Disclaimer: This is neither a medical endorsement nor a recommendation. It is merely a personal account of why I am grateful to have discarded the center of my wombiverse.
We are expected to speak about it in hushed tones, especially among mixed company. Uttering the simple statement of “I’m menstruating”—or the detailed, “I am currently shedding the bloody lining of my womb through my vagina”—may summon the full wrath of the curse. All females are conditioned from prepubescence to speak in code when talking about the monthly sloughing of excess uterine baggage. My favorites include:
Bitchy witchy week
On the rag
Red badge of courage
Taking Carrie to the prom
To appease the sensitivities of readers who have a hard time discussing such delicate feminine matters, I will use the vernacular adopted by my friends and I when we joined the hematic sisterhood: Aunt Flo. The following are the 10 reasons I chose to renounce my membership in the menstrual sorority.
1. Barren economics: No supply = no demand: Aunt Flo insisted on luxurious accouterments when she visited: super cotton plushness delivered in a pearl case plus a scented, winged pillow on which to rest her head. Not to mention the numerous pharmaceuticals required to keep her from descending into a hysterical rage. Estimated yearly savings: $1200.
2. Embracing the whiter shade of pale: It is now possible to don white attire without apprehension. No more incidents of “exploding ketchup bottles” or “leaky pens.” The peace of mind of sitting on pallid furniture without a prior crotch check is exhilarating.
3. Be gone you tipsy temptress! My uterus preferred a more relaxed or “tipped” posture — directly resting upon my spine. Perhaps she fancied herself as Cleopatra seductively reclining on her chaise. Succumbing to her allure always came with a price. Any visit to her lair, be it for pleasure or medical exam, felt like a blunt sword repeatedly ramming my vertebrae.
4. Less is more: I can now carry petite evening bags without lamenting the fact they are unsuitable for concealing bulky cotton sausages.
5. I love N.A.! I am free from the perplexity of trying to remember the exact date of my last period when completing medical paperwork.
6. Back to our regularly scheduled program: Aunt Flo was a huge fan of frequent surprises. She couldn’t wait to see me each month and often didn’t wait more than three weeks. I felt so appreciated! (And bitchy and bloated and sore.)
7. More room in my closet: When my womb was engorged, the rest of my lady parts followed suit. The girls inflated like buoys as if to keep me afloat during the tsunami that was to come. My wardrobe consisted of looking-fine apparel, lay-off-the-cheesecake clothes, and period frocks. (Afterthought: My period pieces just moved in with my chubby garments. Maybe I don’t have as much room as I thought.)
8. Endometrial deprogramming: At seemingly random intervals, chunks of endometrial tissue would venture out of the uterine temple in their quest to evangelize the rest of my abdominal cavity. Pelvic ligaments, my bladder, and bowel were targeted converts. Each month, the devoted cult followers shared in the monthly elixir offered to their provocative leader. As they intensified in their drunken fervor, they distended and twisted, causing me to writhe in torment. A fellow endosister describes the misery perfectly.
9. Ending of nocturnal terrors: The inability to accurately predict Aunt Flo’s timing often subjected me to the horror of waking up in blood-soaked sheets. Godfather — sans the equine.
10. It’s not a tumor — Oh, wait! Yes it was: The final straw was the invasion of the uterus snatchers, aka fibroid tumors. For years, I was subjugated to their aggressive infiltration. Some would make camp for a while, then steal away as fast as they came. Others burrowed in and voraciously guzzled my monthly hormonal surge.
According to my pathology report, the largest had begun to rot from the inside. Like a piece of fruit that has been left on a tree too long, it most likely would have soon burst from the heat of decay. I threw up a little in my mouth when I heard that.
For decades, I bowed to the assumption that I was less of a woman because of my malfunctioning reproductive organs. Yes, I have been blessed with two wonderful children, but getting pregnant was clinical and far from romantic. Months of testing were initiated by the humiliating post-coital exam to determine if my vaginal canal was a “hostile environment.” (It was quite welcoming, actually.) Music and candles were replaced by the whir of a sperm washer and the glow of a lighted speculum. My husband joked frequently that he would like to be in the room when I conceived. (He wasn’t.) Eventually, fifteen months of carting his dutiful contributions to the doctor for repeated IUI treatments produced our first pregnancy.
Even after our family was complete, I bought into the stigma that I would abandon my femininity if I had a hysterectomy. Why do we feel pressured to continue to harbor an organ that has betrayed us? Much like an inflamed appendix that served no purpose except to produce debilitating pain, it had to go. It only took me 17 years to accept the notion that I was more than the sum of my procreative parts.
I am by no means a physician or medically trained. I am an ordinary woman who chose to do away with the malfunctioning menses dispenser that shackled me with agony every month. Gone are warily counting the days until the next gut-wrenching onslaught. My body, my calendar, my life has been emancipated from the commands of an estrogen-fueled, traitorous goddess. At long last, I am free.
Originally published in @HumanParts @Medium.com
Photo credit: Clinical notes on uterine surgery with special reference to the management of the sterile condition -1886 (Flikr Commons)