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 jour­ney towards embra­cing your period together.

Mara lives in Mad­rid, Spain, but was born and raised in Brazil. In this inter­view she takes us along, in a very hon­est way, on her long jour­ney towards more self-accept­ance, love and embra­cing your period. Dear Mara, thank you from the bot­tom of my heart for your open­ness and the great interview!

Per­sonal Information

Name: Mara
Age: 25
Gender / Sex: Woman
Coun­try of birth: Brazil
Home: Mad­rid, Spain
Degress + Job: Cre­at­ive woman
Age at first period: 12
Favor­ite period product: Men­strual cup
Cost per men­stru­ation: Seven years ago I paid the equi­val­ent of 20 euros for a men­strual cup
Con­tra­cep­tion: Per­cep­tion of fer­til­ity and condom

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

I grew up until the age of 10 in a very simple cul­ture and in the coun­tryside where I did not know about men­stru­ation,. Until the age of 10 I did not even know that it exis­ted. Nor in the fol­low­ing years was there any talk of men­stru­ation, either about the body or about sexu­al­ity, it was some­thing totally taboo. To this day in my fam­ily I see that it is some­thing that is totally treated as taboo. Per­haps because it is a very rural cul­ture, where most people, includ­ing women, have not had any access to cul­ture or edu­ca­tion. A closed cul­ture lost in time, where the body and sexu­al­ity are not some­thing to talk about. I think that in gen­eral in Brazil, men­stru­ation is as taboo as sexu­al­ity itself.

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

What I learned about men­stru­ation was in schools, but I have few memor­ies of classes on repro­duc­tion and sexu­al­ity. When I was a child I heard that the day I bled, no one should know, nor could I let men per­ceive that I was bleed­ing. That was part of a viol­ent cul­ture, where bleed­ing was already a reason to be raped.

3. Tell us a little about your first period.

My first period was hor­rible. I was no longer liv­ing with my bio­lo­gical fam­ily. At 10 I was adop­ted by a lady, who actu­ally treated me as a domestic employee. But speak­ing of this day, I was liv­ing in a com­munity in Rio De Janeiro, I had just turned 12 years. It was August 22, 2008, I had turned 12 on July 28. In the house I lived in, there was a lack of water and I needed to go to the bath­room, so I went to my little friend Amanda’s house. When I took off my clothes and saw the little blood­stain, I felt des­pair, fear, shame, and a sense of aban­don­ment. I remem­ber ask­ing Amanda not to tell any­one, and before I could go out­side, Amanda was scream­ing at every­one that I had bled. I felt betrayed, then every­one knew that I was already a “woman”, every­one without excep­tion, and for the first time I felt viol­ated without being touched. 

When I took off my clothes and saw the little blood­stain, I felt des­pair, fear, shame, and a sense of abandonment.’

4. How do you feel about your own menstruation?

Today I made peace with my blood, with myself and with my wounds, caused by a miso­gyn­ist and viol­ent cul­ture. Over the past few years I have approached and healed myself through my blood. In the last 6 years, I have rees­tab­lished a peace­ful and lov­ing rela­tion­ship with my men­strual blood. Today I love being a woman. I love hav­ing the aware­ness that I have today with my body and my bleed­ing, feel every month as this pro­cess occurs to finally bleed is some­thing very pre­cious. I believe that a woman can only live totally in peace when she can estab­lish a peace­ful and lov­ing rela­tion­ship with her blood and her body.

Photo credit: Mara

5. Which men­strual products have you already tried?

Before I star­ted using the cup I used a dis­pos­able pad. 

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

I usu­ally paint, some­times using my blood, some­times I put it on the plants or some­times I talk to it and thank it for being there, I like to touch it and feel it.

I feel the little dance in the uterus, but it is some­thing totally smooth.’

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7. How are you feel­ing when menstruating? 

I’m a very lucky woman, I have no phys­ical com­plaints. I feel the little dance in the uterus, but it is some­thing totally smooth. The only thing you notice at each cycle is the move on an emo­tional level. 

8. Who are you talk­ing to about menstruation?

I talk about men­stru­ation these days with every­one, because one of my greatest wishes is that men­strual blood be treated nat­ur­ally and without any kind of taboo. 

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

Once I met a guy, I invited him to my house and as I thought, we should have sex… until I asked him about my paint­ings, if he could ima­gine what they were made of and he answered no. When I told him, he answered: How dis­gust­ing. I quickly told him, get dressed and get out of my house. Until today, the boy does not under­stand why. Obvi­ously, I would never, these days, have sex with a boy who tells me that he is dis­gus­ted by blood. And I never saw him again, even though he wrote to ask me what had happened, I just told him: think.

Photo credit: Mara

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

I think to change the world, we’re going to have to change a lot of things. Start­ing with break­ing any taboos about the body, the female body mainly. I think it is very import­ant to teach our girls the power within, and then maybe we will grow very aware of the power within that we have, being at peace with our world will be the most import­ant revolution. 

‘Being at peace with our world, will be the most import­ant revolution.’

Photo credit: Mara

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
Co-Founder Vul­vani | | 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.