Never Fear: Period pain

BY TEAGAN WEBB ’19

Q: “Is it okay to get out of class for my painful period?” 

My first instinct is yes, pain is always a legitimate reason to miss class. But I understand the trepidation and that the stigma of periods often pressures people to pretend they don’t exist. There is a masculinist idea that we should always have control over our bodies, and to admit our impairment is to admit defeat. We can see examples of this in sports: Tiger Woods played 91 holes and won the 2005 US Open with a torn ACL and broken leg according to ESPN’s Bob Harig. Athletes are celebrated for playing through broken bones and torn ligaments, generating the idea that we should all strive to push past pain. Periods are different than injuries, of course, but I think when we are asked to fight through the pain, it makes a certain statement about strength and weakness. Some would argue that true equality means that everyone has the same expectations or responsibilities regardless of having a period. There is certainly a feminist school of thought which would say that admitting that periods can impair ability sets back the movement. I would argue that not acknowledging our bodies in the name of productivity can be truly dangerous. 

In the meantime, if your periods are so painful that you are missing class, you may want to discuss the pain with a doctor. I would also suggest buying a heating pad/blanket and treating yourself gently. If you are allowed to stay home from class, ask a classmate for the notes and do the readings. It’s 100 percent more productive to care for yourself. 

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