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 and so diverse world of mens­trual expe­ri­en­ces tog­e­ther. This time, sex edu­ca­tor Hebe shares her per­so­nal journey.

Hebe is a sex edu¬≠ca¬≠tor from Eng¬≠land. Because of heavy blee¬≠ding and severe cramps, she star¬≠ted taking the pro¬≠ges¬≠te¬≠rone only pill. Her advice is to talk openly about peri¬≠ods since it unites her and the people in her life. Thank you so much for the inte¬≠res¬≠ting insights and sharing your experiences!

Personal Information

Name: Hebe
Age: 21
Gender/ Sex: Female
Coun­try of birth: Eng­land
Home: Bris­tol, Eng­land
Job: Final year geo­gra­phy stu­dent (Bsc.) / Sex edu­ca­tor
Age at first period: 12
Favo­rite period pro­duct: Mens­trual cup
Cost per mens¬≠trua¬≠tion: I no lon¬≠ger have peri¬≠ods due to the con¬≠tracep¬≠tion I‚Äôm on. Howe¬≠ver, for the last 12 mon¬≠ths of blee¬≠ding my costs were ¬£0! I used a mens¬≠trual cup and reus¬≠able period under¬≠wear.
Con¬≠tracep¬≠tion: Pro¬≠ges¬≠te¬≠rone only pill

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

I feel very lucky that my mother was very open when tal¬≠king about peri¬≠ods. She pro¬≠vi¬≠ded me with books on puberty, as well as sharing her own sto¬≠ries and advice. This, com¬≠bi¬≠ned with being one of the first in my class to start their period, I was always the one my friends came to for advice about their peri¬≠ods. This was a huge influ¬≠en¬≠cing fac¬≠tor in my beco¬≠m¬≠ing a sex edu¬≠ca¬≠tor and now wri¬≠ting my dis¬≠ser¬≠ta¬≠tion on vaginas!

2. You are a sex educator. How and by whom were you educated about menstruation?

I remem¬≠ber the first time my mother taught me about peri¬≠ods I was 11. She sat me down before I was going on a resi¬≠den¬≠tial school trip, told me that every month a woman bleeds out of her vagina and showed me how a pad worked in case I star¬≠ted on the trip. I remem¬≠ber fee¬≠ling very grown up with my pack of pads, but not actually thin¬≠king it would hap¬≠pen to me since I felt remo¬≠ved from it. Addi¬≠tio¬≠nally, I had bio¬≠logy les¬≠sons around the same time where my tea¬≠cher exp¬≠lai¬≠ned pro¬≠perly why peri¬≠ods hap¬≠pen. I feel lucky that I lear¬≠ned about it at a time that was con¬≠ve¬≠ni¬≠ent for me.

Vulvani, Menstruation around the world, Menstruation, Periode, Menarche, Sex educator, Sexualaufklärung, starke Periode, starke Blutung, Periodenschmerzen, offener Umgang mit Menstruation,

Photo Credits: Hebe

3. Tell us a little about your first period.

I remem¬≠ber it so vividly. It was hal¬≠lo¬≠ween and I was 12. I remem¬≠ber this because my mother had told me she also star¬≠ted her period on hal¬≠lo¬≠ween when she was 12! At school, I went to the toi¬≠let before lunch. I remem¬≠ber loo¬≠king down and see¬≠ing a smear of brown and instantly thought ‚ÄúOh my god I‚Äôve poo¬≠ped mys¬≠elf‚ÄĚ. Then I rea¬≠li¬≠sed it was period blood. I wad¬≠ded up loads of toi¬≠let paper and put it in my knickers. 

My friend out¬≠side had begun ban¬≠ging on the door asking what was taking so long and I said I was ill and had to call my mum. I raced to the school phone box and cal¬≠led my mum to tell her. My mum drove in and drop¬≠ped a very obvious wash bag fil¬≠led with pads into the school office for me to collect. I remem¬≠ber fee¬≠ling hor¬≠ri¬≠fied that I saw she had brought my older bro¬≠ther in the car with her. 

