Questions for Reflection
Each episode we offer you a few prompts to think about how that day's conversation applies to you. You might pause the podcast and answer them right then and there, but if you keep a journal (Steph and Beth both do), you might find one of these PDFs useful. Choose the orientation that fits best in your journal.
Beth Demme (00:03):
Welcome to the Discovering Our Scars Podcast,
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:06):
Where we have honest conversations about things that make us different. I'm Steph.
Beth Demme (00:09):
And I'm Beth.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:10):
I've been in recovery for 14 years and I'm the author of Discovering My Scars, my memoir about my mental health struggles, experiences, and faith.
Beth Demme (00:17):
I'm a lawyer, turned pastor, who's all about self-awareness and emotional health because I know what it's like to have neither of those things.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:24):
Beth and I have been friends for years and have gone through a recovery program together. And when I wanted to start a podcast, she was the only name that came to mind as cohost.
Beth Demme (00:31):
I didn't hesitate to say yes because I've learned a lot from honest conversations with Steph over the years.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:36):
We value honest conversations and we hope you do too.
Beth Demme (00:39):
That's why we do this! And why we want you to be part of what we are discussing today. And on today's show, we're going to have an honest conversation titled "Period dot." And our special guest is my daughter, Hannah. Woo.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:57):
Then we will invite you to reflect on the conversation in your own life with Questions for Reflection.
Beth Demme (01:02):
And the show will close with a slice of life. And if you wonder what that is, stay tuned till the end.
Beth Demme (01:06):
So, we're going to talk today about--
Stephanie Kostopoulos (01:09):
Beth Demme (01:12):
Yeah. I just want to say off the bat, this was not my idea.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (01:16):
It was my idea. And then how did you rope Hannah in? She wanted to, right?
Beth Demme (01:20):
Well, I noticed that Hannah is much more comfortable talking about her period than I am and that she and her friends talk about it, which is not something that I do with my friends. It's not something that we have ever discussed. It made me realize, "Oh yeah, we do handle this differently. And maybe she handles it better." I thought, you had mentioned that you wanted to have this as a topic--
Stephanie Kostopoulos (01:41):
And you rolled your eyes.
Beth Demme (01:42):
And I rolled my eyes. And I thought, "Why would we talk about that? That's not something we talk about." And you're like, "That's the point. That's why we're doing a podcast is to talk about the things that people don't talk about." And I think originally we talked about a title on something like, something no one talks about, but every other person gets it or something like that.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (01:58):
Every other person gets them.
Beth Demme (01:59):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (01:59):
And you were like, "That's technically not correct." And I was like, "That's not what titles are about."
Beth Demme (02:06):
Why don't we each share--
Stephanie Kostopoulos (02:08):
Beth rolled her eyes! You can't see it, but she rolled her eyes!
Beth Demme (02:12):
Maybe you can hear it in my voice. Let's each share the story about the first time we got our period.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (02:17):
Before we get started, Beth, though, I do want to say this is an important conversation. And it's something that we as women don't necessarily talk about. And that's, I think, a big part of why we want Hannah here because maybe women aren't talking about it now, which is awesome, which is what I want to know more about. I do want to point out we have three generations here.
Beth Demme (02:33):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (02:34):
That's pretty cool. We have a millennial, I'm in the middle actually.
Beth Demme (02:38):
I'm Gen X. I'm the oldest.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (02:41):
Yeah. I'm a Millennial.
Beth Demme (02:43):
You're a Millennial. And Hannah, you're how old?
Beth Demme (02:45):
Which makes you part of Gen Z. So X for me, Y for Steph, although she refuses to acknowledge that. She just wants to be called a Millennial, which is such a Millennial thing to do. And Z. XYZ. Let's go youngest to oldest. Hannah, tell us about the very first time that you ever got your period.
The first time I got my period I was with my mom at a Wednesday night group with teenagers. But I was too young for the group. So I just sat there. And I went to the bathroom and it happened. And I was wearing jeans. And I run out to my mom and I'm like, "I just got my period." I think she was more freaked out than I was. I was just telling her what happened and she's like, "Oh, no. No, no, no. We don't have anything for this. Just stay comfortable. And we'll go to the store after this." And I'm like, "Mom, it's fine. I have jeans on. It's not going to be much to clean up."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (03:42):
Did you leave right away?
Beth Demme (03:45):
I don't think so because she said it wasn't heavy and that she had made some accommodations and that it was going to be okay, but you were quite young, you were 10 and a half, which is young. It was like, it wasn't on our radar. And I had had an ablation, so I wasn't having my cycle, so I didn't have any supplies. It was like, "Oh, this is out of nowhere and I'm not prepared." I think we had talked about it some...
Well, we did talk about it before it happened, but like-
Beth Demme (04:14):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (04:16):
How often had you been talking about it? When did you start talking about the fact that you get a period? Do you remember?
I don't remember what age, but I know it was maybe a year before that.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (04:26):
Beth Demme (04:26):
Yeah. We were doing the American Girl Doll books, all about body. Probably we started that when you were about eight, when you were around third grade, because third graders stink and third graders need deodorant. And it was a time to have a conversation about all of this is natural and normal, and this is how we accommodate it, and this is what we do.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (04:51):
Had you already been developing? Were you wearing bras or anything like that yet?
