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 let’s have a look how menstruation is seen in Spain!
Have you ever tried using five pairs of underwear to try to stop your period? No? Well Clara has! And Paula’s mom could even sense her having her first period! Clara and Paula – two different menstruators with one similarity: they both live in Spain. (Well and they have their periods!) Let’s hear about their experiences with their menstruation in Spain.
Gender / Sex: female
Country of birth: Spain
Home: Madrid, Spain
Job: CSR consultant
Age at first period: 10
Favorite period product: Menstrual cup
Cost per menstruation: Actually 1-2€. I usually use my menstrual cup, but sometimes the last day I can prefer a tampon as well.
Contraception: Anticonceptive pill
Gender / Sex: female/Cis-female
Country of birth: Spain
Home: Madrid, Spain
Job: BBA & IR
Age at first period: 13
Favorite period product: Tampons
Cost per menstruation: 7€
Contraception: Mini pill (estrogen)
How is menstruation seen in your family, culture and in Spain in general?
Paula: It’s seen like a natural thing.
Clara: It has become something more normalised in Spain (i.e. menstruators don’t feel obliged to “hide” a pad or other period product when we need to go to the toilet), but it’s still something seen as “disgusting” by men.
How and by whom were you educated about menstruation in Spain?
Paula: By my mum. She talked to me about the period a few months before my first one. She knew I was near to that special moment and she wanted to be sure, that I was fine and acquainted.
Clara: I was 13, so just when I had my first period. Actually, I didn’t even know what it was until I had it. From there I have investigated by myself, I’ve always been very interested in sex education.
How was your first period?
Paula: I knew what it was as soon as I realized my panties were stained. I used a commercial pad and I needed almost a year until I was able to use a tampon in a summer camp.
Clara: I was at school, and I didn’t know what it was. When I arrived home I told my mom and she explained to me what it was and taught me how to use a pad. I told my friends, and soon after they also began having their first periods.
How do you feel about your own menstruation?
Paula: I always felt of my menstruation as something very annoying. Until my friends had their menstruation, I felt very embarrassed. Nowadays, I’m more conscious about my body, my feelings and my pains caused by my periods. And I acknowledge it as a symbol of health, and I love that now.
Clara: It has always been something painful and irregular, that’s why I take contraceptive pills. Now it is fine, it is “controlled” and something I don’t hate, which is a huge step.
Which menstrual products have you already tried?
Paula: Pads, tampons, and a menstrual cup (my favorite right now). I prefer the menstrual cup because it’s more sustainable and respectful with my body and time. I can use it for a longer time and I feel very safe using it. Nevertheless, I recognize that sometimes it’s a bit more difficult. You need to get used to it and you need to be patient until you feel really comfortable with it.
Clara: I have used pads and tampons, so I’d say I’m quite basic. I’d like to try the menstrual cup, I’ll get it for next month!
What do you like to do when on your period?
Paula: Some days I feel more plump and I try to be more at home, quietly. And I don’t have sex during my periods, but I recognize it is more because of my partner than a personal decision.
Clara: I allow myself to cry, because I get very sensitive. So I think the best thing is to let it all out.
How are you feeling when menstruating? What kind of food, tips or home remedies help you with menstrual discomfort?
Paula: I think I don’t have any special remedy.
Clara: I feel sad and paranoid, that everyone is mad at me … I don’t have period pain that much anymore thanks to the pill, but before it was awful (I would even faint). Warm teas help me a lot, as well as having a hot water bottle.
Who are you talking to about menstruation in Spain?
Paula: Usually nobody. I suppose it’s not a topic on the table.
Clara: I don’t talk about my period that much with anyone, it is so normal for me that it isn’t worth a comment usually.
Do you have a particular funny, embarrassing or important story about menstruation in Spain?
Paula: Not really.
Clara: When I got my period at first, I didn’t know how to deal with it and my mom wasn’t present, so I decided to put on five pairs of underwear to try to be safe. You can imagine … I wasn’t and I bled everywhere 🙁
Now you’ve heard Clara’s and Paula’s stories about their periods. They told us, they don’t talk a lot about their periods and that it is normally not really talked about. But just by telling us about their experiences about menstruation in Spain, they have come a step closer to being more open about their menstruation. Because the best thing we can do to break the period stigma, is talk openly about it! You want to learn how to do that? Then check out Ailsa’s article!
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!