Women. We live, we breathe, we BLEED. From our vaginas. On the regular. And also at other times. A lot. Why does no one tell us in advance?! In honor of Halloween, here is a spooky and non-exhaustive list of times you may bleed. You may not, but you might. And it never hurts to know in advance that it’s a possibility. Let’s commit to stop being blindsided by blood and let each other know! Tell us what I missed in the comments!
- Your first period – OK. Many of us do have a vague understanding that might be coming. And I do see younger girls being more public and less covered in shame, but still. Let’s get those girls some pads and tell them what a light flow is, what a heavy flow is, and how to take care of it.
- Early periods – Young women and girls need to know this about periods: It can change at any time. ANY TIME. If you spotted for a couple months, be aware that your next one can be heavy. Prepare yourself (prepare the young ladies in your life!) with a variety of pads of tampons for different flows. From a friend: “When I was 12 my period went from a few spots to like, full blood deluge – on a day that I was volunteering with homeless men…so like, no tampons or pads to be found. IE: things can change!”
- Sex (for the first time!) – Another thing that is in the ether of life, purity and white dresses mean something, right? In talking to women, I heard a full spectrum from nothing at all to full on old-timey stained sheets. One woman said “I powered through and the result was a dorm bed covered in blood and me passing out in the bathroom a few minutes after it ended. BUT, after that I could wear tampons (and have sex, duh), so it was pretty exciting.” Be aware – sex for the first time may not be just a little uncomfortable. It could also be a bloody nightmare. And that’s ok, too!
- Getting an IUD – Did you know? I didn’t. A friend says “The most blood has come out of my vagina after I got my IUD in. My obgyn didn’t really go into details just how drastically my period would change. I was bleeding for about 3 weeks straight and going through maxi pads every hour. Ugh!” Heads up if you get as IUD, side effect could include: Blood.
- Taking an IUD out – Same. Your period could change, you could spot to have heavy bleeding anywhere from right after to three weeks later. Your period itself can change too from frequency to flow. Now you know!
- Medical Abortion – Says a friend, “When I had a medical abortion (pill, not D&C) it was hell on earth. Painful, horrible, so much blood. Felt like, large clots fall out my body.” With so so many other physical and emotional sensations bombarding your body, you don’t need surprise at huge amounts of blood to be one of them. If you get a medical abortion, you may be passing heavy amounts of blood and blood clots for the next couple weeks.
- D&C Abortion – The internet says you may spot for several days. Several friends who are experts in being female add that you may have heavy bleeding or clotting as well. “No one told me how much blood there would be, it was terrifying. Turns out, normal, but terrifying.” Hey, doctors! Give these ladies fair warning, yeah?!
- Miscarriage – Bleeding can be the sign of a miscarriage, and can also occur for several days to a couple weeks after. “I knew something was wrong with the amount of blood, but after I left the hospital I just kept bleeding.” Have your partner or a friend pick up some pads so you can ditch those terrible hospital ones as soon as you can.
- HSG Test (Or Dye Test) – This Adult Contemporary was born out of getting a Dye Test and being told to expect some very light spotting that day. I bled for a week and spotted for another. It went away, it came back. I am an adult women who can handle blood. WHEN I KNOW ABOUT IT. So, now I know about it and you do too!
- Pap Smears – It is not unheard of to spot for a couple days after a Pap Smear. While doctors find the time to scrape your cervix, many skedaddle before letting you know not to worry if you see a little blood in the following days. Must be very busy.
- Induced Stillbirth – This is a shitty thing. When the baby you wanted dies in utero, often you have to give birth anyway. On top of laboring a baby who is already gone, you have to recover from childbirth. While my doctors were extremely caring and loving even, I wish someone would have told me just how much blood there would be. It’s scary to continue to see blood and enormous clots of blood still passing weeks later. To not be expecting it added another layer of chilling fear to an already terrible time. If this happens to you or someone you know – there is going to be a lot of blood. Heavy flow levels for days. And the natural pads from Whole Foods are the most comfortable.
- Labor and Delivery – Apparently, most of childbirth is shrouded in mystery judging by how many friends start sentences with “Nobody tells you that…” after they give birth. There will be SO MUCH blood. Every woman I spoke to expected blood. No one knew how very much blood there would be. This could be it’s own list: Blood during delivery, blood after, soaking heavy flow pads for days, and weeks in some cases. Spotting and clotting for longer. There seems to be a consistent thread through stories of a general unpreparedness for the aftermath. Let’s get ourselves prepared.
Again, this is not an exhaustive list. Blood! It happens to all of us! Instead of sparing each other the gory details or trying to spare our friends the messy realities, I think we should be real with each other. TELL YOUR FRIENDS. TALK ABOUT IT. Carry tampons. It doesn’t have to be shocking, it can just be the truth.