I actually started wearing while I was really young. How old was I when I felt I had like...
Beth Demme (05:02):
Yeah, that's a great question. I don't remember. But it was young. You were an early bloomer.
Beth Demme (05:07):
That's how we always describe it. She's an early bloomer. You're adopted, so we don't know if that's part of family genetics or if you ate too many non-organic chicken tenders, we just don't know. We don't know.
I never ate the bread around them, no.
Beth Demme (05:23):
It's true. It's true. You would peel off the breading, the best part and you would just eat the chicken. It's true.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (05:29):
You had talked about it with your mom. Had you talked about in school? Was that part of a conversation yet?
No, I was in a private school, so we never really had that kind of conversation. But I was definitely the first person in my friend group to start it.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (05:43):
What was the feeling of when you started and then when you realized your friends weren't there yet?
I felt left out in a way because I was going through something. And I remember I got home, that night, I just cried because my mom was like, "Yeah, you're going to have to deal with this for the rest of your life."
Beth Demme (06:01):
Okay. That was funny. [inaudible 00:06:03].
Stephanie Kostopoulos (06:03):
Is it funny? It seems real mean by the way.
Beth Demme (06:08):
This is so funny. [Laughing]
Beth Demme (06:09):
Okay. She said, "How long is this going to last?" And I was just thinking about how, "Oh, well, you'll be getting your period until you go through menopause, which is decades from now." And I was like, "Well, it's going to feel like it lasts forever." She meant, "How long is this cycle going to last? How long am I going to be dealing with this mess?" But I didn't realize that. When I said forever, she started to cry and I was like, "Oh, wait, no. I realized now what you meant. We were thinking two different things."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (06:34):
Every 28 days ish.
Beth Demme (06:36):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (06:37):
Oh, wow. Yeah. That would be traumatizing. Oh, my gosh.
Yeah, I know. I freaked out.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (06:42):
Oh my gosh. And I laughed. Sorry.
I don't remember you laughing. It's fine.
Beth Demme (06:48):
I'm sure I've traumatized you in many other ways.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (06:51):
Yeah. We'll have her on for another episode about all that.
Beth Demme (06:53):
All right. What about you Steph? What about the first time you got your period?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (06:57):
Pretty close the same age. I was 11 when I started. What we always said, what we always assumed why I started so soon was because I was overweight, even though no one told me I was overweight and I never thought I was overweight, which was fine. It wasn't a big deal, but that's why we thought I started probably younger than my other friends because of that. I ate a lot of chicken from McDonald's, so I don't know if that has to do with it. Maybe we just found a connection--
Beth Demme (07:21):
—the hormones in the chicken--
Stephanie Kostopoulos (07:21):
Maybe that's what it is. Actually. No, I had burgers. So still probably hormones though. My parents, my mom had talked about it for a long time. She'd been telling me about it and I knew what to expect, even though it's still very scary. You're just like, "Wait, I just started bleeding and just... What? Bleeding is bad." That's what we're told. If you're bleeding, you need to do something about it. Something's wrong.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (07:45):
And it's like, your brain has to be like, "Wait, this bleeding is good and it's okay. And it's part of normal life, but all other bleeding is bad." I don't remember exactly where I was when I got my period. I think probably at home because it wasn't as memorable as yours, but yeah, I started my cycle and early on, my mom had been saying she knows it's a tough kind of life thing in our lives. But she made it exciting. She said, "When you start your cycle, you become a woman and you can get your ears pierced." That's what she said because she was very concerned. My mom always is concerned about these things. But she was very concerned about me getting my ears pierced too young.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (08:27):
And she wanted it to be done by medical professionals. She didn't want me to go to Claire's, all this stuff. She was like, "When you are a woman, you can get your ears pierced." And I was like, "Okay. Well, that's exciting." So for me it was like this exciting thing that I got when I got my period. And she also was like, "When you get your period, you can tell your dad about it. Talk to your dad about it. There's no shame in this. This is very natural." And she encouraged me when I got my period to talk to him and to tell him. And I don't know if she had prepped him as well. Like, "Don't be weird when she tells you. It's just normal."
Beth Demme (09:02):
For sure. For sure she prepped him. For sure.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (09:05):
And I did tell him and he... I don't remember exactly what he said, but I just remember it was never a secretive thing. And it was never a shameful thing. It was like, this is just normal, natural. And I would tell him. I wouldn't have long in-depth conversation because it's my dad. We didn't really do that anyway. But it was always like, there was never shame with it, which I was really glad because there's no shame in it. It's very natural. And I got my ears pierced.
Beth Demme (09:33):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (09:33):
Yes. And we got them at... a registered nurse did it. And it was at a jewelry place where... it wasn't Claire's. How about you Beth? You're the one that wants to share the most, I can tell.
Beth Demme (09:44):
Oh, yeah. I don't really have a story. I was at home. I was like 12 or 13. I knew what was happening, but not because I had talked to my parents about it. I just knew somehow. I think I had read Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume. I had read that in elementary school. And I was in—my elementary school went through sixth grade—I think I was in, I think it was the end of my sixth grade year because I think it was before I went to middle school. But I also remember that that year, another girl in my class, a girl named Audra, got her period at lunch and she was wearing white pants.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (10:23):
Oh, my gosh.
