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6 Reasons to love your period (yes, seriously)

Charlotte Hilton Andersen is the author of the book The Great Fitness Experiment: One Year of Trying Everything and runs the popular health and fitness website of the same name, where she tries out a new workout every month, specializing...

You're probably not giving your period the credit it deserves

The first thing most girls learn about getting their period is how much it sucks. It will ruin your favorite underwear, cost you money, embarrass you in public, mess up (literally and figuratively) your sex life, make you overly emotional and even hurt you. I say it's time to question that narrative. Sure all that bad stuff is true. But there's good stuff about menstruating too! We bleed and it's fine.

As an adult period-having woman, while I've learned to deal (haven't stained a pair of pants in over decade, booyah!), I've still often wished that my uterus came with an on/off switch. Or that Mother Nature had at least given our vaginas a sphincter so we could let out the blood at convenient time. There's got to be a better way to procreate than have half the population shuffling around leaving a bloody DNA trail, right?

This is why most of us ladies spend so much time and money trying to avoid or control our inevitable monthly cycle. Between pads, pain relievers, undies and tampons, the average American woman will spend nearly $19,000 over her lifetime on period-related gear — and that's not even counting doctor's visits and birth control prescriptions, which can add hundreds of dollars every year.

I know we're the lucky ones (I consider having as many options of birth control and feminine hygiene products as we do to be one of the greatest miracles of our modern day), but it still can seem more like a curse than a blessing.

I'm not the only one who has a hard time seeing the silver lining in the cloudy maxi pad: When I searched for a stock image to use in this article of a "happy menstruating woman," there wasn't a single result. But there were 17 pages of pictures of unhappy menstruating women. And, of course, there are the very real problems with menstruation that keep millions of women out of school and work due to pain, emotional distress and tidal flows.

Yet, even with all this, not everyone sees surfing the crimson tide as a downer. In fact, Indian women have recently started a revolution to fight the shaming and exclusion of menstruating women, particularly from Hindu temples, and tweet out their reasons why they're #happytobleed. The more I thought about it, the more I realized how right they are. Our periods tell us so much about our health, our fertility and our femininity — why not celebrate that? In that vein (ha!), here are six reasons to love your period:

1. It gives you an intimate understanding of how your body works

Having to get up close and personal with yourself every month gives you an opportunity to start figuring out how all your parts work together.

2. Automatic (and free!) pregnancy test

Ok, so this one isn't 100 percent for sure, but the vast majority of the time, it's a good sign you're not baking a bun in your oven. If you don't want to be pregnant, then it's a relief — and if you do, then it can help you figure out when to try again.

You're probably not giving your period the credit it deserves

3. It's a sign of good health

Our periods are kind of the canary in the coal mine when it comes to our health. A problem with your menstrual cycle can clue you in to a variety of conditions, ranging from ovarian cysts to endocrine disorders to cancer — if you're paying attention.

4. It gives you good stories to tell

Sure that time my dad gave me balloons and a "You're a woman now!" card when I first got my period was humiliating at the time, but it's hilarious now! What lady doesn't have a good bloodletting tale to share?

5. It gives you an easy out when you need one

Want to skip a boring dinner? Explain your middle-of-the-day sobfest? Need a reason to eat Ben & Jerry's? Because who's going to fact-check this excuse? No one!

6. It makes sisters of all of us

To every woman who's shared a tampon under the stall door with a stranger, given feminine hygiene supplies to women's shelters, educated a girl about what to expect from her period, made reusable pads so girls in Africa can attend school, supported Indian women's rights or just otherwise helped another sister out — this is what it's all about. We're all in this together.

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