How can I deal with heavy periods?
How to Deal with Periods if You Are Blind or Visually Impaired
Dealing with menstruation (also called your period) can be an irritating and annoying process to deal with every month, but it's even more frustrating if you are blind or visually impaired. Without your sense of sight, leaks and stains are likely to happen and the whole process may leave you baffled and upset. Have no fear, however, because there are ways to cope with having your period even with your visual disability. This article will present how by mentioning different techniques, ideas, and methods to cope with your period, making the process less complex and a whole lot easier.
Signs of Your Period Coming
Notice vaginal discharge.One telltale sign that you're getting your period is coming is feeling wetness in your underwear. This is vaginal discharge, and the amount of discharge varies for everyone. The discharge will usually come in small amounts, coming out thin and odorless.You may want to consider wearing panty liners when your discharge comes to avoid spoiling your underwear.
- If the discharge comes out clumpy, resembling cottage cheese, and has a bad odor,tell your doctor at once. This could be a sign of an infection.
Feel for cramping in your lower stomach.When your period is coming, the lower part of your stomach may start cramping, which can be painful. These cramps are caused by prostaglandins, which are chemicals in your body that make the muscles of the uterus contract, causing blood to flow later on.Cramps are common before your first period starts, and they are usually a good indicator that your period will be coming.
- Cramps can be extremely painful, and you can relieve them by taking painkillers, placing a warm water bottle on your stomach, taking a warm shower, and staying physically active.
Notice changes in your emotions.Before your period, you might experiencepremenstrual syndrome, also known as PMS. This is a group of physical and emotional symptoms that occur from a few days to a week before your period, and signs of PMS can include bloating, stomachaches, headaches, migraines, depression and other mood changes such as low self-esteem, constipation, irritability, food cravings, and tiredness. You may want to rest in bed all day or find yourself being quite moody.
- Do note that not every person will have PMS before their period. Everybody is different and you may not have to worry about it.
Recognize if you've hit puberty.Before your period, you'll reach puberty, which results in different changes and growths throughout your body. You may notice yourself growing taller or hitting a growth spurt, having breast development, getting body odor, hair growth under your armpits and around your vagina, starting to weigh more, beginning to get acne, and discovering different emotional feelings.These signs are hard to spot with a visual disability, but there are ways you can tell if you've hit puberty such as measuring yourself, paying attention to your emotions, feeling your armpits to check for hair, and so forth.
- You can also ask a trusted adult or parent to know if you're getting some of these signs to ensure you have reached puberty.
Notice if your breasts start to feel tender.When your period is near, your breasts may start to feel tender and sore, like they're swollen. You may also notice and feel large, benign (noncancerous) lumps in your breasts. These will usually go away once your period starts, and will appear a week before your menstruation.
Ask questions with your other female relatives.You may still be confused whether or not the signs you have are meant to be your period coming, and that's okay. Talk to a trusted female relative about any question or concerns you may have about your body such as your mother, aunt, grandmother, older sister, or older cousin. They've been through it too, so there's no need to feel embarrassed or ashamed, and you may need some extra help to understand the signs because of your visual disability.
- If you have no female relative that you're close to, talk to your doctor or an older female friend for more assistance.
- Consider researching more about puberty for girls in health or medical websites or books. It usually will provide diagrams and pictures about the signs of your body growing, which can be useful if you need a closer look. Find books or sites that have large diagrams to suit your visual needs, or use a magnifying glass to look more carefully.
Managing Your Period
Know what type of products you'll need.Sanitary napkins (pads) are your best choice when you're just starting your first period and have a visual disability. If you're visually impaired, pads may be the best option to control your menstrual blood since they're the easiest to use. If you're a heavy bleeder, you may want to consider picking out large, thick pads, but if you're a light bleeder, period panties might work best.Pay attention to how much blood comes out; you'll feel it when you sit down, move, or use the bathroom. You'll also want to keep a pack of wet wipes to clean yourself thoroughly after using the toilet.
- Consider using thick pads the first few days of your period, but then using period panties on the last few days because of your menstrual blood decreasing.
