#013–Question for the Ladies: How the hell can anyone exercise with a “heavy flow”?

(NOTE: There’s a lot of info in this one, and lots of links…because there’s a load of issues to go with it…and some corrections made–at noon–because an old draft saved when my connection cut off the first time–ugh…)

The past few months online have been a revelation for me as a woman, because I’ve seen honest dialogue about women’s issues begin and squeamishness start to pass. Guess it’s time to throw my hat in the ring and go searching for the answers I need from women who work and live and think differently.

My mom doesn’t exercise–her job’s always been about movement, so these questions don’t work well with her because she’s never really had the same issues, at least, none that would be helpful to me. She’s never been overweight or had a job that relies on her sitting on her butt getting things done. Movement, movement, movement–that’s her. I’m the opposite. I can walk and think, but it’s hard to walk and write at the same time.

I have to ask, because of the vast world out there, how the hell one exercises with a heavy flow? It’s not the cramping; I might only get bad cramps once every six months, and then I just roll with it.

It’s not the bloating because with the tire around my middle and lousy diet, I’m used to bloating. Now, I’m trying to improve that by saving money for good food and not cheap processed crap, reading my recipe books, and cleaning out my fridge for said good ingredients.

It’s not really the frequent trips to the bathroom, or the acne that comes out and re-arranges my face here and there.

It’s the blood, the flow, especially in the first three days.

I’ll admit, I’m horrible at remembering to write down and plan my cycles. I just somehow never seem to keep a good account of when my bleeding was and how long it lasted. I don’t even think about it, and when I do, the chance has long gone and I’d have to guesstimate (most likely wrongly).

I need a system–at least I have the presence of mind to ALWAYS keep pads and tampons in my purse, computer bag, and locker at work. The time of day is never the same for the start, either.

I did just hear of a site, though, called mymonthlycycles.com. Maybe I’ll give something like that a whirl, or come up with a new plan I can keep up with that’s not so…hackable, I’m sure.

So, that’s one strike against me there. I just have a bad memory. I can’t even remember to take my multivitamins every day more than two or three days at a time, or remember to keep a routine to put on makeup. I’m flighty and do things on a whim, forgetting my to-do lists and amount of time I really need to spend on things. My planner’s got so much white out correction tape on it I’m surprised the pages aren’t stuck together.

And, of course, there’s no guarantee I’ll remember to bring my planner with me everywhere to write things down. Hell, I tend to leave my purse in the car and take my cash with me, so putting a pocket calendar in there hasn’t helped.

That’s what really makes things difficult; making plans, but not recognizing my “crimson tide” is approaching, cripples me. It’s the blood that makes it worse every time.

I don’t think I can say I’m ashamed of my vagina (phew, there I said it!), it’s more I’m unfamiliar and somewhat creeped out by it (…okay, yeah, what’s the difference?). Well, I know it’s natural, and I’m a woman so it’s just part of the cycle of my life…a very bloody, icky cycle of my life. I’m working on self-education there, and maybe some workout education will help.

Why it’s so debilitating is that I need exercise. I need to drop this horrible, excessive, debilitating weight I’ve been carrying around for more than 20 years. I need to be healthy, so my knees aren’t horrible and I can defend myself, and when I have kids I need to be a healthy example for them.

And the heavy flow comes to make me apprehensive. All my plans are dropped. I don’t seclude myself, but I worry about too much movement.

It’s become the story of my life. I get pumped to do exercise and do right for myself (cue the “Rocky” theme) then suddenly I’m sick or the period hits, and my good intentions and motivation sink like rocks dropped in the river. I’m so afraid of my heavy flow that I don’t do anything strenuous. Gravity is a harsh mistress, after all, and when I get moving around on those heavy days…oooh.


Thanks, Tick…it feels about like that, too…

I mean, I’ll stand up after sitting a bit, or even just wake up in the morning and it’s like, “Hello, dear, Aunt Flo’s here to entertain you!” and somewhere in my belly a faucet’s been turned on and I just feel this rush. Sometimes it doesn’t wait for me to be fully awake and move (in which case, I’m rushing to the commode and grumbling about having to take another shower and do more laundry). And then I’ll work on something, have to squat or reach for something, and that faucet comes on again.

So, when the flow does that for two-or-three days (and I’m never sure exactly WHEN), how the hell can I do martial arts practice? I’m taking kickboxing and jiu jitsu now, and those white hakamas and gi are all I’ve got for mat practice (they don’t have darker colors, but allow them, and I have to save up to buy ’em). All those squats, throws, and sudden movements will make the flow go nuts! Time to make friends with female sparring partners, I guess, and more BJJ blogs.


