Taboo or Not Taboo?

It’s strange that these days subjects that were once taboo are acceptable for discussion (sexual preference, sex, disease, toilet habits, mental health) but it’s still unacceptable to talk about pms and periods. I wrote a blog post a few weeks ago which mentioned monthlies and for some reason felt it was necessary to put a disclaimer to that effect at the start of the post. This post got significantly less views and comments than any of my other posts.

It go me to wondering why we are so ashamed to talk about something which is as natural as breathing, eating or having a baby. It’s part of the majority of women’s lives and yet we won’t talk about it. Thankfully I have a great group of like-minded friends who don’t mind chatting about pms and giving advice or sharing hormonal woes. But why do we shun discussions like this. Even a lot of my friends have alternative words for them so they don’t say the actual name when mentioning them. Thankfully I live with an open-minded man who has no issues talking about women’s issues – good for me since I struggle hard every month.

I have a hate/hate relationship with my menstrual cycle. I hate it and equally it hates me. It wasn’t until I was googling ‘running on your period’ the other day that I realised that it’s written about so little. Incidentally people write about sports bras until they’re blue in the boobs but you never see discussions about the correct pants to wear when running either (this was recently remedied by Leah at Naturally Leah) – but I digress.

I planned a long run on Saturday and much to my annoyance found I’d had a visitor in the night. But I’d planned the run so decided to go ahead anyway. The weather being as it was we went to the gym and I began pounding the treadmill, but I started off with a nice jog and decided to run at 10k pace and keep it easy. I stopped after 20 minutes because I thought I was going to faint. I was overly hot, my back ached and my stomach hurt. It was so defeating having to stop because of a normal monthly occurrence – and at 30 I should be used to dealing with this.

The thing is I’ve been struggling with meds over the last 6 months, trying different pills and it’s messing with my hormones and as such my cycle. Since I’ve only been running 9 months I’m a novice at dealing with it when it comes. And it likes to arrive on important race days too – wonderful.

They say a little light exercise can help with cramps, but what of the mood changes? Running’s tough. You need your mind and motivation and not to give up. But PMS ruins this. It makes you want to stay at home in your sweat pants, nursing your swollen stomach and sore boobs eating chocolate and trying not to sob at toilet roll commercials. It makes you want to give up when you’d normally carry on and it takes away most of your positive thinking. It makes you harder on yourself when you can’t do what you set out to do and fools you into thinking you won’t do any better next time. Well it does for me. It makes me hot, fed up, dehydrated and dizzy and generally impossible.

So I’m struggling and hoping that going forward, once a month, this won’t be a normal occurrence. And I hope that going forward people won’t be afraid to talk about these things as much. A bit of research and I dug out a few blogs about the science behind how menstruation effects running performance and they made me feel a little better. Things about estrogen levels on certain days – it also mentioned on the 2nd or 3rd day of your cycle you might get a burst of energy which can make you feel like you can run forever. I tested that this morning and I felt better than Saturday and didn’t want to pass out, but wasn’t overwhelmed by unrelenting energy.

I feel a bit bitter towards men not having these issues. They can run, swim, bike etc whenever they like, but us girls have to plan months ahead when signing up for races or taking a holiday, so they know what they’re going to have to deal with. I’ve often joked that I’d opt for a hysterectomy if you could so I wouldn’t have to deal with it. Who knows – if I run enough they might just stop altogether. Here’s hoping!

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4 thoughts on “Taboo or Not Taboo?

  1. Have you thought about iron tablets? I have PCOS and as a result have very messed up periods, they’ve never been regular and are often very heavy, which leaves me very tired and drained just getting up and going to work in the morning. I find if I take iron tablets just before (if I ever get a warning it’s coming, sometimes I can tell when I want to kill everyone more than usual and cry a lot!) and during, it does wonders for my energy levels. Also lots of iron rich foods. I don’t run so don’t know if it will help, but might be worth looking in to?

    1. Oh yes that might help! Which brand do you take and how regularly? I did feel like it might be an iron think when I had my funny turn on Saturday. I’ve just started a new pill so am hoping that will sort it, but iron pills might be the way to go if not. Do they improve your mood too?

      1. I go for boots own brand iron + vit c (vit c helps the body absorb more iron so they go well together). The packet says 1 a day but I was taking 2 a day while I was on my period because it was so heavy – I was so tired I was falling asleep at my desk at one point! I didn’t notice any mood differences but I don’t normally get that bad PMS, mostly just slightly more irritable than usual.

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