- Try using pads that do not have wings on them, as these are less complex to use if you are blind or visually impaired.
- Once you have experience using pads, you may want consider using tampons or menstrual cups. These are more complex to use, but they last longer and can be used if you participate in sports such as swimming.
Practice ahead of time.If you're starting to notice the signs of your period coming, it doesn't hurt to practice, so you're prepared. Practicing will make it easier when your period comes so you'll know how to cope when it arrives, especially with your visual disability. You may want to adjust the bathroom to make the process easier, such as changing the lights so you can see more clearly, putting the trash bin near you, having wet wipes and pads nearby, etc.Practice using clean sanitary napkins by:
- Pulling your pants down to your knees, using your fingers to guide you by pulling them down.
- Unwrap the pad by tearing open the plastic wrapper.
- On the sanitary pad, pull the wrapping open by placing your index finger underneath it and pulling it up, allowing the tab to come up on its own.
- Unwrap the pad completely, and tear it off the wrapping (save this part for disposal).
- Take out the pad and place it in the middle part of your underwear, between the two tactile seams.
- Unfold the rest of the pad and gently stick it to your underwear. Press it down firmly so that it sticks to your underwear. Pull your underwear and pants up.
- Practice removing the pad as well by grabbing the top part of the pad, taking it off, folding it gently, and then placing it in the discarded wrapper from the pad. Ensure you throw it away in the trash bin that's next to you.
Know when your period has arrived.When your period has arrived, the odor will smell different from normal vaginal discharge and the amount will increase. When you use the bathroom, you'll feel a draft on your wet undergarment. If you're visually impaired and can see slightly, you will notice that the menstrual blood is darker than the vaginal discharge. These are all signs of your period, and you will need to change your clothing and wear a sanitary napkin immediately once you've spotted these signs.
Change your pad when it starts to feel heavy.If your pad feels very wet, sticky, damp, or heavy, it's probably full. If it feels uncomfortable, and it's been a few hours, you might want to change the pad to prevent leaks. Change your pad every two to three hours for the first few days, and every six or so hours on the last few days.
Wear comfortable clothing.You may find your period easier to cope with if you wear comfortable clothing, such as loose, cozy pants or comfortable shirts. Comfortable clothing helps make bathroom visits easier and most people with visual impairments prefer pants that are easy to pull off and on during their period.
Manage pain and cramps.Pain, such as headaches and stomach cramping, is common within periods. You may want to take painkillers such as ibuprofen to decrease the pain. It may also help to lay down with a heating pad or hot water bottle and placing it on the lower part of stomach, where you're feeling the cramps.Drinking tea, massaging yourself with essential oils, and eating foods with magnesium (such as dark chocolate) can also help lessen the pain in your cramps.
- In the UK, it is the law that all medication is labeled in Braille;however, if you can't read Braille, ask a trusted adult for help before taking medication.
Know what to expect if you've leaked.If your period is heavy or you don't change your pad often enough, you might experience a leak, when menstrual blood leaks through onto your underwear and possibly your trousers. If you feel a warm, wet feeling against your bottom, past where the pad ends, or at the front, you might have had a leak. If you aren't sure, it's best to ask a trusted adult or friend so you know what's going on, especially before you head out to public places. You can avoid leaks by changing your pad whenever it's full, and using thick, absorbent pads if necessary.
- If you're using tampons, it's better to avoid using very absorbent tampons to prevent leaks, even if your flow is heavy. If you use absorbent tampons, you'll often leave the tampon in longer, and leaving a tampon in for too long can result intoxic shock syndrome, which is a bacterial infection that can be fatal if left untreated.Use a less absorbent tampon and change your tampon more frequently, instead; it will still prevent leaks.
Keep track of your period.Whenever your period comes, mark it on a calendar. This can help you estimate when your next period will start so you can be ready for it, and prevent accidental leaks from occurring. Organize and find a calendar that suits your visual needs by:
- Choosing a calendar with jumbo letters and numbers.
- Placing a tactile mark or small strip of Velcro on the day of your period.