How did the Amazons deal with this shit during THEIR warrior training?

Now, I am a bit of a squeamish person, mostly because of profound ignorance. I live with my dad (who at the mention of “girl stuff” suddenly shuts down, unless it’s political debate about abortion–really). My sister-friend lives across the country and can only help me long distance, but does have good info I can take with me sometimes.

The difficulty is trying to do something about living my life and keeping the flow clean. I’ve done some intense reading lately, trying to find more (since I didn’t feel I could go work out like this), and discovered that yes, I can work out. It would probably be very helpful in the long run…just go slow and be careful if I’m all that concerned.

crs-bjj-005-300x199My concern is the mats. I spent a lot of money I can ill afford to on self-defense classes and enjoy what little I’ve been able to do so far, I can’t keep myself out of action 1/4 to 1/3 of the time because of my period (and the weekends they’re closed). I paid too much and I need this too much.

No, what’s got me creeped out is wearing white hakamas while doing all these squatting and lying moves. Tampons don’t completely stem the flow, and pads (when the faucet’s running) don’t absorb fast enough to prevent a mess.

Now, several jiu-jitsu bloggers have mentioned there’re ways around this. For one, if there’s a spot starting to show on the hakamas, then let the person know discreetly and let them excuse themselves. People will understand, especially if you tell your sparring partner a little, say something like “girl issues” (I guess). One site also mentioned some new absorbing panties called THINX that I’m gonna research more on and probably drop coin on out of desperation. Wish I’d heard of them sooner.

So okay, no biggie there. I’m worried when the faucet turns into a burst pipe.

That happened to me once in public, and that was enough. I was in high school, and one of my friends made me laugh really hard, unexpectedly. I swear, it felt like an explosion, and it’s not like I’d been trying to hold it in and it wouldn’t anymore–It just came out, and soaked right through my jeans in seconds.

I sat at my desk, paralyzed and red-faced, and a friend went to the bathroom to get wet paper towels for me to clean the seat I was on, and my locker to get my coat to tie around my waist. There was one more class period to go, I didn’t have a ride home, the nurse was gone, and I had to stay. That coat never moved. I’d lost so much blood so fast I thought I was going to bleed out.

It was years before I could tell that story and laugh about it. But after that day, I got very paranoid and restricted my activities on heavy flow days.

One thing most of these exercise sites have in common that’s really making me apprehensive is they’re gushing about using the menstrual cup. Well, this is where my profound ignorance of myself and my anatomy paralyzes me.

Because I’m a 30-something virgin, and all these “what-ifs” are going through my head.


Fairly accurate rendition of my “Uh, okay…heh heh…um.” face.

Seriously, I see so many ladies recommending the cup, and I’m breaking into sweats. They even have tips for virgins using the cup, which I suppose could help. But it took me long enough to get the guts to use tampons and not worry about them, and now these things? Nobody I know uses the cups (and if they did, I’d have no idea how to ask), I know nothing about them, and can’t imagine it staying in place very well to do its job.

I have a hard enough time going to the OB-GYN (she was a lot harsher on my last visit and it was pretty damn uncomfortable). And now, I swear I can sometimes feel tampons move if I get too active with the lower-body exercises. I don’t know where to start on the info, but I don’t want to stay a paralyzed wreck, unable to get the guts to go exercise and do right for myself.

Had I been thinking beyond my paranoia, I might’ve at least gotten up to do some light recumbent biking and upper body strength training, anything to do something (and the beauty of the gym is the bathrooms aren’t far away from me!) But even doing light things, I’m paralyzed. It’s not helping me in the long run.

Anyway, ladies, I’ve probably made you think, giggle, squirm, and freak out in turns enough for now. I don’t know where to start. I’ve rarely been “one of the girls,” and now I kinda need to because I’m getting fed up with the guys I know. Time to make new friends all around.

Its weird how things for me now: I used to always be the the younger person in a group. Now I’m one of the older ones, and though we girls stick together pretty well in one of my jobs (the boys have this whole boys club thing going on their end anyway), I don’t feel comfortable talking with sexually-active high schoolers and early 20-somethings about women’s issues. More than that, I feel like a fucking idiot.

So, anybody been in the same boat (or still are)? Any help would be great. In the meantime, I’m gonna see what else I can dig up today online and find my extra pair of gym shoes in my car.

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