23 things we wish we knew before we got our periods

Do you remember the first time you got your period? Was it in 7th grade gym class, when you were least expecting it and stranded out in the soccer field away from all the pads and tampons and anything else you could possibly MacGuyver into a period resource? Was it during summer camp? Did you have to confide in your counselor and ask her how to use a tampon because there was no way you were not going swimming the rest of the week?

We bet no matter where and when you got your period, you were probably a little freaked out. There’s blood coming out of your body! It shows no sign of relent! Your abdomen hurts like hell! And then, there are other nuanced problems that show up along the way, problems you learn to deal with, problems that still mystify you (hey, bodies are weird). Here are some of those period struggles we all wish we knew about before we actually had to suffer through them.

1. All (or most) underwear will inevitably become period underwear.

2. Accidents happen. You will probably bleed on your nice white sheets.

3. Dish soap and really cold water is the best way to get out period stains. Trust.

4. Syncing up with other women you work with or are friends with is a real thing and it’s very weird, but very cool.

5. More than just blood comes out. If you wear a pad you will feel it. It will freak you out and catch you off guard.

6. You will probably mess up the first time you use a menstrual cup.

7. You should never apologize for PMS. Anyone who uses this as an insult is a jerk.

8. Those digestive issues? That’s not just you. A lot of us have pooping problems during the week of our period. It’s totally normal.

9. You’ll have days that are too light for a tampon and too heavy for a panty liner.

10. Yes, it can hurt (a little bit) when using a tampon if you don’t have a flow going.

11. But using some lube in this case is totally helpful.

12. Tampons can be intimidating, and it’s OK to hold off on wearing them (or choosing not to wear them at all!).

13. It’s almost impossible to go #2 with a tampon in. You’re going to have to take that sucker out.

14. Your period can sometimes ghost you — it disappears for one day and you think you’re in the clear, but it comes back the next day with a mighty vengeance.

15. Irregularity happens, especially the first few years after you first get your period — but sometimes after that, too. You can see your OBGYN and talk about ways to alleviate this issue.

16.Sometimes it’s just hard to prepare yourself. Like when you randomly get a really heavy flow t night and wake up in the morning realizing you definitely should have used a super absorbency tampon.

17. Cramps can hurt. A lot. May we recommend a Midol and a heating pad? (And don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor if you’re in major pain.)

18. Your brain might feel foggy for a couple days before your period and during. It happens.

19. Other parts of your body feel different when you’re on your period. Like, your boobs might get sore. Your head might hurt. Your back might ache in ways it’s never ached.

20. The bloating. It sucks.

21. You might forget whether you inserted a tampon in or not, and you will panic, and thoughts of Toxic Shock Syndrome will start floating around in your head (but just relax — check what’s going on down there, you’re probably just fine).

22. At the end and the beginning, the blood is really, really dark and scary-looking.

23. You may have to explain to your lady friend why her chair now has some period blood on it. And they will understand, and they will still love you. Because we are all in this thing together.

(Images via iStock, Giphy)