I was devas¬≠ta¬≠ted this had hap¬≠pened to me. None of my close friends had star¬≠ted and I felt embarr¬≠as¬≠sed and that it was all very unfair. I was also meant to be stay¬≠ing late at school and dres¬≠sing up for hal¬≠lo¬≠ween and had been exci¬≠ted for weeks. In the end I had to go home because my period kept lea¬≠king around my pads because it was so heavy. Ever¬≠yone was con¬≠fu¬≠sed as to why I wasn‚Äôt stay¬≠ing for the party and I cried when I got home, angry at the world and my mum for tel¬≠ling my dad and bro¬≠ther, angry at the copious amounts of blood lea¬≠king onto my bed and the sports tour¬≠na¬≠ment I had the next day. 

4. How do you feel about your menstruation?

My rela¬≠ti¬≠ons¬≠hip with my period has defi¬≠ni¬≠tely chan¬≠ged over the years. I always had very heavy peri¬≠ods. Unusually heavy, which is why I am on the pill now. When I was 14 I also star¬≠ted having debi¬≠li¬≠ta¬≠ting cramps every month that cau¬≠sed me to throw up. This made me dread my period and feel anxious whenever it came. I also had a septate microper¬≠fo¬≠rate hymen mea¬≠ning that I couldn‚Äôt use tam¬≠pons until I went to the doc¬≠tors aged 16. They con¬≠fir¬≠med my con¬≠di¬≠tion and I had hymeno¬≠plasty sur¬≠gery, remo¬≠ving my hymen. 

After this, my rela¬≠ti¬≠ons¬≠hip with my period impro¬≠ved. I could use tam¬≠pons and later a mens¬≠trual cup, which hel¬≠ped with my heavy flow. I had lear¬≠ned the best way to manage period pain and what medi¬≠ca¬≠tion was most effec¬≠tive for pain relief. Com¬≠pa¬≠red to other teenage girls, I loo¬≠ked young, since I was skinny and short with few cur¬≠ves. This incre¬≠a¬≠sed my inse¬≠cu¬≠rity. My period made me feel wom¬≠anly and grown up and proud of my body. It also made me feel like crap some¬≠ti¬≠mes. Over¬≠all, it was a very com¬≠plex rela¬≠ti¬≠ons¬≠hip. Now that I don‚Äôt have them, I some¬≠ti¬≠mes miss them, but I also enjoy not having them a lot more.

Vulvani, Menstruation around the world, Menstruation, Periode, Menarche, Sex educator, Sexualaufklärung, starke Periode, starke Blutung, Periodenschmerzen, offener Umgang mit Menstruation, Menge Menstruationsblut

Average amount of mens¬≠trual blood

Photo Credits: Hebe

Vulvani, Menstruation around the world, Menstruation, Periode, Menarche, Sex educator, Sexualaufklärung, starke Periode, starke Blutung, Periodenschmerzen, offener Umgang mit Menstruation, Menge Menstruationsblut

Example of amount of mens¬≠trual blood during a heavy period

Photo Credits: Hebe

5. Which menstrual products have you already tried?

Pads ‚Äď I resen¬≠ted them for a while when I couldn‚Äôt use tam¬≠pons and had no choice. But now they‚Äôre like an old friend. I like not having to insert anything, espe¬≠cially when I‚Äôm cram¬≠ping or on ligh¬≠ter days. I don‚Äôt like how they can smell, feel heavy or wet or when the adhe¬≠sive sticks to your skin or hairs. The plastic waste also worried me. 

Tam¬≠pons ‚Äď These made me feel more free and more capa¬≠ble. They made me feel more grown up. The risk of TSS and not being able to wear them over¬≠night was a draw¬≠back though. The waste from these also worried me. 

Mens¬≠trual cup ‚Äď my favou¬≠rite! No waste, holds more blood which is good for my heavy flow. It can be a faff to change on the go if you still have to change them every few hours like me (really heavy flow). On days where I wasn‚Äôt so heavy or I was at home though, they‚Äôre a dream. In fact, I wrote a whole blog post on how much I like the mens¬≠trual cup and period underwear.

