Monday, July 13, 2015

Heavy Menstruation

Warning: Discussion of menstruation

Dear people who menstruate,

You know how the side of the tampon box has this little chart of absorbencies listed in helpful units like grams and ml, and how it's not helpful or useful in any way because those numbers mean nothing to you? Here's what they should put on there instead:

Seek medical help before your next scheduled exam if you experience... [v]aginal bleeding so heavy it soaks at least one pad or tampon an hour for more than a few hours.
Mayo Clinic
It absolutely boggles my mind that in all the books and talks on menstruation and puberty, this was not mentioned once*. Everyone was so focused on assuring the pre-teens that what they were experiencing was normal, that nobody bothered to tell us what isn't normal. As a result, there are many people struggling with heavy periods that limit their daily lives or cause medical problems, thinking that that's just a normal part of living with a uterus. That's garbage, so here's a list of things that indicate abnormally heavy menstrual flow (menorrhagia), lifted wholsale from the Mayo Clinic:
  • Soaking through one or more sanitary pads or tampons every hour for several consecutive hours
  • Needing to use double sanitary protection to control your menstrual flow
  • Needing to wake up to change sanitary protection during the night
  • Bleeding for longer than a week
  • Passing blood clots with menstrual flow for more than one day**
  • Restricting daily activities due to heavy menstrual flow
  • Symptoms of anemia, such as tiredness, fatigue or shortness of breath 
When to see a doctor
Seek medical help before your next scheduled exam if you experience:
  • Vaginal bleeding so heavy it soaks at least one pad or tampon an hour for more than a few hours
  • Bleeding between periods or irregular vaginal bleeding
  • Any vaginal bleeding after menopause 
So that's my little PSA on heavy menstruation. I'll leave you with an additional resource, and the thought that "heavy menstruation" would make for an interesting band name.

* Since writing this I have been informed that it was included in at least one of my books, but I guess it didn't make an impact at the time since I hadn't actually started menstruating.

** Everyday Health lists blood clots as a symptom unless they're smaller than the size of a quarter.

Pronouns Musing

When everyone switched their pronouns, I installed a subroutine in my brain* that shouts over everything else to provide the correct pronoun. This installation has been fairly successful. Now whenever I think about Hats or Flowers in a way that suggests a pronoun, the subroutine swoops in and, like a poorly altered memory in Harry Potter, fogs over whatever I might have been about to think and booms out "SHE" or "THEY" over top. It's effective, but it's very much a surface adjustment. It's taking while longer for the change to percolate down through the layers of my brain and become a normally integrated part of it.

I also have to import the new genders into different locations. I can think about Hats as female most of the time, but if we go somewhere and do something we haven't since she started transitioning, I find my thoughts defaulting back to the old version of her and I have to 'import' the new version to that place/situation.

Another thing that makes new pronouns hard is when everyone else gets them wrong. I was doing great with Flowers' 'they', but then I went up for a visit and all over the place there were people calling them 'she'. It's so much harder to stick with the correct pronouns when I keep hearing other people using the old ones.

Hats is now out to everyone, but for a while I was playing the pronoun game, where I tried to never have to use a pronoun to refer to her. It was surprisingly easy once I got going. I always thought it would be terribly difficult to avoid pronouns.

*I am not a robot, but I frequently find it helpful to describe myself as though I am one. This is one of the great benefits of studying computer science: It gives you a bunch of cool ways of thinking about how you think.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Gender bias

Click to make big
I keep catching myself having dumb thoughts like this and then being really surprised and displeased to find that I have in fact not managed to avoid internalizing the sexism/heteronormativity/etc. in the world. I did know that on some level (it's kind of unavoidable), but it's never been so clear to me how deeply embedded my gender thought-biases are. But now I know they're in there, and I can hunt them down and poke them sharply and tell them to shape up.