Beth Demme (10:23):
It was like the worst possible thing. And none of the rest of us had gotten our period. And the whole school had lunch at the same time. It was a really small school, but we all had lunch at the same time. And I remember the boys teasing her about it. And when it happened, it seemed to me like, "Oh, this is something private." I let my mom know, and she gave me supplies and that was it.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (10:42):
So your parents really never talked... or your mom never really talked to you about it?
Beth Demme (10:46):
No, I don't ever remember talking about it.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (10:48):
And leading up to it, you don't remember really talking about it?
Beth Demme (10:51):
No, I don't.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (10:52):
Did you talk about it in school?
Beth Demme (10:54):
We had the thing where they separated the boys and the girls and we went into two different classrooms. And I remember that after that I asked my friend, Tim, I said, "What did y'all talk about?" And he was like, "We mainly just talked about y'all and what happens with your bodies." And I was like, "You did? That's what we talked about. Why did they have us in separate rooms then if we were just going to have the same conversation?"
Stephanie Kostopoulos (11:18):
There was probably some laughing in the boys room that would have been not appropriate in the girls room.
Beth Demme (11:22):
Yeah, maybe so. Well, they all understood what was happening that day in the cafeteria, because there had been this lesson on it in school, but yeah.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (11:29):
Well, we had this similar thing in fifth grade when I got my period, we had a similar conversation where they separated the genders and they gave us a pad. A little bag of things we've got a pad, and maybe a tampon, and some pamphlets, I'm pretty sure.
Beth Demme (11:46):
It's like when you go to an event, you get a swag bag.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (11:49):
The worst swag bag ever! And it was like the generic pad, gigantic--
Beth Demme (11:55):
As thick as it could be? Yeah.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (11:57):
Speaking of Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, I have that book right here.
Beth Demme (12:02):
That's so incredible you were able to find your actual copy.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (12:05):
I have my actual copy and it is from 1986. Oh my gosh. I'm pretty sure they've reissued probably something a little bit more current. But this is a good book.
Beth Demme (12:15):
It is a good book. We'll definitely have to put a link to that in the show notes. And that's not a book that you ever read though, is it Hannah?
I never read that book. No.
Beth Demme (12:21):
I bet you would like it. I mean, it might be a little I'm young for you now, but it was almost like a rite of passage in elementary school, around a third or fourth grade... fourth or fifth grade, maybe to read that book. And I remember checking it out from the library and how, at that time, you could see everybody who had checked it out. There was a card.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (12:41):
All the girls.
Beth Demme (12:41):
It was all the girls who checked it out, yeah.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (12:44):
I'm not a reader. I don't read a lot. That is also why I kept this book because I barely ever read a lot of stuff when I was a kid because I've dyslexia. We have that in common. But I do remember reading this and I've read it multiple times. I kind of want to read it again, even though it's like, I don't need it, but I'm good on this. But it was okay. It's a good book.
Beth Demme (13:05):
It might be interesting to reread it and to see how it strikes you as an adult as compared to how it landed with you when you were a kid.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (13:12):
Beth Demme (13:13):
That might be interesting.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (13:14):
And I think it was important to read because we didn't really talk about periods. I did with my mom. And I think this book probably sparked that conversation as well. I don't know if she brought it up, or if I brought it up, or how that conversation went, but the book really made me feel comfortable to have that conversation and not feel weird about it. Because that's what the book's about. It's like, I guess Margaret talking to her mom, because that's the picture on the front, but then there's God in there somewhere, too, because that's in the title. I don't remember how it goes.
Beth Demme (13:42):
I think it's like Margaret's not getting her period. And she's talking to God about it, if I remember.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (13:48):
I think so. Yeah.
Beth Demme (13:49):
Hannah, is this something that you and your friends just talk about, just have conversations about? Your cycle, your period?
Well, whenever I first got my period, I told my friend Emma at the time, like, "Yeah, I just started it." And she's like, "Really? I don't have that yet." And I'm like-
Beth Demme (14:06):
And she was older than you. She was like a year older.
She was older than me. Yeah, she was a year older than me and she didn't have it. And it was weird, but she would always ask questions about it because she wants to know and she wants to be prepared and everything. But now, me and my best friend, Carmen, we'd try to see if it's linked up or whatever because we're both on birth control because of the crazy cycle and everything. So we try to time it at the right time. Or if we forget, then we'll have like a week later. It's not something that we just try to hide from each other. We also talk to each other about our mood swings and we just prepare each other and like, "Oh, yeah, no. I'm going to have horrible cramps today. Just prepare." It's not something that we're just like, "Yeah, no, yeah. I'm on my period." But no, we just straight up say. And it's...
