Tampons Have An Expiration Date & Other Things You NEED To Know About Your Period

Getting your period is a coming of age experience, and once it happens, you realize that you were not at all prepared for the reality of this monthly week of hell. Here are the things no one told you about your period:

  1. Surprise—tampons have an expiration date. We all know food expiration dates are no joke, but other items like condoms, medicine and yes, even tampons have them too, and they’re more than just suggestions. When used past their date, these items will a) not be as effective and b) could even harm your body. Think about it—if a piece of cotton has been sitting in a box collecting dust for years, do you really want to put it inside you?
  2. Regularity is that thing everyone wants but (almost) nobody gets. The Mayo Clinic says that anything from a 7 day period once a month to spotting less frequently can be considered “normal”, but the truth is that for most of us, we’ll never know when this sucker is gonna show up or peace out. Some birth control pills can help mediate flow and keep you on a fairly consistent schedule, but outside of medically-induced routines, your period will change basically every single time. In a perfect world, you could always wear those white pants on day three, have a quickie on day four, and know that on one, you’ll feel like you’re in the innermost circle of hell. Unfortunately, real life isn’t a Judy Blume book and your period might keep you guessing, even years later.
  3. There are benefits of getting your period but we don’t care. Apparently, there are some health benefits to this monthly hell, but if you ask us, they pale in comparison to the downsides. Some argue that they enjoy getting their monthly visitor because it’s confirmation that all the sex they’re having isn’t resulting in pregnancy. I can kind of get behind that theory for a few minutes, but there are many other ways to make sure you don’t have a kid before you’re ready, like using (and trusting) your birth control and looking out for other symptoms of pregnancy. Personally, I can know I’m not with child without a week of agonizing cramps and mood swings.
  4. PMS is a real thing, according to science. No, the fact that you turn into the worst kind of monster every month isn’t all in your head. It doesn’t matter how even-tempered and pleasant you on normally—when mother nature strikes, you’ll find yourself saying, doing and thinking things that you’d never otherwise consider. But it’s okay, you can totally blame the hormones rushing through your body. It’s all their fault, anyway.
  5. Cramps can’t kill you, but it sure feels like they will. There is nothing in the world worse than killer cramps that feel like someone stabbed you in the stomach and then twisted the knife. Doctors even say that the pain from cramps compares to having a heart attack, which proves we’re not over-exaggerating!! Next time someone gives you grief for complaining, slap them with the studies and shut them up for good.
  6. If you use the wrong size tampon or pad, you’ll leak and you’ll want to die. The only thing more horrifying than the pain is the fact that your period couldn’t care less where you are, what you’re doing, or what you’re wearing. If it wants to get out and all over your clothes, it will, and there is nothing more embarrassing. Word to the wise—invest in some designated period undies. You’ll need them.
  7. Bad periods can affect your productivity in the workplace. According to research on working women and menstrual cycles, the change in hormones doesn’t just affect moods, cramping, and lethargy, it also impacts performance. Add in the societal pressure to keep period talk under wraps (how many of us have sneaked a tampon in the sleeve of our jacket to go to the restroom?) and it’s a wonder we get anything done at all during that week. You obviously can’t use PTO time every month, but if you’re feeling that bad, you might want to stay home.
  8. Wanting to eat everything in sight is normal. It doesn’t matter how big your breakfast was or whether or not you took seconds, your stomach is a never-ending pit during your period. Cravings for sweets, carbs, and chocolatey goodness are constant, and the worst thing you can do is be super restrictive and judge yourself. You’re dealing with a rough week, you deserve that cookie—just ask Women’s Health Magazine!
  9. No BS, getting yourself off helps with cramps. If you decide not to get it on with your guy or you don’t have one, here’s a pro tip: orgasms are considerably good at reducing pain and cramping, according to many doctors. I know it doesn’t sound like the best idea when you feel like a beached whale, but if you can get in the mood, turn the lights down and give yourself some quiet time with your hand. Your uterus will thank you later.
  10. You’ll spend more on tampons, pads and Midol in your life than you will on anything else. Thanks to the tampon tax (one of the biggest modern day flukes in our society), this thing is EXPENSIVE but it’s also necessary, both for comfort and for health reasons. My best advice is to never ever sit down and add up what you spend/will spend in your lifetime on feminine products like Huffington post did in this article—it will depress you beyond belief.
  11. One day it will stop, but the “fun” doesn’t. During your worst periods it’s normal to think “ugh only X more years of this and then I’m done!” As much as the end of your monthly visitor may sound appealing, menopause is a beastly bitch of its own. Between the hot flashes, the night sweats and (more) mood swings, you may find yourself wishing you were 25 again by the time you get there. Great.
We only have one chance to live this life and I'm making the most of it. I'll make plenty of mistakes along the way but each one will send me further down the right path.