Disability and periods

So, I mentioned in a previous post that I am on a mission to stop my periods.  Why? Don’t I know all the nasty side effects of messing with your hormones?  Why yes, I do.  I also know that there is a long history of people, women especially, with disabilities being forcibly sterilised, often without their knowledge.  So I am aware that this topic is fraught with oppression, including internalised oppression, pain and illness.

But I have reached the decision that my periods need to go.  I don’t want, and can’t, ever have children so I don’t need to be careful of my fertility.  My more pressing concern is that once a month, I wake up with blood stained underwear, pjs and bedding.  My carers then have to deal with that.  And when my hands are bad, they also have to change my sanitary towels.  Which is utterly undignified.  Plus, I’m allergic to the sticky part of sanitary towels so that’s extra fun…

My carers also have to wash me and being showered by someone whilst on my period isn’t a step I’m ready for.  So at the point in the month where I am probably most in need of washing, I don’t.

So, an attempt to cling onto my last dregs of dignity is why I am trying, and currently failing, to stop my periods.  So far I tried the coil which didn’t even make it inside me, I’ve tried several different types of pill which all contain lactose so I’m dealing with the side effects of that (I’m lactose intolerant and even teeny amounts make my tummy unhappy) and I’m currently having more periods than I did before I started.  I’m aware that the pill can often cause irregular bleeding to start with and my doctor wants me to give it three months… I’m six weeks in and have had three long bleeds…  One thing to note is that the pill I’m on, Cerezette, is tiny.  I can’t actually pick it up so my carers have to drop it into my mouth.  Not a great option if you have hand issues and have no one to help.

Other options for stopping your period include the implant and the injection but according to my GP, the coil, followed by the pill are most effective at stopping your periods.  Plus, once the injection is injected, that’s it…  If you only want to delay your period, there is a tablet out there which can do it for about 20 days I think, Norethisterone.  I took it when I went to rural Ghana at 19 but again, it didn’t work for me… My periods are pretty persistent… Even at my lowest weight with anorexia, I only had three period free months… BTW, anorexia is a bad method for stopping your periods!

If you are disabled and want to keep your period but find tampons and sanitary towels hard to use and would prefer a more suitable option in terms of menstruation products then you’re in luck.  I read a fantastic post by crippledscholar which opened my eyes to some of the alternatives.  I’d highly recommend reading the post and reading through the comments.

There are lots of kinds of menstrual cups out there and they can be used one handedly apparently.  There are also period pants which I didn’t know about which are expensive but look like a good option provided you can wash them by hand.  Another option is reusable sanitary towels, you can get different kinds of fasteners so can try and find what’s easiest for you.  Again though,  you’ll need to have a way of washing the blood out before chucking them in the washing machine.

Side note: I came across a photo project whilst I was looking into whether there were any other menstrual products available (I couldn’t find any others, please let me know if you have).  It was a photo a day of the cervix as it goes through a monthly cycle.  I found it interesting and wanted to make you aware of it.

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