Beth Demme (14:56):
Yeah. I think that's how I knew that it was different for you than for me, because you just very nonchalantly said something to me about one of your friends being on her period. I was like, "I don't need to know that. Why are you telling me that? That's such personal information." And you were like, "What? It's not personal. It's like saying she's got blue eyes. This is just something that happens." And I was like, "Oh, okay, this is my issue. Got it."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (15:22):
I think that's really interesting that you guys, well, you can literally sync up because you could plan the pills. But I think that's so great though that you guys can talk about that. Because when I was in middle school, probably just maybe like a year or two after I started my cycle, I went on birth control pills because I had really bad periods. I was very shameful about being on birth control. I very much didn't want to talk about it. I didn't talk about it with my friends. And I was embarrassed because I was so young and on a pill called birth control, which is not what I was using it for in any sense. I was using it for my periods, but I had so much shame with being on thesm.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (15:59):
And just like, I remember I had to go on a trip years later and if you took medication, you had to go have the nurse give it to you. And it was this big thing. And I was just so shameful that I was on birth control. I felt like people were judging me that I was on birth control. And I was like, "I just wish there was a different title for the pill." Because it's so helpful for periods. It's so important. And for regulation, emotions and hormones, but I just felt so much shame with it. It's so awesome that you have a friend that's also on it that you can talk about it with and you don't have to have that shame and have that. Hopefully that's changing, hopefully more people are on it. And it's just a widely accepted thing.
The only person I don't really talk about my period with is my dad and my brother. I told my mom whenever I first got it for her to tell him so I wouldn't have to, because I always think that's a little weird because he doesn't have it and he doesn't really understand it. And that's just weird to talk about with a guy. But with my girl, best friends, it's like it's normal, but for a guy it's weird.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (16:59):
Do you think guys need to understand it?
I think eventually they will because they'll marry into it.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (17:05):
Do you think like your husband one day that you will talk to him about your period?
Beth Demme (17:09):
Yeah. I think you will do. It is part of... It is something that I talk to your dad about because it's part of my reproductive health. And so, because it's a health issue, I could talk to him about it. I will say that, Hannah, your dad has worked hard to be the kind of dad who doesn't create any body shame. And that that is something he's had to be really intentional about. As we enter a bathing suit season, this is always a conversation, because he'll say to me when you're not around, it's just he and I, he'll say like, "Hannah is so beautiful and I don't want to say anything that will make her self-conscious. I want her to fully live into her womanhood. But also at the same time, I'm her dad and couldn't she just wear a muumuu?" But he tries really hard not to say those kinds of things to you because he knows that your body is amazing and that there isn't anything to be ashamed about.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (18:13):
It's probably good that he filters that through you, because if it needs to happen, you can be that voice of reason if the conversation needs to happen about something.
Beth Demme (18:24):
When the shorts are too short, I'm the one who says, "Hey, why don't you try another pair."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (18:28):
And you probably can take that from your mom really easily. You're like, "Okay mom."
Yeah. I give her attitude. But--
Stephanie Kostopoulos (18:34):
Yeah. Which you should you're 16! You should give her attitude!
Beth Demme (18:37):
No, you should not. You should not give me any attitudes.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (18:39):
No, she should. I'm going to should on her. She said she's 16! The fact that your daughter is willing to be on your podcast and talk about periods, you're raising a pretty good girl there.
Beth Demme (18:49):
I will say she's a pretty great human.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (18:51):
Beth Demme (18:51):
Pretty proud of her.
I'm not arguing.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (18:55):
And you shouldn't.
Beth Demme (18:57):
What about that fear of like what happened to my elementary school friend, Audra? That fear of getting it unexpectedly and being unprepared. Because the very first time you got your period, Hannah, we were unprepared. Maybe it's different now because—also on the birth control thing, maybe we should call it period control. I guess you can be more prepared. It's less likely to happen unexpectedly.
It's not such of a shock anymore, but it's still, you have to be prepared for every single day just in case if it happens because it could happen anytime of the day.
Beth Demme (19:34):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (19:34):
This is sounding terrifying: "It can happen time of the day! Anywhere! To anyone (that's a female)!"
Beth Demme (19:40):
When you least expect it.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (19:43):
Oh my gosh. What a good movie: Period.
Beth Demme (19:48):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (19:52):
And we're writing the script tomorrow, done.
Beth Demme (19:54):
I think when you recently got a car that was a birthday gift for you because you just turned 16. And I think one of the first things you put in it were period supplies, right?
Yes. I put in tampons, an extra pair of underwear, and Advil, just in case of cramps.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (20:10):
Wow. That's so cool. It's like a period survival kit.
Beth Demme (20:13):
I love that. It's another way that she reminds me of you, Steph. She likes to be prepared.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (20:18):
I love that.
Beth Demme (20:19):
She likes to have lists. She likes to be prepared. She likes to have her supplies organized. Excellent.
Yeah. It used to be in your car and then I got my own. You're like, "Just get this out of here."
Beth Demme (20:29):
I have no use for these things.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (20:30):
Yes. Come on, encourage her. Goodness. Wow. We'll work on you Beth.
Beth Demme (20:37):
Do you keep supplies around?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (20:38):
I will tell you I was on birth control for years. Got off of it for years, then got back on it for years. And it's been a little over a year that I've been completely off of it. And now I have the fun joy of, periods whenever hey—.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (20:58):
It's no 28 days. It could be 24 days, it could be 27, or it could be 30 days. It's whenever, which is awesome and super exciting. I've been off the pill for over a year and it's gotten better. I am having more pain than I was on the pill, which is not fun, but take an Advil and it's fine. But my periods are really light. That's something that I've noticed. They're really light. It's almost like, do I need a tampon? Do I not? So something I just bought, which should be here very soon, I can't give any review on them because I haven't used them is, I bought period panties. Have you heard of those?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (21:39):
They seem so silly. When I first saw ads, I was like, "Oh my gosh, what is this? This is ridiculous." But because my periods are so light, I was like, "Maybe I should just use those." I bought three pairs. I will let you know how they do.