- Placing a pom-pom on the days of your period.
- Finding a calendar in Braille, if you can read it.
- Be aware that when you first start your period, it can be hard to estimate when your period will arrive, since the first few periods are often irregularly timed. However, as you grow older, your periods will become more regular, which makes tracking them a good idea. The average time between periods usually ranges from between 21 and 45 days for younger teens.
Find ways to relax and calm yourself.Dealing with a period can be frustrating, nerve-wracking, and just plain annoying. You may find yourself being more easily irritated and pretty anxious as well. Do activities that you find calming and relaxing, such as:
- Reading a good book
- Engaging yourself into a hobby you enjoy
- Listening to music or calming sounds such as white noise
- Drawing or doodling
- Exercising or participating in a sport
- Doing yoga
- Talking to a friend
- Cuddling with your pet
Take baths and showers daily.When you're having your period, you may want to shower and bathe more, since the warm water eases and relaxes cramps. Practicing good hygiene can also prevent unwanted bacteria caused by your menstrual blood, so showering more often is recommended.
Knowing the Emotional Aspects
Understand that every girl deals with menstruation.Periods are natural. It's your body preparing for pregnancy, even if you don't plan to have a baby. There's no shame in having your period, so if you're not feeling well, or you have no pads, don't be afraid to let someone know so they can get you what products you'll need and the support as well.
Know how to deal with your period at school.Having your period at school can be frustrating, but it's important to deal with it calmly and normally. You may worry about changing your pad in the school bathrooms, but the same routine of removing and discarding your pad is the same at school. Keep several pads in your backpack to last the whole day. You may also want to carry wet wipes to clean yourself, as well.
- Talk to your school nurse. Leaks and accidents do happen, and there may be some medical concerns. Talk to your school nurse about any concerns you may have with your period to ensure everything is okay with your body. They may also have tips to cope with your period when you have a visual disability.
- Create a period kit with a female relative so you can be prepared. When you have your period, a special kit with plenty of products such as pads, wet wipes, napkins, and an extra pair of underwear or pair of clothes can be useful if a leak happens.
- If you suffer from cramps or pain from your period, storing painkillers in your backpack might be a good idea. However, be sure your school allows this; if you think you might get in trouble for having medication with you, see if you can store it with your school nurse, instead.
Be reassured that it will get easier.After your first period, you will learn what and how your menstrual cycle feels like, and you'll most likely understand the first signs when it's about to happen. Often your gut feeling is correct, so if you feel like your period is coming soon, it probably is. Accidents and leaks may occur, but that's normal and it happens to almost everybody, even to those who are sighted. You will improve and the process will most definitely get easier, too, with some more experience and practice. It does get better; hang in there!
QuestionHow do I know if the wetness in my underwear is discharge or my period, given that I can't see?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThe odor will be different from normal vaginal discharge, and there will usually be more of it. You may also feel a draft on your wet undergarment. If you're visually impaired and have some vision, you may be able to discern that the menstrual blood is darker than vaginal discharge.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I know that my period ended when I can't see? It may appear as drops similar to any normal discharge, how can I differentiate?Katrina CallanderCommunity AnswerWhere pantyliners or small maxi pads if you're not sure. They're not big and bulky, just a thin layer so that you won't dirty your underwear if it hasn't actually ended.Thanks!
- During you period, you may want to consider wearing darker clothing (e.g black pants) in public areas in case a leak happens.
- Consider wearing underwear that has two tactile seams for easy visibility. The underwear should also be slightly loose and not too tight for comfort and ease when pulling them on and off.
- Oftentimes when a girl is on her period, she can feel the actual flow when she is using pads. This is often not the case with normal vaginal discharge. You might feel it when you stand up, sit down, sneeze, cough, run, etc. If you feel this, start wearing sanitary protection immediately in case it is your period.
- Clean yourself thoroughly after using the toilet when you're on your period by wiping yourself with wet wipes to avoid an infection.
- If you do use tampons,neverleave it in for longer than 8 hours as this can lead to TSS (toxic shock syndrome).
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