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. Now who of you hasn’t tried pads before?

Mashi¬≠yat and many other women in Ban¬≠gla¬≠desh grew up not knowing what having a period really meant. Mens¬≠trua¬≠tion being a taboo topic, people having their period were being cal¬≠led ‚Äėbad‚Äô or ‚Äėimmo¬≠ral‚Äô. Now, years later, Mashi¬≠yat is a mens¬≠trual health acti¬≠vist in Ban¬≠gla¬≠desh. She leads a social enter¬≠prise cal¬≠led Res¬≠ur¬≠gence Ban¬≠gla¬≠desh which pro¬≠du¬≠ces low-cost bio¬≠de¬≠grad¬≠able pads. Thank you, Mashi¬≠yat, for sharing your ama¬≠zing story!

Personal Information

Name: Mashi­yat
Age: 24
Gen­der / Sex: Woman/Female
Coun­try of birth: Ban­gla­desh
Home: Kra­kow, Poland
Job: CEO at Res­ur­gence Ban­gla­desh / Inter­na­tio­nal Mas­ter in Glo­bal Mar­kets, Local Crea­ti­vi­ties at Uni­ver­sity of Glas­gow / Finan­cial Crime Ana­lyst at Revolut
Age at first period: 10
Favo¬≠rite period pro¬≠duct: I have only tried pads. My cul¬≠ture has always asso¬≠cia¬≠ted tam¬≠pons and mens¬≠trual cups with cer¬≠tain stig¬≠mas. And alt¬≠hough I am con¬≠scious of them, it is very dif¬≠fi¬≠cult for me to over¬≠come the fears and trau¬≠mas I have with other period pro¬≠ducts. Hope¬≠fully, I‚Äôll get there someday.
Cost per mens¬≠trua¬≠tion: 5-10 GBP depen¬≠ding on my mon¬≠thly flow, which dif¬≠fers as I have PCOS.

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

Mens¬≠trua¬≠tion is a huge taboo in my coun¬≠try. The social stig¬≠mas are so power¬≠ful that most women in low-income com¬≠mu¬≠nities are unaware of what peri¬≠ods really are. Many think that peri¬≠ods are a curse or a form of the body get¬≠ting rid of a woman‚Äôs sins by excre¬≠ting out the ‚Äėbad‚Äô blood. As a mens¬≠trual health acti¬≠vist, I have often been labe¬≠led as a pro¬≠pa¬≠gan¬≠dist since period-rela¬≠ted con¬≠ver¬≠sa¬≠ti¬≠ons are con¬≠si¬≠de¬≠red shame¬≠ful in most Ban¬≠gla¬≠de¬≠shi com¬≠mu¬≠nities. In my immediate family, mens¬≠trua¬≠tion has become more nor¬≠ma¬≠li¬≠zed ever since I took up advo¬≠cacy actions in the field of mens¬≠trual, sexual, and repro¬≠duc¬≠tive health and rights. Before that, howe¬≠ver, no one spoke about peri¬≠ods and pads openly.

Mashiyat; Vulvani; Resurgence Period; Women Deliver 2019; sanitary napkins; Menstruationsbinden; Damenbinden; period pads; pads; menstruation pads; Slipeinlagen

Photo Credits: Mashiyat

Mashiyat; Vulvani; Resurgence Period; Women Deliver 2019; sanitary napkins; Menstruationsbinden; Damenbinden; period pads; pads; menstruation pads; Slipeinlagen

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

I never recei¬≠ved for¬≠mal edu¬≠ca¬≠tion about mens¬≠trua¬≠tion. My first con¬≠ver¬≠sa¬≠tion about peri¬≠ods was when I was nine years old. It was with my friends at school, when one of our friends sud¬≠denly got her first period. Back then, we had no idea what peri¬≠ods were. We just thought she was inju¬≠red or had some kind of dise¬≠ase. She was rus¬≠hed to the toi¬≠let by one of our tea¬≠chers, who later sent her home. The tea¬≠cher later infor¬≠med us that all women have this ‚Äėred pee‚Äô inci¬≠dent when they become adults. 

Almost two years later I pro¬≠perly found out about peri¬≠ods through exten¬≠sive Google searches.

3. Tell us a little about your first period. Did you use pads?

When I was ele¬≠ven years old I had my first period. I was not expec¬≠ting it at all, so when I woke up in bed one morning and saw blood on my she¬≠ets, I thought I was about to die. Screa¬≠ming for help, I ran to my mom, pani¬≠cking about having ‚Äėcan¬≠cer‚Äô. She pani¬≠cked a little as she was so unpre¬≠pa¬≠red for the moment. She immedia¬≠tely taught me how to use win¬≠ged pads. But still she did not tell me what peri¬≠ods were, so I remai¬≠ned very con¬≠fu¬≠sed until I deci¬≠ded to enlist help from the internet.

4. How do you feel about your own menstruation?

I have always hated and drea¬≠ded get¬≠ting my period. This fee¬≠ling has not at all chan¬≠ged over the years. In fact, it‚Äôs got¬≠ten worse as I am now expe¬≠ri¬≠en¬≠cing sym¬≠ptoms of PCOS. My peri¬≠ods some¬≠ti¬≠mes come with extreme mood swings, so I never look for¬≠ward to them. This has not¬≠hing to do with shame though; I love being a woman and am at peace with my body. I just do not like the fee¬≠ling of blee¬≠ding con¬≠stantly and fea¬≠ring leaks (I des¬≠pise having to wash the blood off she¬≠ets, clothes, and/or under¬≠wear, espe¬≠cially when the stains are hard to get rid of).