Beth Demme (21:53):
What's the concept? Is there something in them that is removable?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (21:56):
Beth Demme (21:57):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (21:57):
You wash them, which sounds really gross that you're washing bloody panties.
Beth Demme (22:02):
Well, people do cloth diapers.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (22:04):
I know which is gross, which is gross. I'm just going into it, trying it out. The idea is that they all hold a different amount. Some can hold like two tampons worth. The ones I got was like one and a half tampons worth. It just absorbs. I don't know what's in it. I don't know exactly. I saw a YouTube video about it. And they look interesting. So I'm like, "Okay, let me try them out." I've gotten those, we'll see how they go. How long has it been since you've had a period actually, Beth?
Beth Demme (22:38):
Oh, I think it's been... Well, I had an endometrial ablation where they burn out the lining of your uterus. I had that in 2008 because I was having a lot of problems. I was having extremely painful periods. I'd have to go to bed bad. The cramps would be so bad on my legs, and really heavy. And I went to my gynecologist and he was like--
Stephanie Kostopoulos (23:03):
We'll burn that right out.
Beth Demme (23:04):
Yeah. He was like, "Are you going to have any kids?" And I was like, "Nope, never been pregnant, never plan to be pregnant, went all over the world have had the two best kids, snagged them up and brought them home." He was like, "Well, why don't we just remove the lining of your uterus and then you don't ever have to have a period again?" And I said, "Great, let's do that." So we did.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (23:25):
Was it painful?
Beth Demme (23:27):
No. It's a surgical procedure, so you're under anesthesia. And they said it would take three days to recover, but it didn't even take me a day. I was fine.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (23:37):
Do they do that? I've never heard of that. Is that something they do often?
Beth Demme (23:42):
All the time.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (23:43):
Can anyone get that?
Beth Demme (23:44):
No. Well, you would have to be sure that you were done childbearing because it does remove your reproductive ability in that way. And I remember Dr. Clements saying that I was his 33rd ablation. I was patient number 33. And now he's done hundreds of them.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (24:00):
Why would people get an IUD instead of the burning thing?
Beth Demme (24:03):
Well, you still have to be on birth control after you have an ablation because your ovaries are still producing eggs. It would still, I guess, be possible to get pregnant, but you couldn't maintain a pregnancy.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (24:15):
Beth Demme (24:17):
It doesn't eliminate the need for birth control, if you're using the pill for that.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (24:21):
Okay. Well that makes sense. Okay.
Beth Demme (24:23):
I haven't had a cycle since 2008. But then, I don't know if you guys know this, but I had cancer-
Stephanie Kostopoulos (24:31):
Reference our second or third episode.
Beth Demme (24:33):
Yeah, one of our early episodes. I had ovarian cancer. Then in 2018 I had a complete hysterectomy. I don't have to worry about anything anymore except menopause.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (24:46):
Which we'll talk about. My question, the reason I wanted to know is because my question is pads or tampons (when you did have them)?
Beth Demme (24:59):
Right. I only ever used pads and-
Stephanie Kostopoulos (25:02):
Ever? The whole time?
Beth Demme (25:04):
I think I tried once or twice to use a tampon, and I'm just going to tell you-all, I couldn't figure it out. I couldn't figure it out.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (25:10):
Really? So your whole time you were pads?
Beth Demme (25:13):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (25:14):
Beth Demme (25:16):
The summer after Hannah... she started in December and then that next summer she went to something that I know you would remember, well, Love At Work. She was on this youth group thing where they would go to the next county and they would do some house repairs. And that is when you switched from being a pad wearer to being a tampon wearer.
Yes. I remember my friend, Hannah, I know it's confusing, but I wanted to go swimming really, really, really bad. And you can't do that with a pad. And so I asked my friend, Hannah, I'm like, "Hey, can I use a tampon?" And she had a whole bunch, so it was fine for me to practice and practice and practice. And first time I couldn't get it, second time, couldn't get it. It got to the point where I cried and then we were going out to dinner that night because we would just go out different places sometimes, and Kelly, she was sitting next to me, and she was like, "So, weren't you trying to try and put a tampon in?" And I'm like--
Beth Demme (26:15):
How did everybody know? Wait a second.
Because we all were in the same room.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (26:20):
Oh, yeah. It's one big room.
Beth Demme (26:22):
Well, but were you in the bathroom trying to do it?
Right. But I was the one who kept on coming back and getting another one.
Beth Demme (26:26):
But she explained everything and she was like... she just explained it to me. And I tried it again when we got back to the place and it worked. And I've been using tampons ever since then.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (26:41):
Do you have a favorite brand?
No, not really. But like how you said that your cycle isn't heavy at all, I just moved up to a super plus. And that's kind of frustrating, but yeah.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (27:00):
I think that's so cool though that you all banded together and somebody gave her a tampon, somebody helped her. That's so great to hear! That's what I want to know that's happening. We're helping each other and we're not embarrassed to share. Because I was using pads for a good long time, but I had tried tampons a couple of times and I had used the paper applicator tampons, and I could never figure them out either. And I would read the manual thing and I was like, "No, this is too hard, uncomfortable." And I stopped. And then it was ninth grade when I finally tried a tampon again, because I was on the basketball team. Don't ask. I was not good. But it was really uncomfortable to play basketball and have a pad on.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (27:41):
So I tried these Playtex makes of sports tampon. And it has a plastic applicator. I tried it and I was able to use it and it was awesome. And there was no leakage, it was great. Even though I don't play sports anymore, I've been using that exact brand. That's the only thing I buy. I tried a different brand awhile back and I didn't like the— because the sports one has a plastic applicator and it works really well. So that's the brand I've been using.
