CAUGHT OUT BY THE CRAMPS
Probably the worst thing to have to cope with at school is the sudden onset of the cramps. Most girls try to stay at home on really off days, providing they can predict when those will be. The trouble is, periods aren’t always predictable, especially when they first start. So there may be times when you are at school and the pain catches you out. If you have been practising relaxation and breathing, you’ll need somewhere quiet to lie down and cope. That’s easier said than done because so many school buildings, even new ones, aren’t equipped with rest rooms, beds and hot water bottles. I know one brand new school where girls who faint are laid out in the general office, with the office staff stepping over their bodies until they come round.
So what to do about it? I should start by finding yourself an ally on the staff — a housemistress perhaps, or a year head, or your form tutor or a subject teacher — somebody you like and know you can trust, who is sympathetic and knows how tricky period pain can be. Explain what you have been doing and see if she (or he) can help you. Don’t forget, lots of the women who teach suffer from period pain themselves. So most of them will be sympathetic and if they can help you, they will.
If you start your period with a fainting fit, it’s good sense to check whether you’re eating enough. If you haven’t had any breakfast, you are far more likely to faint during assembly or the first lesson. A lot of girls go without breakfast; in some schools it’s almost a crime to admit to swallowing anything more substantial than a cup of black coffee. The secret is to listen to your body. If you really need food, it will tell you. If you faint because you’re hungry, just the smell of that bacon sizzling will make your mouth water. You should go ahead and enjoy it. On the other hand, if you are one of those unlucky girls who start their periods by feeling sick and then fainting, you have a different problem. You certainly wouldn’t want to eat anything and it would be very silly to force yourself. You are probably better staying at home until the sickness and the feeling of faintness have passed and you can return to normal and go back to school again.