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.

Are you ready to finally under­stand your body & your mood swings bet­ter and learn cycle aware­ness? Then our online course "Cycle Aware­ness as a Super­power" is per­fect for you!

Zyklusbewusstein, Zyklusachtsamkeit, Online-Kurs, Onlinekurs, im Einklang leben, Stephanie Schäper, Koasdesign Studio, Stimmungsschwankungen verstehen, Kraft des Zyklus, Zykluswissen, Menstruationszyklus, Selbstfürsorge Menstruation, Innere Jahreszeiten, Zyklusphasen, Vulvani, Vulvani Academy

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!

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.