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
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:
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.

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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
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.