Men­stru­ation Around the World is a 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. And maybe soon we will all be talk­ing more openly our peri­ods in Ire­land and every­where else around the world.

Eimíle, Anna Marie and Niamh – three dif­fer­ent men­stru­at­ors from the same coun­try: Ire­land. How do they exper­i­ence their men­stru­ation? Are there sim­il­ar­it­ies? Did they grow up with the same men­strual edu­ca­tion? And how are peri­ods in Ire­land talked about? Let’s get to know them and find out!

Per­sonal Information

Name: Eimíle
Age: 27
Gender / Sex: female
Coun­try of birth: Ire­land
Home: Dub­lin, Ire­land
Degree: BSc. Psy­cho­logy, Research
Age at first period: 12
Favor­ite period product: I use pads.
Cost per men­stru­ation: 5 €
Con­tra­cep­tion: Fer­til­ity aware­ness and Withdrawal

Per­sonal Information

Name: Anna Marie
Age: 25
Gender / Sex: female
Coun­try of birth: Ire­land
Home: Dub­lin, Ire­land
Job: Research and Policy Officer
Age at first period: 16
Favor­ite period product: Pads
Cost per men­stru­ation: 20 €
Con­tra­cep­tion: None

Per­sonal Information

Name: Niamh
Age: 28
Gender / Sex: female
Coun­try of birth: Ire­land
Home: Kerry, Ire­land
Job: Teacher
Age at first period: 12
Favor­ite period product: Men­strual cup and Tam­pons
Cost per men­stru­ation: 4€
Con­tra­cep­tion: Pill

How is hav­ing peri­ods in Ire­land seen?

Eimíle: It is not openly talked about, but it is talked about more than it used to be. There are four men­stru­at­ors in my fam­ily. And I would be the most open about it in my family.

Anna Marie: Peri­ods in Ire­land are some­thing to try to hide.

Niamh: Get­ting my period was some­thing I was very uncom­fort­able talk­ing about as a young teen­ager. It wasn’t really spoken about at home. As I got older I star­ted talk­ing about peri­ods with my friends. Peri­ods in Ire­land are in my exper­i­ence not very well edu­cated to people. Not-men­stru­at­ing people are not included in the con­ver­sa­tion. And some men­stru­at­ing people can still be very private about their menstruation.

How and by whom were you edu­cated about menstruation?

Eimíle: I got my first period-talk from my mother when I was eleven. I felt very shocked. Never before had I heard of peri­ods, I felt so confused.

Anna Marie: I was edu­cated about peri­ods by my mother.

Niamh: Early on there was very little edu­ca­tion about period in Ire­land. A lot of it was self-learned and intu­it­ive. My first men­strual edu­ca­tion was prob­ably when I was 14 in  bio­logy in school. It was very basic and stuck to the ‘sci­entific’ facts. I felt embar­rassed and lack­ing in know­ledge. Later on, when I was maybe 16 or 17, I shared my exper­i­ences with my friends.

Tell us a little about your first period!

Eimíle: It happened at my 12th birth­day in a bath­room stall in a shop­ping centre and I didn’t tell any­one. I felt so embar­rassed I got it on my birth­day and in gen­eral. It felt like I was the only one who had it. I just used wads of toi­let paper to cre­ate a make­shift pad. It wasn’t until my second period when I told my mother.

Anna Marie: My first period I got at a Hal­loween slee­p­over. Not at all pre­pared, but lucky that it was a light flow. I knew what it was because I was quite old get­ting it. But still I was too afraid to ask for help. And I was slightly ter­ri­fied I was dying!

Niamh: I got my first period in primary school. At the begin­ning I was very excited, but I was not very pre­pared and didn’t tell anyone.

How do you feel about your own men­stru­ation? Has the feel­ing changed?

Eimíle: I feel happy to get my period as I feel that I’m healthy and my body is working.

Anna Marie:I’m more Lib­eral talk­ing about it in front of oth­ers. I get extreme pain and cramps in my first two days, so I’m done hid­ing it and pre­tend­ing that I’m fine.

Niamh: Yes, I feel much more open and pos­it­ive about it now and love talk­ing about it! Although as I am on the pill I do not exper­i­ence a true period.

Which men­strual products have you already tried?

