Mens­trua­tion around the world is a new series from Vul­vani that seeks to show the diver­sity of mens­trual expe­ri­en­ces around the world. We por­tray people from dif­fe­rent coun­tries with their per­so­nal sto­ries. Let’s explore the won­der­ful and diverse world of mens­trual expe­ri­en­ces tog­e­ther. I am very happy to start the new series with an exci­ting first interview.

SJ is from the United Sta­tes and the times when he had his mens­trua­tion are finally over thanks to taking tes­to­ste­rone. He talks to us about peri­ods as a trans­man. Many, many thanks for your open­ness and your sto­ries, dear SJ!

Personal Information

Name: SJ
Age: 33
Gen­der / sex: male / bio­lo­gi­cally born as a woman
Home: Lafay­ette, Indiana, USA
Stu­dies: Mas­ters in Hig­her Edu­ca­tion
Job: Immi­gra­tion coun­selor at a col­lege
Age at first period: 11
Favou­rite period pro­duct: Tam­pon
Cost per mens­trua­tion: around 5 US-Dol­lar
Con­tracep­tion method: Ste­ril – no chance

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

‘In my family, we were really open about tal­king about it, but that was mostly because my mater­nal grand­mo­ther gave no direc­tion to my mother on what to do and how to do it. So she was bound to make sure I was know­led­ge­able. Over­all though I feel like our coun­try wants to act like women have a mens­trual cycle is a very pri­vate thing. Addi­tio­nally, men with a mens­trual cycle makes you auto­ma­ti­cally not a man any many people’s eyes.’

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

‘My mother was very open about buy­ing me pads and would talk all the time. We have two dif­fe­rent view points on her edu­ca­tion of tam­pons. Which I actually didn’t start using until col­lege. I mostly never wan­ted to talk about my mens­trual cycle, because I just didn’t relate to my gen­der sur­roun­ding it.’

3. Talk a little about your first period.

‘I remem­ber not under­stan­ding exactly what was hap­pe­ning, and I sud­denly felt very fainty and high anxiety. I actually recall going to the nurse and she said I loo­ked “white and ghostly” and allo­wed me to call home sta­ting I was “sick”. My dad actually picked me up and hand­led it like a champ, stop­ped and got me some pads and told me to try and put some heat on it.’

4. How do you feel about your own menstruation?

‘I actually hated having it and had so much dys­pho­ria around it. Taking tes­to­ste­rone has stop­ped my mens­trua­tion and I’ve had a full hysto so I no lon­ger have to worry about.’

5. Which menstrual products have you already tried?

‘Pads and tam­pons. Was always curious about the cup, but never tried it.’

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

‘I rarely ever allo­wed my period to stop me in doing anything. I do recall in some heavy blee­ding times that I just felt wiped out and would take some advil etc and passout.’

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

‘On really bad times I would load up on ibu­profen and heat and sleep. Cho­co­late always comforted.’

8. Who are you talking to about menstruation?

‘Funny, its one of the first ques­ti­ons I get when I talk about being trans, “so you don’t have a period any­more? Lucky!” But wife still has cycles, so she will touch base when she is fee­ling low or I want to get it on and if she is in on her period we usually go for more mas­sa­ges and less inter­course. Addi­tio­nally my daugh­ter in the 5th grade so we had our first dis­cus­sion about it this year, that its on the horizon.’

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

‘Actually yes, I was play­ing bas­ket­ball in high school during a sec­tio­nal tour­na­ment game, was a 9th gra­der play­ing on var­sity. We had a term espe­cially when we wore our white jer­seys that if you had spot­ting on your uni­form to yell “code orange” (because code red appar­ently was too obvious, lol). So we are in heat of the game and I am stan­ding in front of our bench and one my team­ma­tes yells “Hous­ton, code orange, code orange!” I liter­ally for­get ever­ything I am sup­po­sed to be doing and tra­vel with the bas­ket­ball causing a tur­no­ver. Being a fresh­man our coach immedia­tely pulls me out to yell at me, but I high tail it the locker room to change my shorts and put on a pad. He is per­ple­xed on where I went and the assi­stant female coach turns and tells him and he shakes her off. Fast for­ward to prac­tice to dis­cuss the game and we are watching film and our coach covers that moment, and is like ” oh ya here is when Hous­ton had code orange, we will just move on” All of the other girls thought it was awe­some that our coach even knew what “code orange” was, mean­while I was mortified.’

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

‘As a trans­man I think this is so important, just because you have a period doesn’t make you any less of a man. As a parent, I feel the shame already sur­roun­ding my daugh­ter as she talks about poten­ti­ally having a period and what that means. I try to change the nar­ra­tive but would like to see it change as a whole society. Important work you are doing!’

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!

Britta Wiebe, period education, Vulvani
Britta 
Co-Foun­der Vulvani | britta@vulvani.com | Web­site | + posts

Britta Wiebe is the co-foun­der of Vul­vani. She loves rese­ar­ching, wri­ting and designing new arti­cles or inno­va­tive edu­ca­tio­nal con­cepts about mens­trua­tion all day long. When she is not tra­vel­ling the world, she enjoys spen­ding time with her loved ones in the beau­ti­ful city of Ham­burg in Germany.