Beth Demme (28:08):
They're in a black box, right?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (28:10):
No, they're in a green and pink box.
Beth Demme (28:12):
I did use that one for awhile, but now I use one that's in a black box. I don't remember what the brand is, but--
Beth Demme (28:19):
I think it's Playtex.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (28:21):
I think that might be Kotex.
Beth Demme (28:22):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (28:23):
Those are two different.
Yeah. And the applicator pops out and everything. Yeah. That's what I use.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (28:28):
Beth Demme (28:29):
Is that question about pads or tampons? Is that something you and your friends talk about, Hannah?
Yes. When my friends first started getting their period they would always use pads, but I was like... and I was there whenever they would try their tampon for the first time. And I'm like, "It's really not that bad." And they would freak out. That's just like how I did.
Beth Demme (28:50):
Well, it's odd to be putting something in your body.
Beth Demme (28:53):
That's why it's uncomfortable.
Right. But it's always nice to have someone with you while you try it. But yeah, that's something that me and my best friend, Carmen, always talk about. Because if I run out of supplies, I'll ask her, "Hey, do you have a tampon?" She's like, "No, I have pads." It really is just something that we talk about. It's not awkward at all.
Beth Demme (29:15):
Is there anything like that for men? I was trying to think of something comparable, of a parallel. The only thing that I could come up with is asking a man if he wears boxers or briefs. And that is not even nearly as personal as the idea of a pad or a tampon to me.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (29:32):
It's true. But also why do we ask that?
Beth Demme (29:36):
Ask what? Boxers or briefs?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (29:37):
Why do we ask men that? And what's the context? I have asked men that before, I am realizing. But why do we ask that?
Beth Demme (29:43):
I think because it seems like it's something personal and so-
Stephanie Kostopoulos (29:47):
But why are we asking? Have you asked a guy that?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (29:50):
Okay. I've asked a guy that, but I can't think of the context of that. Maybe a guy friend? But I don't know why.
Beth Demme (29:58):
But also I've never had a man ask me if I use a pad or a tampon, so maybe it's not comparable. In general, I think that there's a lack of conversation and discussion about women's bodies and about the incredible things that our bodies can do. And maybe this is another thing that is improving generationally. Maybe it's harder for people like me who are in our forties or people who are older than me to talk about our bodies without feeling that sense of shame.
Beth Demme (30:27):
When we were thinking about doing this episode, I don't remember which of us found the article, but it's one of those things that when we started talking about what we're going to talk about on the podcast we start to notice things and there was this article in the news, and we'll put a link to it in the show notes, but in America, there are a lot of high school age girls, probably middle school too, but I think the article was really focused on high school, that miss school because they don't have access to feminine products.
Beth Demme (30:56):
I think it said in the article that you can't buy feminine products with your food stamp type money with SNAP benefits. So we made provision to make sure that people have access to food and we haven't done a great job at that, there's a lot of food insecurity) but even in the midst of that, we haven't realized the need to make sure that everyone has access to feminine products. And so people are missing school. That's terrible. Right?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (31:25):
Yeah. I can't believe that that is happening. I can't believe it because there's so many things like that that shouldn't be happening. But that's so sad to read and to see that there are girls and in other countries, but specifically in our country don't go to school because they don't have access to feminine products. That is just a basic necessity like food. It's a basic necessity. If you can't afford it, it needs to be provided. And however, that happens, it needs to happen. I just think that's crazy that that's not available.
Even at like malls or something, you could put in 25 cents and then you'll have access to what you need whenever you're on your period.
Beth Demme (32:08):
But they don't have that at school. Do they?
No. I think they should though, because even for me, sometimes we're not even prepared. Girls have asked me if I have anything and at the moment I won't because I'm not on it. The school can provide it and all you need is 25 cents. I think that would be a great way to help all the girls in high school.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (32:29):
Even just have the nurse have them available for free. If you need one, you can go to the nurse and get one. I think it'd be great to have them in all the bathrooms. I don't know if you guys have noticed, but in some Chick-fil-As I've seen they have a basket of pads and tampons available for free. You just take what you need. I've never taken them, but if I needed it, I would take one and be so thankful that they're there. I think that is so important. I would love to see that in so many more restrooms, just have it there. It's something that we need. We need food, we need tampons. It's a normal thing of life.
Beth Demme (33:02):
But I wonder if that policy gap and that it hasn't been thought of. I wonder if it's because it's not a supply that men need? And it's so often it's men who are making decisions. What would be comparable for a man? What is a guy going to come to school and need and not have? Toilet paper? Is he going to bring his own toilet paper? No. The school provides that.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (33:24):
Well, yeah. Well, think about that. Everyone needs toilet paper and it's provided in every single bathroom, but every other person needs tampons, but it's not provided in bathrooms. So yeah, think about that. What if you told guys they had to bring their own toilet paper? They're not going to do that. But you tell women and we're like, "Oh, of course we have to bring our own tampons." Of course, that's what we have to do. That's...
