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 talking to LaTonya Yvette, a stylist, writer and lifestyle blogger. LaTonya tells us about her no-shower rule, switching from tampons to pads, and the importance of taking mental health days.
Occupation: Stylist, writer, author of Woman of Color
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Children: River (age 9), and Oak (age 5)
First Period Story
I got my period when I was 11, which was considered young back then. Everybody else I knew was getting theirs around 14. I’ve since learned it was brought on by stress, and my life circumstances at the time.
I remember I went to the bathroom and immediately started screaming…seriously freaking out! I thought I was dying. My mom heard me and came running. In hindsight, she was clearly freaked out too, but she handled it well in the moment. She gave me a pad and told me it was normal and that everything was going to be ok. My period went away for 2 years after that first time.
My Period Routine
My period has been late most of my life. I would say I have a 30 day cycle, but it depends on how much I’m exercising, what I’m eating…I’ve noticed these types of factors have a definite impact. When it’s late, it’s usually around 5 days off.
My flow though, is consistent: it lasts for four days. It’s heavy on the first day, and I’ve noticed in the last two years that I bleed in spurts. On my heavy day, a lot of blood will come out all at once, particularly when I’m relaxed. After that first day my flow evens out, and by the third day it’s spotting. On the fourth day it’s extremely light, and I’m only wearing a pad just in case.
I always have a headache the day before. I also always have cramps. When I was a teenager I had awful cramps…like, lying-on-the-floor-crying bad. They got better when I had my kids, actually. There was, I’d say, a 10 year period where I was either pregnant, or breastfeeding, or raising young children. During that time, when I did get my period, it was always pretty uneventful and I didn’t have the symptoms I had pre-children. Now that my kids are older, I’ve noticed those symptoms have come back, though nowhere near as bad as they were when I was younger.
Mental Health Days
The day before and first day of my period, I feel like every issue that I’m having with a friend or anyone else in my life comes to a head. It’s like, “Ok, it’s all on the table now.” I don’t like feeling on edge like that, and I’ve realized I don’t feel on edge if I don’t have to communicate with people during those 2 days. I work for myself, so I’m able to take this time to cater to my needs.
I treat it like a 48-hour mental health break. I’ll stay in and work from home. I’ll stay off the phone if I can, and won’t text people back as frequently. Of course, I still talk to my kids, but I’ll avoid interacting with other people during those days, as much as possible. It’s my time.
One thing that I learned from my mom when I was young, is that you never take a shower the first day of your period. It’ll make you feel worse. I have never questioned that rule! I also don’t wash my hair during my period, or get it done. I don’t even wet it, which may be a cultural thing.
I do a lot of dance cardio and pilates. I work out at home quite often and use a platform called obé. My period was late again last month and I swear it was because of all the dancing I was doing. I do feel lethargic for the first two days of my period, so I will not work out then. I do not push myself to do anything besides just breathing. I meditate every day and use Headspace, which is really helpful during my period when I’m feeling more sensitive.I’ve struggled with anemia for a good part of my life (especially during pregnancy). During my period I take Floradix, a liquid iron supplement, which I highly recommend. It’s helped with my anemia, and with headaches and cramps. Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron, so I also take Vitamin C capsules, and drink warm water with lemon.
I make sure to moisturize during my period. I don’t have a specific brand that I swear by, but right now I’m using Burt’s Bees Baby Oil because that’s what I bought for my kids.
Switching to Pads
Because I had years where I was having children, I naturally lost touch with my period. I made the switch to pads so that I could see my flow. It’s really helped me manage it, and it also seems to have made my period shorter (not sure how).
I’m paying more attention to my flow in general now. Keeping track of what I’m eating and drinking, and how my day-to-day affects my period. I feel like I have a much closer connection with my body, as a result. Being able to say “Oh, my period is probably late because I have been exercising a lot.” is such a big deal. It really is all connected.
I always have to pee a lot during my period, and I’ve noticed that when I’m on the toilet, my period will really tend to flow. So I’ll take longer bathroom breaks when I have the time, and let my body do what it needs to do.
— as told to LOLA. Illustrations by Eugenia Mello.