Eimíle: I tried tam­pons and pads. Ideally I prefer tam­pons but I’m so afraid of TSS since I’ve heard hor­ror stor­ies so I’ve stopped using them (even though I know stat­ist­ic­ally the chances are very low). I ordered period under­wear from Thinxx recently, so hope­fully they’ll be my new favour­ite. I am really look­ing for­ward to try­ing them!

Anna Marie: Pads only. I tried tam­pons but it wouldn’t work for me. In the last year I star­ted using reusable fab­ric pads which have greatly reduced waste!

Niamh: I dis­like pads, they are messy, feel unclean and leak. As a teen­ager I used tam­pons as I was very sporty and they were more reli­able and com­fort­able. Again, most of this I just figured out myself. But now I mostly use a men­strual cup. I found out about cups by talk­ing with my friends. They are envir­on­ment­ally friendly, com­fort­able and don’t leak.

What do you like to do when you have peri­ods in Ireland?

Eimíle: I go about my busi­ness as usual. Per­haps I drink more tea and have more bedtime.

Anna Marie: I dread my period because of the effect it has on me phys­ic­ally. I have meds now, but before them I would miss work or school seven to eight days a year because of my period.

Niamh: I don’t have any­thing spe­cific that I do, because I don’t really have heavy peri­ods or any real symptoms.

How are you feel­ing when men­stru­at­ing? What kind of food, tips or home rem­ed­ies help you with men­strual discomfort?

Eimíle: I usu­ally feel quite a dull pain, some­times more severe than oth­ers. I take paracetamol. It also helps when I curl in a ball in bed, use a hot water bottle and drink herbal tea.

Anna Marie: Hot water bottles, pain killers, sleep, and crying 😂

Niamh: I don’t really pay much atten­tion to it now. No dis­com­fort really. I try to exer­cise and get some phys­ical activ­ity in.

Who are you talk­ing to about peri­ods in Ireland?

Eimíle: Mostly I talk to my part­ner, I can be open with him. I also inform my fam­ily or friends if I am men­stru­at­ing and am around them. If there’s any­thing out of the ordin­ary I would talk to my part­ner or gp.

Anna Marie: My doc­tor for med­ical reas­ons and my part­ner to give him insight.

Niamh: My friends, my sis­ters and my boy­friend. Men­stru­ation is a nat­ur­ally occur­ring con­ver­sa­tion and it’s a part of life.

Do you have a par­tic­u­lar funny, embar­rass­ing or import­ant story about your period in Ireland?

Eimíle: When I was in my last year of primary school (around twelve years old), I didn’t tell my mom I had my period so I had no pads and used toi­let roll. There was a box of pads in the toi­let in school so I began using these. My friends would mon­itor these and talk about how scan­dal­ous it is that some­body was using them and they talked about who they thought it was. Mean­while I played along, know­ing full well it was me (and prob­ably other girls). There was a lot of shame sur­round­ing it!

Anna Marie: It’s good to talk about peri­ods in Ire­land and every­where else in the world!

Niamh: I hate not being pre­pared for my period and not hav­ing products.

Do you have any advice you want to share?

Eimíle: Talk to your doc­tor about it and use a period app to track your cycle (they are respons­ible for data min­ing a lot; I find the pros out­weigh the cons here).

Anna Marie: Hav­ing your period is totally nor­mal!

Niamh: Your period is not just being ‘on your period’ and ‘not on your period’. It is a cycle and can also have pos­it­ive impact on your life. A great indic­ator of health.

As we can see, even in Ire­land, men­stru­ation is still a taboo topic that should remain on the daily list of issues. For men­stru­ation to be nor­mal­ized and edu­cated, we need more people to talk openly about it, like Eimíle, Anna Marie and Niamh. So let’s talk about it together in the comments!

In ‘Men­stru­ation around the world‘ you will not only find stor­ies about peri­ods in Irle­land, but also from Nam­i­bia, Brazil, Lebanon and many more great places.

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!

Vivien Ulm
Vivi 
Stu­dent & Editor | + posts

Vivi is study­ing Journ­al­ism and Com­mu­nic­a­tion Sci­ence in the beau­ti­ful city of Ham­burg. Since Juli she is also part of the Vul­vani team in Social Media and Con­tent. She usu­ally spends her time with her favor­ite activ­it­ies: prom­en­ad­ing through the city with friends, binging series and eating/cooking some deli­cious vegan food (not neces­sar­ily in that order). She is very inter­ested in Men­strual Health and finds that there is still soooo much to learn about the human body.