Beth Demme (33:48):
Right. This is my responsibility to-
Stephanie Kostopoulos (33:50):
Yeah, it almost-
That's what we're taught as kids.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (33:52):
Ever since we first started, you have to bring your own things. It's not going to be provided, unless...
Stephanie Kostopoulos (33:57):
Just think about that. If next to the toilet paper, there was just a supply of tampons or pads in every single restroom. How did we get that made? What do we need to do? Who government do we need to make that happen?
And I think the bathroom is the best place to have them. I know that you said maybe the nurse will have it, but if a guy sees you go into the nurse, you'll feel like, "Oh no, they know." But the bathroom, no guy can go in there because it's the ladies bathroom. It would be a good place to have them.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (34:28):
Yeah. It'd be easy. Just put it there.
Beth Demme (34:31):
And it must be a financial decision. They must think, "Oh, it's too expensive to provide these. And we'll put them out and then people who don't need them will take them." But that doesn't happen with the toilet paper. I don't think it would happen with the feminine supplies.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (34:42):
Yeah. It's not too much for you to budget for toilet paper, but it's too much for you to budget for tampons. Why is that? And how do we change that? Because it just makes a whole lot of sense to do that. And maybe there are people that would take more. And if they're going to take more, they probably need them. And I want them to take more. But if I saw them out and I didn't need one, or I had my own, I wouldn't take it. I would leave them for other people. I don't think that would be a huge... just like, I don't take toilet paper. If I saw a roll sitting there, I wouldn't take the toilet paper.
Beth Demme (35:14):
And we keep a basket out in the ladies room at church and it never gets raided. It's never like some, "Oh, wow. I finally found free tampons. This is amazing." And Chick-fil-A is not having that problem. And I would think that it would be possible to provide them.
At my old school we used to have, they would be in the cabinet, there would be a box of tampons there if you needed them. But then it was elementary school to high school. And the younger kids would take them and start shooting them everywhere. And that's why they stopped doing it. But in high school you should be mature enough not to do that. And also it would be in the ladies room.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (35:56):
Ladies aren't going to be doing those things.
Beth Demme (35:59):
Oh, right. You're saying the bathroom at your old private school was a shared bathroom, it was a co-ed bathroom. There was just one for everybody. And I see what you're saying. Okay.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (36:10):
We're having a lot of discussion about periods and there is an end to a period dot.
Beth Demme (36:17):
It does end.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (36:17):
And begins another cycle called menopause, which you are actually in the middle of. Correct?
Beth Demme (36:23):
I'm experiencing it. Because I had to have a hysterectomy, my body went immediately into menopause. There's a name for it, surgical menopause. I don't know what they call it, something like that. It's just different. That may also be part of why this conversation is like, for me a little, maybe not as meaningful as it is for you guys because I'm like, "I don't deal with this." I don't know. Yes, there should be tampons everywhere. I agree. But I'm never going to use one.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (36:53):
So you're almost like a man in this conversation, how a man would be.
Beth Demme (36:57):
Wow. I don't have ovaries, so now I'm a man. Thanks Steph.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (37:00):
No, no. It's not what I said--
Beth Demme (37:02):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (37:02):
Let's turn back the tape and see, I did not say that. No, just in the sense that it doesn't affect you. And you have a little less care, I guess, because--
Beth Demme (37:15):
Yeah, there's distance between me and this subject.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (37:17):
Yeah. When you went through menopause, or when you started menopause, were you... one of the things, when I started my period, my mom said, "You're a woman now." That's part of the rite of passage is you'll go through puberty, you're a woman now. Did you feel like when you stopped your period, this thing that's so associated with womanhood, did you feel less than a woman when you started menopause?
Beth Demme (37:41):
Definitely. I do think that there is this sense that something that defined my gender is gone. And so now what does that mean for me in terms of my gender? And we're living in a time when there's a lot of conversation about gender and what defines gender and the fluidity of gender. Maybe that also makes it on my mind more, but I think it also impacted me because I felt old. Because I felt like, "Oh, menopause is something that older women go through. And so now I'm old. All of that is behind me. I'm looking back more than I'm looking forward." There were some of those psychological and emotional adjustments that I had to work through and had to make.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (38:27):
And has menopause... My experience with menopause was my mom going through it. She went through it 40. She went through it early. So as early as late 40s?
Beth Demme (38:36):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (38:36):
Okay. Maybe that's when she went through it. It was bad. I remember her on it and she was just lots of mood swings, lots of issues. And that was my experience with menopause. I was like, "Oh, I don't want to go through that." What has your experience been?
Beth Demme (38:51):
I was really nervous about it because I remember that when my mom went through menopause, when Grammy went through menopause, she was really mean. She was mean to pretty much everybody. And when I was going to have to have the surgery and I was talking to her about it, I was like, "I'm nervous about menopause. I don't know what this is going to be like. I don't want to be mean to people." And she was really dismissive. She was like, "It's no big deal. You're going to be fine." And I was like, "Oh, no, no. I remember. I remember that you were mean to everybody." And she was like, "I was? I'm sorry." She doesn't remember that. She didn't realize she was doing it so she doesn't remember that it happened that way. I haven't had big mood swings. I've had... I have hot flashes and I have night sweats, which are gross. But I haven't had any big emotional... I haven't felt any emotional turmoil during it, other than just reckoning with that concept of aging and gender.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (39:46):
Do you still feel less than a woman now or like you did at the beginning?
