Period Peace: Happily Saying Good-bye to an Old "Friend"
I’ll never forget the first time I saw Doctor Zhivago, because that was the day I got my first period. Other women hear “Lara’s Theme” and think “undying romance.” I think, “Help! I’m bleeding to death!”
I never did figure out the plot; I was too busy running to the bathroom every other minute to make sure I was still okay. Mom had given me an informative talk about what to expect. But was I emotionally prepared for the jolt of suddenly, out of the blue, discovering it was actually happening?
I was 12. Now I’m 56. My period served its purpose — 22 years ago, I successfully gave birth. This year my “baby” graduated college. I couldn’t be happier about the fact that my monthly “friend” has finally taken a hike.
Some women dread menopause because it symbolizes the end of their sexy, exciting youth. Not me — I was thrilled to toss my tampons and say “Sayonara!” to excruciating menstrual cramps.
I’m not saying my period never brought me moments of joy. I’ll never forget the thrill of finally getting that three-week-late period when I was in law school. I’d just begun to get my life on track. I wasn’t ready to be a mother. When I got that period, my heart soared.
And one of the happiest moments of my life came when, years later, after months of trying, the little stick turned pink. I was going to be a mom!
Neither of these unforgettable Menstrual Moments quite compares with the time my friend Deb returned home to find her living room strewn with unused tampons. Her sons happily announced they’d discovered her cool supply of “pretend hand grenades“ and had spent the morning crouched behind the sofa, ripping them open, yanking them from their cardboard holders, then hurling them over the sofa, shouting, “KABOOM!”
As Mom told me solemnly when I was 12, after handing me a gigantic box of sanitary napkins and showing me the garter belt that would hold them in place (this was the pre-tampon era), “It’s all part of the miracle of being a woman.”
“You’ve got to be kidding,” was my response. Even then I recognized that monthly periods weren’t so much a miracle as a ludicrously inefficient Rube Goldberg contraption for keeping the human race going.
Sure, there’s something appealing about the way those monthly cycles gave structure to my life, and once they vanished, my days did have a certain sameness. At times I even miss those familiar patterns.
But do I actually miss bleeding every month? Are you kidding me?
When menopause arrived, I didn’t feel as if my youth had ended. I felt like I was reclaiming the person I was when I was 12. I sat down to watch that movie and my whole life changed.
And now it’s changed again.
I couldn’t be happier.
This essay previously appeared on
and is reprinted with permission from the author. Roz Warren is a humor writer whose work appears in The Funny Times, The Christian Science Monitor, The Utne Reader and Beatniks from Space.