First Person Periods

First Person Periods: Sarah

2 min read

I was 18 when it happened. My periods had been really heavy since I’d first started a few years previously, and they weren’t very easy to judge. Looking back I probably wasn’t buying the right stuff or changing it regularly enough – there was a lot of leakage.

I remember I was on my period and I’d put a tampon in when I first woke up in the morning. A few hours later I took it out and changed it for a new one, and then the same again later, as usual.

It wasn’t until it started to smell that I realised something was wrong. I was at work, and I thought, “What the hell is going on?” I didn’t know what was wrong with me – I thought I must have some sort of infection.

It wasn’t until it started to smell that I realised something was wrong

I went to the doctor but instead of examining me, they gave me a swab to do on my own in the toilet. When I got home afterwards I felt really upset, so I talked to my mum about it. She said, “Are you really, really sure you haven’t left a tampon in?” I was like, “Of course I haven’t!” I went and checked anyway – and that’s when I realised what had happened.

All that time, there’d been another tampon still in. When I’d put in a new one that morning, I must have forgotten to take out the one from the night before. By then it had been in for a couple of days. I didn’t even realise you could put two tampons in and not feel it, but it had gone really far up, so there was no string hanging down. And then because I’d put another one in, it had squished the other one so far up, I didn’t even know it was there.

I was so paranoid after that – I just thought, I don’t want to use these any more

When I finally pulled it out, it was an abomination.

I was so paranoid about losing a tampon after that – I just thought, I don’t want to use these any more. I used to feel that tampons made my periods worse anyway. When I’m feeling all swollen and uncomfortable, I don’t want to put something inside me.

The only time I ever use them now is on holiday if I want to go swimming. But even then, I don’t like it. I remember once I was in Thailand and I thought I’d forgotten to change my tampon again. I had to get my boyfriend to give me some sort of examination – I was hysterical. He was saying, “You haven’t, you haven’t done it”, but I was so paranoid about it, it just wasn’t worth the stress.

I’m in my late thirties now and I’m still worried I’ll forget a tampon, so I just use pads instead. I like the fact that you know where you stand with them.

This is the latest article in our series about what it’s really like to have periods. If you’d like to share your experiences with us, get in touch at jelphick@calla.ly. Illustration by Louise Zergaeng Pomeroy.
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Currents is a place where interested people with periods come to get the real lowdown on menstruation and bodies. We explain the things nobody else does, normalising every experience of periods no matter how weird it might feel. We’ll leave you informed, unashamed and ready to expect more for yourself.

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