, I’m overweight; I’ve had issues with my weight since I was a kid so maybe that has something to do with it?

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          It could! It could be PCOS or something like that. But it would be a good idea to talk to a doctor.

          Reply

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