Autism and periods
Yep, I am writing a blog post about being autistic and having your period. Periods are a hush hush topic that most people deal with quietly and don’t bring attention to. Which is why people don’t often think about the challenges that having your period poses for autistic people.
I will split the challenges into the sensory side of physically having your period, and the emotional hormonal side that comes with a menstrual cycle.
I wear the same thing every day. I am touch averse. I am hypersensitive to anything touching me. So, you can imagine that when once a month things feel very different, it is hard.
The hardest part of periods when I was younger was wearing a pad for a week a month. It would feel the same as wearing shorts for one week a month and jeans the rest. It took me a few days to adjust to it and then a few days to adjust not having it after.
So, I wear one every day. I wear a pad every single day because it gives me consistency. It isn’t something I talk about openly and is something I was very embarrassed about when I got with my partner (she of course doesn’t care!).
My showering routine is different when I am on my period. My toilet routine is different when I am on my period. For a week every month things are different. Of course, there is consistency in it being every month, which provides some ease. The downside is if you are not regular (I’m not) then it is hard to plan for that shift to another routine.
I use an app to try and track my period so I know roughly when it is going to happen, but it will only give me a window. So that is hard. A sudden change once a month to a different routine.
The other side of having periods is the hormonal ups and downs it brings.
I know I am roughly due to have my period and joked with my partner that I was hungry last night. My body doesn’t generally get hunger signals very well, so it is always a sign of my incoming period when I get the urge to eat everything in the house!
Later that evening I had a bad meltdown. It was horrible. I very much fell into the waves of meltdown as it took over me. I scraped at my ear back and forth and cried uncontrollably on my partner as the meltdown did its thing.
I was tired. I had had a long day that included a phone call. There were factors that I may have normally struggled with but not to the extent of what happened. Normally I may have cried it through and tensed my hands. But this was a lot more than that.
As it ended, I knew it had been in part triggered by being due on. The hormonal ups and downs of my period definitely affect my autistic behaviours. Where the average person may snap or be moody, I have bigger autistic meltdowns.
If you kept a diary of my meltdowns and my periods, I know they tie up. I know I almost always have a meltdown in the days before my period. That’s not to say I don’t have them at other times, I do. But the hormonal affect of being due on definitely increases the odds of having one and makes them worse. This is something I have only realised in the last few months with the help of my partner. I had never put the two together before, because I have never seen them spoken about together.
It’s hard as an autistic person to feel that hormonal rollercoaster. To snap at something you wouldn’t normally, and not understand it. To feel off and up tight and want a release. I think my meltdown is what releases that tension that others push through. I can’t just be with it. It’s like it adds onto all my other challenges and pushes me into meltdown.
Autistic people have periods. And they are tough for us on many levels. They are a challenge we face like any other.
Just writing this blog was incredibly liberating. I have never spoken about the relationship between autism and periods. I remember being so ashamed to tell my partner I wore a pad every day and having to tell her why. I remember feeling silly when I realised that my period made my autistic periods harder. These things need talking about. It needs support put in place. It needs patience and understanding like any other hurdle we face.
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