Health Class: Period Talk Julianna French

“One time i got really worried because I was on my period for 20 days but then I checked my calendar and it had only been 4 hours”. Thank you, Tumblr user, for that perfect analogy of how periods seems to last forever and suck. This week we’re going to discuss the finer points of the bloodiest week during the menstrual cycle with the help of social media. Some people are able to perfectly sum up how periods feel in 140 characters or less, but let’s add the science to these feelings.

Twitter user, @SayedaAbubakr, was pretty accurate when she tweeted, “Menstrual cramps are just free samples of what giving birth feels like”. According to the Cleveland Clinic, during your period your body releases excess chemicals called prostaglandins which trigger the uterus to contract. Just like during childbirth, your body goes through contractions. The difference being that, instead of a human being, you’re pushing out the lining of your uterine wall. These contractions can be strong enough that they press against nearby blood vessels, cutting off the blood supply. The pain associated with cramps is due to your body being starved of oxygen and nutrients carried by the blood. This pain can occur in your abdomen, back, and/or thighs. Prostaglandins don’t just cause pain, they can also mess with your bowel movements.

Twitter user @ST1SSY tweeted, “The first day of your period really just means you’re questioning if you have to poop all day or if it’s just your cramps.” The increase in prostaglandins can cause contractions in your bowels causing you to feel as if you have to poop more than usual and your stool to be a little loose. On the bright side, this generally only occurs during the first couple of days.

Then there’s people on tumblr who post, “People who exercise in order to get rid of their period cramps are the ones surviving the apocalypse.” The India Times reports that a moderate intensity workout helps to alleviate cramps by increasing blood circulation and making it more effective. The ones who are really going to survive the apocalypse are the ones who partake in regular, moderate levels of exercise. Forty-five minutes at least three times a week of any form of exercise has been shown to reduce the length of periods and make them less extreme. On the flip side, too much exercise can cause amenorrhea-the temporary cessation of your period. This may sound fun, but can have serious health implications in the future.

@LizHackett tweeted that “Womanhood is great until it’s days before your period and you burst into tears watching an old man paying for a bag of oranges with dimes.” This one doesn’t actually have to do with the period part of menstruation, but many people associate the two. MedlinePlus states that PMS, which begins during the second half of your cycle, is the real cause of the roller coaster of emotions experienced. During this time, your body’s hormone levels are changing, and emotions seem to follow this rise and fall of hormones. PMS ends during the first or second day of your period, and emotions should begin to become more regular again. Well, minus the emotions associated with the pain and discomfort you’re enduring.

Lane Moore may have said it best when she said, “Hey boy, are you my period? because you’re annoying as hell but I still want to see you regularly.” Despite the many downsides to having a period, which the people of the internet are more than happy to point out, at least having a regular one helps us know we’re not pregnant. Class dismissed.