I didn't know that my period was heavy, or slightly abnormal, until I started dating other girls. I know so much about periods now that that's something that seems bizarre to me; but, before I took a real interest in finding out more of my period, and before I started living closely with other people who also menstruated, I knew very little about what was "normal", and what a regular flow should really look like. This isn't entirely due to my schooling career - but I do think that this played a huge part in my knowing so little until I actively searched it out. So it's time to talk - because school systems need to be teaching more about menstruation.
My period was always heavy - and realistically, I should have always been using long pads with a high absorbency; however, this was never taught to me in school. I was told about the fact that I didn't need to worry about starting my period in white pants because it probably wouldn't be heavy enough to mark them in the first few days, I was taught about TSS, tampons and pads; but I was never taught that if I was changing my pad every two hours because my flow was so heavy; there were other options for me, and my flow was heavy.
It was never discussed with me that there were other options than pads and tampons - and for someone with a heavy flow but a fear of TSS, menstrual cups or sponges could be a good option. I was never told that cramps lasting more than three days, or interfering with everyday life were considered problematic and should be checked out. I was never taught important things that could have made my menstruating life a lot more comfortable, and would have made me a lot more confident about my period much earlier on in my life; and I'm starting to think that I can't be the only one who's received such a poor education with regards to periods and menstruation.
When I started dating women - I finally had this realisation; that other people's periods just weren't like mine. Every period differs; however, mine was clearly abnormal; I wasn't getting them often enough, I was bleeding a fair bit longer than other people did, I had a heavier period than any girl that I'd dated and I was bleeding a lot more; a lot of my education had to come from trial and error - it had to come from observing other women and realising that my menstrual cycle didn't quite match theirs in the way it should.
Menstruating people shouldn't be having to use trial and error to find out things about their periods; especially when some can hint at bigger issues, more problems and can be easily sorted it help is sought out for them - we need to be teaching people more about periods; it could change their lives.