Period under¬≠wear ‚Äď I liked these as an alter¬≠na¬≠tive to pads. I used them in com¬≠bi¬≠na¬≠tion with my mens¬≠trual cup and they never lea¬≠ked or let me down. Much com¬≠fier than a pad too! The price and having to wash them is a drawback.

Vulvani, Menstruation around the world, Menstruation, Periode, Menarche, Sex educator, Sexualaufklärung, starke Periode, starke Blutung, Periodenschmerzen, offener Umgang mit Menstruation, Menge Menstruationsblut

Photo Credits: Hebe

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

I like to eat a lot and stay warm! Hot water bot¬≠t¬≠les and pyja¬≠mas. I hate having to go swim¬≠ming or lots of phy¬≠si¬≠cal acti¬≠vity, espe¬≠cially when there are no toi¬≠let faci¬≠li¬≠ties and I find I am stres¬≠sing about lea¬≠king rather than enjoy¬≠ing myself.

7. How are you feeling when menstruating?

When I used to be on my period for about 3 years I would have extreme cramps every month. They would be relent¬≠less. If I did not take pain¬≠kil¬≠ler before they got to a cer¬≠tain seve¬≠rity, then they would con¬≠ti¬≠nue to get worse until I was thro¬≠wing up or pas¬≠sing out. Lying flat not cur¬≠led up, pain¬≠kil¬≠lers and a hot water bot¬≠tle were my best friends. Eating a banana also helps due to pot¬≠as¬≠sium content.

8. Who are you talking to about menstruation?

Most of my friends and stu¬≠dents I teach. I‚Äôm very open about peri¬≠ods and so are most people I know. Peri¬≠ods unite me and other people in my life. I talk to my boy¬≠friend about them too, so he can under¬≠stand me and my needs bet¬≠ter. These con¬≠ver¬≠sa¬≠ti¬≠ons hap¬≠pen in my home, when chat¬≠ting over cof¬≠fee ‚Äď whe¬≠re¬≠ver! I‚Äôm very lucky.

9. Do you have a particular important story about menstruation?

I‚Äôm sure there are ple¬≠nty, but I‚Äôve com¬≠ple¬≠tely for¬≠got¬≠ten them!

10. Want to share anything else about the period taboo as a sex educator?

My advice, espe¬≠cially as a sex edu¬≠ca¬≠tor would be to talk about it! Peri¬≠ods are a pain, some¬≠ti¬≠mes liter¬≠ally, and sharing your expe¬≠ri¬≠en¬≠ces helps ease it and brings us tog¬≠e¬≠ther. Peri¬≠ods are not¬≠hing to be asha¬≠med of and the more we let our¬≠sel¬≠ves be embarr¬≠as¬≠sed about them, the less we gain from them.

Vulvani, Menstruation around the world, Menstruation, Periode, Menarche, Sex educator, Sexualaufklärung, starke Periode, starke Blutung, Periodenschmerzen, offener Umgang mit Menstruation, Menge Menstruationsblut

Photo Credits: Hebe

Do you want to become part of ‚ÄėMenstruation around the world‚Äô?

We hope to be able to pre¬≠sent the por¬≠traits of mens¬≠trua¬≠ting people as varied and diverse as pos¬≠si¬≠ble. And for this we need you ‚Äď no mat¬≠ter how you feel about your own mens¬≠trua¬≠tion or where you come from! If you would like to be part of this series and share your per¬≠so¬≠nal expe¬≠ri¬≠en¬≠ces and thoughts about mens¬≠trua¬≠tion with us, please write us a mes¬≠sage or sim¬≠ply fill out this ques¬≠ti¬≠onn¬≠aire (anony¬≠mously is also pos¬≠si¬≠ble). We are already loo¬≠king for¬≠ward to sharing your story with the Vul¬≠vani 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.