Menstruation around the world is a new series from Vulvani that seeks to show the diversity of menstrual experiences around the world. How do different people experience their periods? How do different cultures deal with the topic? What products are used during menstruation? These are all questions that we are asking ourselves and that we aim to ask many other people as well. We portray people from different countries with their personal stories. Because it is about time that we talk about menstruation and provide a platform for various voices. Let us explore together the wonderful and oh so diverse world of menstrual experiences. I will kick off the start of the new series and answer ten questions about my period. Have fun reading the interview!

Personal Information

Name: Britta
Age: 29
Home:
Hamburg (currently traveling through South America for a couple of months)
Studies: Bachelor in Multilingual Communication & Master in Latin American Studies
Job: self-proclaimed menstrual representative
Age of the first period:
13
Favourite period product: Free Bleeding
Cost per menstruation : 0,00 €
Contraception method: Condom + learning natural family planning

1. How is menstruation seen in your family, culture or even country?

I have the feeling that a lot has changed in Germany in recent years. Menstruation is talked about again and again in the big media or on television. Especially people on social media are getting louder and louder about menstruation. Nevertheless I would say that menstruation in general is still loaded with many prejudices, ignorance and a general taboo. We still have a long way to go before everyone accepts menstruation for what it really is: a completely natural bodily function that takes place at regular intervals in healthy people with an uterus.

2. How and by whom were you educated about menstruation?

We had many different educational books at home about menstruation and puberty in general. I enjoyed reading them. There was also always a drawer in the bathroom with various menstrual products (tampons, pads and panty liners). But we didn’t talk much about the topic. But menstruation was not a taboo and there was always the possibility to ask questions. When my first period was long over, I gathered all my courage and told my older sister in tears that I now also had my period. She provided me instantly with tampons and told me that pads are disgusting and that I shouldn’t use them. Little by little my friends and I also asked each other quietly and very shyly whether we had already gotten our period for the first time. At school we also had sex education. But I cannot remember that it was particularly extensive.

3. Talk a little about your first period.

I was surprised at the age of 13 by my first menstruation in a cinema in Berlin, far away from home! It was just before New Year’s Eve and I was visiting my cousin for a few days. I was not really prepared for my first menstruation. I felt I had to go to the toilet every few minutes because I was afraid I could bleed all over the place. The idea of having some pads or tampons in my travel bag as a precaution hadn’t occurred to me before, of course. I only had a few panty liners with me because I sometimes have had a little discharge, but I hadn’t expected my first menstruation at all! So panty liners plus toilet paper had to catch the menstrual blood, which sometimes worked better and other times worse. You can read the whole story of my first period here.

4. How do you feel about your own menstruation?

Today menstruation has become one of my favourite topics and I find it fascinating to get to know and understand my own body better and better. There is nothing I would rather spend all of my time with than my period. Hence this blog and Vulvani. But of course that was not always the case. In the past I found it all quite strange and above all unnecessary.

5. What do you like to do when on your period?

When I am on my period, I like to take a lot of time for myself. Warmth is also important. Especially on the first two days I like to be at home, lying in bed with a hot water bottle, listening to podcasts and drinking warm tea. And just taking it easy and relax. That is my dream siutation! When I have enough rest, I have little to no period pain or other discomforts.  

6. Which menstrual products have you already tried?

By now a lot! Started with folding toilet paper when I was surprised by my first period. Then actually tampons and sometimes panty liners as a backup. Over time I tried pads at night or when I was at home. To be honest, I didn’t think that much about the different options out there and the enormous waste created by disposable products before. Those were simply the products that were available at home or that my friends used. I think around 2016 a good friend told me about free bleeding and I was totally fascinated and tried it. Then I combined free bleeding with tampons, depending on what I wanted to do during my period. And in 2018 I consciously noticed menstrual cups for the first time and bought one instantly. A few months later, washable panty liners and pads made of fabric were added to the mix. And my period was suddenly completely sustainable and eco-friendly. By now, I prefer to practice free bleeding, preferably with a washable panty liner as a backup. On longer bus trips without toilets I use my menstrual cup. 

7. What kind of food or home remedies helps you with menstrual discomfort?

Above all, a lot of rest and time at home help me. It is best for me if I do not have much to do on the first two days of my menstruation. I also like to drink warm tea or use my hot water bottle. When I am relaxed, my menstruation is also relaxed. I also have the feeling that if I 100% practice free bleeding, my period is shorter and more comfortable.

8. Who are you talking to about menstruation?

Actually, everyone who hasn’t left after three seconds hanging out with me! No no, it’s not that extreme. But in the last few years I’ve started to talk more and more about menstruation and especially Vulvani has intensified that. I am always very happy when friends or people I know consciously start talking about it with me, because they know that I like to talk about menstruation and they can ask me all their questions. I still like to talk about free bleeding most, because then people don’t stop being amazed and many can’t imagine how it actually works just fine.

9. Do you have a particular funny or embarrassing menstruation story?

Actually, not really. But there have been a few ratehr unusual menstrual moments, especially when travelling. Maybe the moment when I had to change my full menstrual cup on an outdoor toilet during a day trip in Chile or a few weeks later I had to free bleed onto the sand on a Peruvian beach because there were no toilets for miles. Even though I had found a quiet place, it had to be fast. Because on the promenade people were already approaching us again.

10. Want to share anything else about menstruation (or yourself)?

Go out into the world and talk about menstruation! Be proud to bleed and don’t hide your period anymore. Let’s all push forward the normalization of menstruation together. Get informed, get to know your own body and try out new, sustainable menstrual products. And keep reading my articles here on Vulvani!

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!