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Bleeding. - helen-louise
Today I found myself having a SURPRISE PERIOD. At the age of 33, with a fairly regular menstrual cycle, I should know what the hell my body is doing at any given moment... right?

Except that I used to have, or technically still have, premenstrual dysphoric disorder. I would always know when my period was due because a week to 10 days beforehand, my breasts would swell up into enormous, painful balloons; my belly would become a hard, tight drum; and my legs and back would start aching. I'd start feeling irritable, and this would get worse over the next few days until I'd go completely fucking batshit on day 23 out of 28. Psychotic thoughts, depersonalisation, and intense self-hatred. Eventually that mood would "burst", and from day 25 to 28 I'd be back to the irritable while crying uncontrollably at any minor provocation. And I would get ridiculously clumsy, to the point of non-deliberate yet dangerous self-injury.

Now I am on carbamazepine, a mood stabiliser. 500 mg. The mood changes barely happen at all - I suppose I may get a little more irritable or easily provoked or tearful, but it's nothing - a few minutes, maybe. My breasts do swell up, but not until 3 days before my period is due. I get clumsy, but only as much as I do when tired or "glandy". My back hurts and my legs feel sore, but no more than from fatigue or overuse. I don't know why the mood stabiliser should help reduce the physical symptoms as well as the emotional ones, but it seems to be a real effect. I could hypothesise that carbamazepine is also smoothing out hormone levels as well as neurotransmitters (it's known to stop many contraceptive pills working), but I don't know enough about the biochemistry to come up with a plausible mechanism. It's sorta on my "things to do when I have more time" list, along with other much-postponed items like writing FAQs for games which few other people care about.

So until I get more organised about keeping records of these things, I'll keep getting "surprise" periods. At least I have some hippy disposable sanitary towels in my desk drawer at college now.

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From: kshandra Date: 18th March 2010 05:40 (UTC) (Link)
At least I have some hippy disposable sanitary towels in my desk drawer at college now.

If they're Nature Womancare, I shall both laugh hysterically and cheer - that's the same company who makes the diapers we sell, and we're hoping to eventually start carrying the femprods as well.
baratron From: baratron Date: 18th March 2010 16:25 (UTC) (Link)
No... I was going to say you can't get Nature Womencare products here, but apparently Ocado (the online version of a large supermarket chain) sell them. The hippy shops have Natracare instead.
From: kshandra Date: 18th March 2010 16:54 (UTC) (Link)
I would have been quite surprised indeed if you'd said they weren't available there, seeing as NATY is based out of Sweden originally. And I'll spare you the "compostable vs. biodegradable" argument. ;-)
baratron From: baratron Date: 18th March 2010 19:46 (UTC) (Link)
Well, I usually use washable menstrual pads in any case. Disposables are just for emergencies :)

I'm intrigued by the compostable vs biodegradable argument - do tell! My first thought is that women's menstrual pads would work well as a component of compost because the blood is a rich source of protein, but I also know that paper rots a lot more slowly than you might think considering it starts off as wood pulp.

The arguments are different for menstrual pads and babies' nappies in any case. It's really not at all unhygienic to rinse my pads out with cold water twice a day until I have enough of them to chuck in the wash with my normal laundry. I'm not sure that I'd be happy doing the same thing with poo. And once you start introducing disinfectant, I think that there isn't too much difference between washable and ecological (unbleached, plastic-free) disposables.
From: kshandra Date: 18th March 2010 20:05 (UTC) (Link)
Well, here's the default answer we give regarding soiled diapers and compost:

Human waste should not be put into in residential compost-piles due to the risk of contamination from pathogens such as E.coli bacteria. In addition raw, un-composted manure of any kind must never be used as a fertilizer on food crops. However, in commercial composting facilities, thermophilic (hot) composting takes place at temperatures that are high enough to destroy all harmful bacteria. The facility we work with uses Aerated Static Pile (ASP) composting, keeping the piles at a temperature of 140°F or higher for 14 weeks. These operations are closely regulated by the state of California and by the US Environmental Protection Agency to ensure that the finished compost is free of pathogens and safe for use.


Products marketed as biodegradable, rather than compostable, are designed to break down over a period of 12-24 months. So while biodegradable products are better than anything petroleum-based, they're still not going to break completely down and will need to be screened out of the finished compost.

Regarding washable products, the thinking is that, since the compost pile generates its own heat, the overall energy cost is less than throwing (cloth nappies/reusable menstrual pads/FITB) into the wash. It does admittedly get kind of nebulous at that point.
tirnoney From: tirnoney Date: 18th March 2010 07:19 (UTC) (Link)
Carbamaezpine is a liver enzyme inducer and consequently increases the metabolism of several drugs and oestrogens.
baratron From: baratron Date: 18th March 2010 16:21 (UTC) (Link)
Well, yes - it's a cytochrome P450 inducer, so affects a massive number of drugs from a variety of drug classes. The "possible interactions" list in the patient leaflet is a mile long. I understand that if you're putting artificial hormones into the body whilst taking carbamazepine, they'll be metabolised more quickly and you'll end up with a lower level than you were expecting. But how does it affect hormone metabolism when you're only using natural hormones? Can't the body simply make more?
ailbhe From: ailbhe Date: 18th March 2010 10:40 (UTC) (Link)
My auntie had such mild period symptoms that she was *always* surprised the day they started, because she never got the hang of keeping records; while she lived at home her sisters kept records for her!
treacle_well From: treacle_well Date: 18th March 2010 12:33 (UTC) (Link)
For a long time I never had any warning symptoms that I recognized as such. But at some point (in my 30s I think) I either started noticing or getting one little before symptom--the "gee my calves feel tight, but surely the walking I did yesterday wouldn't have caused that..." feeling. After that I started realizing that when I started feeling an otherwise unexplainable yen to stretch my calf muscles, menstrual blood would make its way to the outside world in an hour or so.

Edited at 2010-03-18 12:33 (UTC)
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