Men­stru­ation around the world is a new series from Vul­vani that seeks to show the diversity of men­strual exper­i­ences around the world. We por­tray people from dif­fer­ent coun­tries with their per­sonal stor­ies. Let’s explore the won­der­ful and diverse world of men­strual exper­i­ences together. I am very happy to start the new series with an excit­ing first interview.

SJ is from the United States and the times when he had his men­stru­ation are finally over thanks to tak­ing testoster­one. He talks to us about peri­ods as a trans­man. Many, many thanks for your open­ness and your stor­ies, dear SJ!

Per­sonal Information

Name: SJ
Age: 33
Gender / sex: male / bio­lo­gic­ally born as a woman
Home: Lafay­ette, Indi­ana, USA
Stud­ies: Mas­ters in Higher Edu­ca­tion
Job: Immig­ra­tion coun­selor at a col­lege
Age at first period: 11
Favour­ite period product: Tam­pon
Cost per men­stru­ation: around 5 US-Dol­lar
Con­tra­cep­tion method: Steril – no chance

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

‘In my fam­ily, we were really open about talk­ing about it, but that was mostly because my mater­nal grand­mother gave no dir­ec­tion to my mother on what to do and how to do it. So she was bound to make sure I was know­ledge­able. Over­all though I feel like our coun­try wants to act like women have a men­strual cycle is a very private thing. Addi­tion­ally, men with a men­strual cycle makes you auto­mat­ic­ally not a man any many people’s eyes.’

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

‘My mother was very open about buy­ing me pads and would talk all the time. We have two dif­fer­ent view points on her edu­ca­tion of tam­pons. Which I actu­ally didn’t start using until col­lege. I mostly never wanted to talk about my men­strual cycle, because I just didn’t relate to my gender sur­round­ing it.’

3. Talk a little about your first period.

‘I remem­ber not under­stand­ing exactly what was hap­pen­ing, and I sud­denly felt very fainty and high anxi­ety. I actu­ally recall going to the nurse and she said I looked “white and ghostly” and allowed me to call home stat­ing I was “sick”. My dad actu­ally picked me up and handled it like a champ, stopped and got me some pads and told me to try and put some heat on it.’

4. How do you feel about your own menstruation?

‘I actu­ally hated hav­ing it and had so much dys­phoria around it. Tak­ing testoster­one has stopped my men­stru­ation and I’ve had a full hysto so I no longer have to worry about.’

5. Which men­strual products have you already tried?

‘Pads and tam­pons. Was always curi­ous about the cup, but never tried it.’

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

‘I rarely ever allowed my period to stop me in doing any­thing. I do recall in some heavy bleed­ing times that I just felt wiped out and would take some advil etc and passout.’

7. What kind of food or home rem­ed­ies helps you with men­strual discomfort?

‘On really bad times I would load up on ibupro­fen and heat and sleep. Chocol­ate always comforted.’

8. Who are you talk­ing to about menstruation?

‘Funny, its one of the first ques­tions I get when I talk about being trans, “so you don’t have a period any­more? Lucky!” But wife still has cycles, so she will touch base when she is feel­ing low or I want to get it on and if she is in on her period we usu­ally go for more mas­sages and less inter­course. Addi­tion­ally my daugh­ter in the 5th grade so we had our first dis­cus­sion about it this year, that its on the horizon.’

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

‘Actu­ally yes, I was play­ing bas­ket­ball in high school dur­ing a sec­tional tour­na­ment game, was a 9th grader play­ing on varsity. We had a term espe­cially when we wore our white jer­seys that if you had spot­ting on your uni­form to yell “code orange” (because code red appar­ently was too obvi­ous, lol). So we are in heat of the game and I am stand­ing in front of our bench and one my team­mates yells “Hou­s­ton, code orange, code orange!” I lit­er­ally for­get everything I am sup­posed to be doing and travel with the bas­ket­ball caus­ing a turnover. Being a fresh­man our coach imme­di­ately pulls me out to yell at me, but I high tail it the locker room to change my shorts and put on a pad. He is per­plexed on where I went and the assist­ant female coach turns and tells him and he shakes her off. Fast for­ward to prac­tice to dis­cuss the game and we are watch­ing film and our coach cov­ers that moment, and is like ” oh ya here is when Hou­s­ton had code orange, we will just move on” All of the other girls thought it was awe­some that our coach even knew what “code orange” was, mean­while I was mortified.’

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

‘As a trans­man I think this is so import­ant, just because you have a period doesn’t make you any less of a man. As a par­ent, I feel the shame already sur­round­ing my daugh­ter as she talks about poten­tially hav­ing a period and what that means. I try to change the nar­rat­ive but would like to see it change as a whole soci­ety. Import­ant work you are doing!’

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.