Welcome to Period Routines, where we spotlight a different member of the LOLA community to learn how they manage their period. We want the ins and outs of their monthly routine — how they feel, how they deal, and what they can’t live without.
Want to share your period routine? Leave a comment below.
Today, we’re sitting down with Dana Chehab, an entrepreneur and therapist. Dana tells us about the significance of her first period, and why she loves to get her nails done when she’s menstruating.
Occupation: School counselor, therapist and founder of Purifyou, an eco friendly product site
Industry: Health and Wellness
Location: Houston, TX
Children: Omar (7), Noah (3), and Asiya (2)
First Period Story
I was living in Florida and was 13 years old. It’s right around the time where girls usually get their period, so I knew about it beforehand. My mom had talked to me about it, and I was expecting it to happen.
I remember going to the bathroom, finding out I had gotten my period, and then going to my mom. I didn’t even have to say anything: she just looked at me and knew! She gave me a pad and showed me how to use it.
Getting your period is a big deal for Muslim girls. It means that you’re officially a woman, and therefore becomes a requirement to pray five times a day from that moment on.
My mom explained to me that I would be responsible for making up any prayers I missed, from that point on. Luckily my favorite practice in Islam has always been prayer, so it wasn’t hard for me to start praying on schedule five times a day.
My Period Routine
Before I turned 20, my periods were more difficult. I’d get a lot of cramps, and would be laying in bed for at least 24 hours. It was awful. I’m not entirely sure what happened — it might be because I had my first child — but the pains went away during my early 20s. I do still get them sometimes, in which case I use the usual painkillers…typically Tylenol.
I get my period once a month, at the beginning of the month. It lasts about seven to eight days. At the beginning it’s heavier and I’m having to constantly change my pad, around every two hours. Then for the remaining days my flow is normal.
I don’t really track my period, but I know it’s coming when I get that first pimple on my forehead, and when I get moody. I’ll start to get emotional — sad or angry — and cry. It feels almost like I’m pregnant again. My husband always knows when my period is coming too, based on my mood.
Besides acne and moodiness, my body will start to ache all over when I’m PMSing. And I always want more sweets.
I try to do some sort of self care when I get my period. I’ll exfoliate, use toner, and generally just pay more attention to my face and what it’s looking like during this time. I am obsessed with Aesop, so almost everything I use on my face is from that brand. One exception to that is if I have acne — then I’ll use Glossier’s acne treatment products. I love all kinds of lotions, and when I’m on my period I find myself applying it more often.
I like to take baths, and during my period I’ll use a body scrub. You know how you feel…not unclean, but heavy during your period? That extra step of being really clean makes me feel better.
I like to wear tighter high rise underwear during my period. The first couple days I’ll wear tighter pants so I feel like everything is being held in. That’s TMI, but it makes me feel more secure. I wear Free People, I love their lounge stuff.
I like to drink raspberry tea when I’m PMSing — it helps me relax and helps with any pain I may be feeling.
I only wear pads, I have never used a tampon. I wouldn’t even know how! My mom never introduced me to tampons, and I grew up in Lebanon. When I was a girl, tampons were not a thing Muslims used there at the time.
I have been switching around a lot of different brands of pads lately. I’m trying a variety of organic brands now, but the ones I’ve used so far swish around a lot and make a lot of noise. I feel like I haven’t found the perfect pad yet, to be honest. I use liners on my lighter days, and I’m still trying to find the right fit there too.
When Muslims get their period they aren’t allowed to pray (although they can still supplicate to God at any time). Blood of any type is regarded as impure in Islam, and you can’t just wash it off during your period…it’s constantly there. At first, this may sound negative, but it’s actually a blessing. The five official daily prayers are physical in nature, so it feels like a mercy to not have to participate in them when you’re not feeling your best.
Since I can’t pray during my period, I’ll paint my nails. Typically, Muslims aren’t allowed to have painted nails when they pray. Before each prayer, we do something called “Wudu”, a ritual where we wash our hands, our mouth, our face. It’s a mindful practice that gets us clean and ready to pray. Because water can’t go through the nail polish during Wudu, we can’t wear it for most of the month. So you can always tell if a Muslim woman has her period when she has her nails done! I love this part of Muslim culture, that we’re not ashamed if people know we’re on our period.
Painting my nails is something I really love to do during my period. I love having them done, so I’ll paint them as soon as I start bleeding. I use essie nail polish, and will just do them myself. Since you have to remove the nail polish as soon as your period stops, I don’t think it’s really worth the price of a professional manicure.
— As told to LOLA. Illustrations by Eugenia Mello