Menstruation Around the World is series from Vulvani that attempts to show the diversity of menstrual experiences around the world. We portray people from different countries with their personal stories. Let us explore the wonderful world of menstrual experiences together and learn from each other to understand our own menstruation as spiritual practice as well.
Yasmine was born in England, but moved to Lebanon at the age of two. When Yasmine was diagnosed with primary dysmenorrhea, she began tracking her menstrual cycle and changed her lifestyle. She now understands her menstruation as a spiritual practice and is healing her pain by deeper connecting with her own body through cycle awareness. She is living in harmony with her inner seasons, as the different phases of the menstrual cycle are often referred to. And thus understanding her needs throughout the month in a whole new way. Thanks so much dear Yasmine for sharing your unique perspective and experiences about learning more about your periods.
Gender / Sex: Female
Country of birth: England
Job: Menstrual cycle guide / Designer
Age at first period: 10
Favorite period product: EcoFemme washable pads
Cost per menstruation: 0! I made washable cloth pads that I have been using.
Contraception: Fertility awareness method
1. How is menstruation seen in your family, culture or even country?
A lot of Lebanese women are waking up to the wisdom of their menstruation. In the last few workshops that I gave, I could feel the eagerness to learn about things that are already intuitively felt. However amongst many women and men, menstruation is mostly still a secret here in Lebanon.
On making menstrual cloth pads
A few days ago I made a phone call to a fabric supplier here as I am looking for the right material to sew some more menstrual cloth pads. I spoke to the salesman and he was giggling throughout the whole phone call. As though, hearing for the first time, the idea of a menstrual cloth pad. He thought that I was joking. He couldn’t believe what my request was when I said I wanted a fabric that is highly absorbent to replace disposable pads. I felt that he was really in shock and somehow disgusted. But I smiled back, sending him meta all the way.
Dreaming of a world where menstruation is celebrated
As for my family, we don’t really talk much about it. I didn’t even know when my sisters got their periods for the first time. These days, however, as I am opening up more and more the topic around my sisters and friends. I feel that we are breaking the walls of shame. I feel it happening all around the world. This is great. I dream of a world where menstruation is celebrated and seen as a power rather than a nuance.
2. How and by whom were you educated about menstruation?
I was first educated about menstruation at school. It was one class taken on the last floor of our school building. So it felt secretive. We were all shy when the teacher was presenting the facts. No one really asked any questions. And then that was it.
Menstruation as a spiritual practice
Later on in life because I was diagnosed with primary dysmenorrhea, I had a lot of acne and chronic fatigue. I began changing my diet and lifestyle. And tracking my cycle to understand where the pain is coming from until I discovered that healing pain will come from releasing blocked emotions, cycle syncing, connecting with my feminine and through the practice of cycle awareness. I came in contact with many resources that really inspired me to dig deeper and connect with my inner truth by giving me the proper language for menstruation as a spiritual practice, including the amazing writer and researcher Lara Owen and the founders of the Red School.
3. Tell us a little about your first period.
I was talking about periods a day before with my best friend at the time. A day later It started! It was 6am. I was heading for a marathon and nothing could stop me, not even my period! But there in the heat, I felt that something had changed and I needed to rest.
4. Which menstrual products have you already tried?
Always Ultra has been the product I have used throughout my teenage years up until I was 25. When they added perfume to their products, it really did it for me. And I replaced them with this amazing plastic free brand, Natracare, that uses organic material. The touch is so nice and feels so much more natural. Recently I bought a washable cloth pad from Ecofemme. It was the best thing ever! I started using cloth pads ever since. This makes my menstruation phase really like a ritual, the whole experience changed. I highly recommend it.
5. Menstruation as a spiritual practice: What do you like to do when on your period?
I like to make a lot of feminine tea that includes lavender, cramp bark, chamomile and rose petals. Especially on the first day as a celebration. My favourite thing to do during the first 2 days is sleep, a lot!!! I allow myself to lay down and give in, surrender, day dream like no other day of the month as I understand menstruation as a spiritual practice. I do not like to leave my nest during the first few days of my period. So I make sure to prepare a big bowl of tomato soup and do all the grocery shopping ahead of time.
6. How are you feeling when menstruating?
Right before I get my period, I feel very euphoric. My state of awareness is very heightened. I feel as though I am seeing the world through a new expanded lens. It’s wonderful! I am bleeding when the moon is waning and almost dark. So on the first or second day I feel pretty sluggish and like to be left alone, in darkness. I really allow myself to disconnect during the first few days because my body and mind are busy regenerating. I love eating tomato soup white rice during the first few days with coriander. Cramp bark is my favourite remedy for discomfort. It soothes me and puts me to sleep. Also sometimes I feel like crying a lot. So many emotions and visions from the month before or even from the past surface and leave me through tears. I love this process. I believe it is truly sacred.
7. Who are you talking to about menstruation?
I am talking to my girlfriends, my sisters, my partner – but mostly when I teach, I talk more in depth about it.
8. Do you have a particular funny, embarrassing or important story about menstruation?
Just bleeding through my pants, ALWAYS, as a teenager (in flights, classroom etc.).
9. Want to share anything else about menstruation?
Yes, I wanna say that connecting with my menstrual cycle has allowed me to know myself more and to understand my needs throughout the month unashamedly. It really changed how I perceive things, like for example the process of creation. Awareness of my cycle and understanding menstruation as a spiritual practice truly changed my life.
Do you want to become part of ‘Menstruation around the world’?
We hope to be able to present the portraits of menstruating people as varied and diverse as possible. And for this we need you – no matter how you feel about your own menstruation or where you come from! If you would like to be part of this series and share your personal experiences and thoughts about menstruation with us, please write us a message or simply fill out this questionnaire (anonymously is also possible). We are already looking forward to sharing your story with the Vulvani community!