5. Which menstrual products other that pads have you already tried?

I have never used any pro¬≠ducts other than pads. Because of the lack of access to tam¬≠pons and mens¬≠trual cups in Ban¬≠gla¬≠desh, I never ended up try¬≠ing them gro¬≠wing up. Now, I have an irra¬≠tio¬≠nal fear when it comes to try¬≠ing them, which I am slowly try¬≠ing to get over.

Mashiyat; Vulvani; Resurgence Period; Women Deliver 2019; sanitary napkins; Menstruationsbinden; Damenbinden; period pads; pads; menstruation pads; Slipeinlagen

Photo Credits: Mashiyat

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

During my peri¬≠ods I have quite a few mood swings. I try to design my days in ways that can keep me rela¬≠tively pro¬≠duc¬≠tive. Still, I do have a ten¬≠dency to give in to food cra¬≠vings, which vary from month to month. What I abso¬≠lutely don‚Äôt like while mens¬≠trua¬≠ting is swea¬≠ting or fee¬≠ling sweaty. That is making mens¬≠trua¬≠tion in the sum¬≠mer par¬≠ti¬≠cu¬≠larly more annoying.

7. How are you feeling when menstruating?

My fee¬≠lings vary a lot from month to month, and they depend a lot on my period flow. On mon¬≠ths when my flow is ligh¬≠ter, my mood is usually a lot bet¬≠ter. I do not always have cramps, but when I do, I need to get on pain¬≠kil¬≠lers. Food items like ice cream and green tea help, as do hot water bags and/or compresses.

8. Who are you talking to about menstruation and pads?

As a mens¬≠trual health acti¬≠vist, I talk to ever¬≠yone about mens¬≠trua¬≠tion and pads. I believe that more open con¬≠ver¬≠sa¬≠ti¬≠ons and mens¬≠trual health edu¬≠ca¬≠tion can help resolve all stig¬≠mas, taboos, and mis¬≠con¬≠cep¬≠ti¬≠ons regar¬≠ding peri¬≠ods, so I always encou¬≠rage people to talk about it. There is not¬≠hing to feel shy about as it‚Äôs such a nor¬≠mal pro¬≠cess, and that‚Äôs what I want ever¬≠yone to know.

Mashiyat; Vulvani; Resurgence Period; Women Deliver 2019; sanitary napkins; Menstruationsbinden; Damenbinden; period pads; pads; menstruation pads; Slipeinlagen

Photo Credits: Mashiyat

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

Some of the men we‚Äôve tal¬≠ked to while working in Dhaka‚Äôs urban slums thought that peri¬≠ods only hap¬≠pened to ‚Äėbad‚Äô or ‚Äėimmo¬≠ral‚Äô women as a form of punish¬≠ment. This was really sho¬≠cking for me, as I had not yet rea¬≠li¬≠zed the extent of the harm that period-rela¬≠ted stig¬≠mas cau¬≠sed. The nor¬≠ma¬≠liz¬≠a¬≠tion of mens¬≠trua¬≠tion is so important! Ever¬≠yone needs to know that mens¬≠trua¬≠tion is a regu¬≠lar part of life and that there is not¬≠hing ‚Äėbad‚Äô or ‚Äėunna¬≠tu¬≠ral‚Äô causing it.

10. Want to share anything else about pads, menstruation or yourself?

I lead a social enter¬≠prise cal¬≠led Res¬≠ur¬≠gence Ban¬≠gla¬≠desh which pro¬≠du¬≠ces low-cost bio¬≠de¬≠grad¬≠able pads and advo¬≠ca¬≠tes for grea¬≠ter access to period pro¬≠ducts and edu¬≠ca¬≠tion in Ban¬≠gla¬≠de¬≠shi low-income com¬≠mu¬≠nities. We‚Äôve had the pri¬≠vi¬≠lege of working with several people on our pro¬≠jects in debun¬≠king period myths. We even have some period games that we‚Äôve deve¬≠lo¬≠ped to ease con¬≠ver¬≠sa¬≠tion. It‚Äôs important to know that peri¬≠ods are nor¬≠mal and not shame¬≠ful, so we try to make our cam¬≠pai¬≠gns fun and enga¬≠ging so that more people take part. The more you talk about it, the less room for taboos to exist!

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!

Vivien Ulm
Vivi 
Stu¬≠dent & Editor | + posts

Vivi is stu¬≠dy¬≠ing Jour¬≠na¬≠lism and Com¬≠mu¬≠ni¬≠ca¬≠tion Sci¬≠ence in the beau¬≠ti¬≠ful city of Ham¬≠burg. Since Juli she is also part of the Vul¬≠vani team in Social Media and Con¬≠tent. She usually spends her time with her favo¬≠rite acti¬≠vi¬≠ties: pro¬≠mena¬≠ding through the city with friends, bin¬≠ging series and eating/cooking some deli¬≠cious vegan food (not necessa¬≠rily in that order). She is very inte¬≠res¬≠ted in Mens¬≠trual Health and finds that there is still soooo much to learn about the human body.