Beth Demme (39:51):
It's such a weird feeling to feel less than, especially in this case, because I wasn't doing anything with those ovaries anyway.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (40:00):
And you had burned them years before.
Beth Demme (40:05):
Yeah, I already wasn't having a period. I really wasn't using that part of my body at all. And yet I do feel like, "Oh, I'm really missing something." Several months after the surgery, I physically felt like there was an empty space inside of me. And I started going to massage therapy to try to address that and found an amazing masseuse here in town, named Nicole, who understood what I was saying and helped me work through the emotions, because we carry our emotions in our body. And we did a lot of body work so that I could walk through that. That helped a lot. But I think just... my instant reaction when you say, do you still feel less than is "Yeah. There's something I don't have that other women have."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (40:50):
And now it's time for Questions for Reflection. This is a chance for you to answer some questions for yourself. You can answer them now in your head, you can pause between each question or you can download a PDF on our website.
Beth Demme (41:05):
Number one, did today's conversation feel uncomfortable to you? Why? Number two, have you ever asked a woman about her cycle or being curious about it but chosen not to ask because it didn't feel appropriate? Number three, have you ever been around a woman who got her period unexpectedly? How did she handle the situation? How did you? And number four, how is the lack of conversation amongst women about our reproductive system affecting men? What can we do as women to make sure our voices are heard in our community?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (41:43):
All right. Well, you may notice that we are doing things a little bit different in this episode. We are moving Questions for Reflection because we thought it made more sense to be moved up. And now we are in our slice of life section.
Beth Demme (41:56):
Slice of life!
Stephanie Kostopoulos (41:57):
And if you wonder what that is--
Beth Demme (41:59):
Slice of pie. Slice of life. Slice of cake. Slices are good.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (42:00):
Well, there you go. Thank you, Beth, for that definition. We are just going to not spend too much time, but just say a few things. We do want to thank Hannah so much for being here.
Beth Demme (42:15):
Yay! Thank you. I'm so proud to be your Mom.
You're welcome. I had a fun time.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (42:18):
Yay! We will definitely have you on again, for sure. For something maybe talking about how your mom has ruined your life, just those kinds of things, those fun things.
Beth Demme (42:26):
Yeah. Something lighthearted.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (42:28):
And maybe we'll have my mom on too, four generations.
Beth Demme (42:31):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (42:32):
Yeah. That could be fun. I'll just have to get another mic. But we do normally ask our guests this question and you don't have to answer it if you don't want to.
Beth Demme (42:42):
It'll just be really awkward if you don't. But you don't have to answer it, it's fine, really. No, seriously.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (42:48):
What TV show are you into right now?
I'm going back to Vampire Diaries. I've just restarted Vampire Diaries.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (42:56):
Oh, okay. All right.
Beth Demme (42:58):
I tell ya, this quarantine time and having a totally different schedule has produced a lot of TV watching.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (43:05):
Yeah. I'm all for it.
Beth Demme (43:07):
You went off through. Well, you were into Grey's Anatomy for a while, and then you paused that, and you did all of Outer Banks, and now you're circling back to-- what did I see you watching the other day? Stranger Things?
Stranger Things. Yes. My boyfriend has not seen Stranger Things. I have told him that we have to watch it. I'm watching Stranger Things with him and I'm watching Vampire Diaries on my own.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (43:31):
Oh, wow. How many seasons were... not Stranger Things, of Vampire Diaries?
I think there's five in total, but I'm on the first one.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (43:41):
Beth Demme (43:41):
Oh, you started back at the beginning?
At the very beginning.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (43:44):
That's what I did with Gilmore Girls. I was watching it right before quarantine started. And then I was like, "I'm glad I'm watching this." I watched through the whole thing. Are you watching anything, Beth?
Beth Demme (43:54):
We have been burning through shows. I watched all the episodes of Space Force. I watched all the episodes of Upload. I watched...
Stephanie Kostopoulos (44:02):
Oh yeah, Upload, I watched that too. And Space Force.
Beth Demme (44:06):
And the second season of Homecoming, which is an Amazon original. The first season had Julia Roberts and I really enjoyed it. And then we just watched the... when I say we, I mean my husband and I. And we just watched the second season. But it's only 30 minute shows. It only took three or four nights to get through all of them.
Beth Demme (44:24):
We're not going to encourage our guest today to share her social because she is 16 and I am her mom. And I don't really want her to do that, but-
Stephanie Kostopoulos (44:30):
You might find her online.
Beth Demme (44:32):
But if you have any questions for Hannah or would like to send her mother any compliments about Hannah, you can reach me at email@example.com and we'll put that in the show notes.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (44:42):
Beth Demme (44:43):
Where can people find you on the social web, inter web things?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (44:47):
Well, on all the social media, Instagram, Twitter, not Facebook. I am smkauthor is my handle. And my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to email me anything, nothing weird, please. This has been the Discovering Our Scars Podcast. Thank you for joining us.
Beth Demme (45:04):
I wish we could exit on applause. I would just feel better if there was a room full of applause.
[applause sound effect]