My periods seem to have taken a leave of absence these past two months. It’s like my uterus went into a lockdown as well, along with the entire nation. For the past two years, I had managed to keep them on track without any medications, simply with regular exercise and some lifestyle changes. But the change in lifestyle and stress of the pandemic seem to have found their way to the delicate balance that I had managed to sustain and wreak a havoc on it. So as if the lockdown wasn’t a difficult ordeal on its own, I have to endure it with my messed up hormones, gasping and heaving every time a new cramp hits me. Might as well start dancing in my balcony, singing a 90s song about waiting for the beloved to show up, despite being late.
Being overweight for most of my teen life, the experience with irregular periods is nothing new for me. I have drained bottles of M2 Tone by the crates. I have endured multiple sessions of sitting across my gynaec to get an earful for not exercising regularly . Finally in my mid-twenties, I got them on track and let us say the ship sailed smoothly for coming few years, through marriage and motherhood. Then two years ago it all went south. My periods got delayed for two months straight and when they finally arrived, they refused to leave. I spent a month in and out of a local gynaecologist’s clinic and when I finally got then back on track I resolved to commit to better health.
I shed some weight, I cut down on unhealthy eating. I even got my mental health issues sorted. But then came coronavirus and in last two months, it feels like we are back to where we started.
It is not like I didn’t invest time in self care under the lockdown. I tried to exercise at home, walking 10,000 steps daily but you cannot gain enough speed that will make it count as proper workout, with Legos and furniture strewn across your walking zone. The added stress of the situation could have also made the matters worse. Though right now it feels like there is a little that one can do.
I have consulted with a gynaec who has put me on a medication which will speed things up. But ingesting hormonal pills three time a day at the peak of summer is not fun. It has reminded me why I didn’t enjoy the first three months of my pregnancy, with constant nausea and hot flushes that couldn’t be cured even by air conditioning or sitting in a deep freezer I suspect (not that I tried). The situation right now is such that anyone who switches of the fan in the room gets a death stare from me so bad, it could scorch their bones. And to hell with eating healthy, I polished off three Cornetto icecream cones last week because that is all I can eat without gagging.
The cramps, the doused hopes everyday when you realise you are not “down yet, the constant restlessness, along with this uncontrollable urge to snap and have a full fledged melt down any given day now, is basically what being on. Irregular Periods under lockdown looks like. Waiting, worrying, waiting. Repeat.
I know this is nowhere close to the agony and ordeal that many are enduring under lockdown. At least I could get hold of a gynaec, and use my own knowledge to try and sort the issue on my own. At least I have more ice cream in the refrigerator to pacify myself. At least I have a family that doesn’t expect me to deal with the physically taxing household chores in such a situation. I am better off than most, but it does make me wonder about the women who are not.
I know I am not the only one experiencing period trouble during lockdown. But how many women can openly discuss menstruation in their homes? How many have access to healthcare, for consultations and check ups? How many have a support system in place at home which is making irregular periods under the lockdown not as taxing an ordeal as it is?
Once the lockdown is over, and we sit down to think about what all we could have done better to ease the sufferings of people, on many levels during the pandemic, I hope a part of conversation also focuses on how we could have handled menstrual health concerns among women better. Thousands of women in the village of Jonha, Jharkhand have to use leaves and husk as absorbents during periods in the lockdown. They have no access to pads and menstrual cups. Women have to weigh the risk of visiting a gynaec for menstrual health issues right now, and endure l bleeding that won’t stop, debilitating cramps that lead to so much discomfort, and worst of all, the stigma around periods, that is still so prevalent in our country keeps women and girls from opening up about menstrual issues, before it becomes unbearable to do so.
That’s not how periods should be. Lockdown or not.