A period is more than just the end of a sentence. Shark Week, a visit from the Five-day Fairy, Riding the Red Sea, whatever you call it, from the day it makes its debut to the day the red curtain closes, a period is a part of life.
From the time we are old enough to know periods exist, we ladies yearn to gain that right of feminine passage. Little did we know then, periods aren’t all prancing in a field of daisies in a long white skirt. Allow me to drop a few truths no one told you about you period
1. It can be your best friend.
Missing a period can be a bad sign. A very bad sign. Like when you had one-too-many martinis at the company Christmas party, slept with that sleazy guy from accounting and forgot to use a rubber. Or when you discover your long-term, live-in boyfriend has been boning your bestie for the last year and you are a week late. Or when you are 16 and just gave your V Card to your prom date in the back of his dad’s Suburban and believed him when he said he would “pull out”. Yeah, these types of situations basically make getting your period better than getting a pony on your 5th birthday. And that pony is actually a unicorn. That poops candy.
2. It can also be your worst enemy.
But once you have gotten past the point in your life that you stop making terrible decisions with your vagina and actually want to use it for what it was intended, getting you period is worse than, well, getting punched in the vagina. Because one little wipe of a tissue can deliver the worst possible news: you aren’t pregnant. And that you have a long 28-day wait until you can hope to not get your period again. It’s enough to make a girl want to punch a kitten.
3. It will almost always come at the worst time possible.
Preparing for your best friend’s epic birthday sleepover party? Heading for spring break so you can shake your tatas with your sorority sisters at Señor Tadpoles? Preparing to jet off with your new man for your romantic Tahitian getaway? Getting ready to don virginal white for the last time before you walk down the aisle? Not so fast, my friend. Aunt Flo may have forgotten to RSVP, but she will most definitely be attending your special event.
4. There will come a time when you need to borrow an unmentionable.
There comes a time in every girl’s life when her monthly visitor pays her a visit and she is caught with her pants around her ankles—literally. Maybe you switched purses. Maybe you forgot to buy period party favors last time you were at Target. Maybe you lent your last pad to a friend. No matter what has left you up Menstruation Creek without a tampon, you are going to have to go on a reconnaissance mission to retrieve the supplies you require.
5. It will help you bond with other women.
Whether you spill the details of springing a leak in math class, drown your menstrual sorrows in wine and pizza together during a Sex and the City marathon or dry the tears of a friend who was trying to have a baby but instead got her period, menstruation has a way of bringing women together. Periods are a bond that only we women share and only we can understand. For better or worse, they give us a common ground to laugh, cry and occasionally hurl over.
6. It’s nothing like the commercials suggest.
Maybe it’s just me, but I don't think a lot of women are flipping off diving boards or dancing around a campfire in white shorts when their period rears its ugly head. Now don’t get me wrong, we’ve come a long way from when Roman women used wool tampons in 15th century B.C., but there is still always the chance we will spring a leak at an inopportune time or discover that a string has gone rogue in our bikini bottoms.
7. One day, you will run dry.But the biggest thing that people forget to tell you about your period is that one day, it will go away. Forever. This seems like amazing news when you are 25 and curled up in bed with a heating pad, bottle of Midol and box of chocolate. But it ain’t such great news when you are looking over the edge of 40 and awaiting the dreaded hot flashes, low sex drive and…um…vaginal dryness. Because who doesn’t love a good case of flop sweats accompanied by an arid “area”?
This post was written by me and originally appeared on Healthline. Illustration by Simon Estrada