On May 28 is World Men­stru­ation Day, so let’s cel­eb­rate peri­ods today! From a period per­spect­ive, the date is easy to explain: An aver­age men­stru­ation lasts five days and takes place every 28 days (excep­tions con­firm the rule, because many cycles vary from these aver­age fig­ures). The NGO WASH United has ini­ti­ates this day in 2013 to draw atten­tion to the chal­lenges that people around the world face because of their men­stru­ation. The offi­cial name of the day is ‘‘Men­strual Hygiene Day’. But I per­son­ally prefer to speak of ‘World Men­stru­ation Day’, which sounds more neut­ral to me. Because the word ‘hygiene’ is more likely to have asso­ci­ations of unclean or dirty. Words that, in my opin­ion, have noth­ing to do with your period. 

The fun­da­mental prob­lem: Men­stru­ation is not talked about

Why do we actu­ally need a World Men­stru­ation Day? It is a con­tinu­ous cycle where the period is not talked about and there­fore not pri­or­it­ized in polit­ics, soci­ety or school. So the topic remains unnoticed. As long as it is not a pri­or­ity, there will be little change, research or innov­a­tion in this area. Because of the men­strual taboo, we do not learn enough about the topic and we often lack self-con­fid­ence about our own period and body. There­fore World Men­stru­ation Day is inten­ded to help in this and to draw everyone’s atten­tion to men­stru­ation. Let us cel­eb­rate our bod­ies and our peri­ods

My per­sonal hopes for World Men­stru­ation Day

My very per­sonal wish is to nor­mal­ize men­stru­ation, mean­ing that peri­ods are noth­ing to be ashamed of any­more. That the times when we go to the toi­let with a hid­den tam­pon under our sweater are finally over. I want to be part of the men­strual move­ment, do my part and cam­paign for more men­strual justice. And this is exactly why Vul­vani was born – let’s revo­lu­tion­ize the men­strual world together!

What do I wish for, for myself and periods?

  1. I hope to pro­mote a more open approach towards men­stru­ation, whether in the liv­ing room at home or at the con­fer­ence table with col­leagues. I want to make men­stru­at­ing people feel that it is good if they talk hon­estly about men­stru­ation and don’t have to pre­tend that they have stom­ach ache when they actu­ally suf­fer from men­strual prob­lems. And I hope that in the future it wouldn’t come as a shock if a men­stru­at­ing per­son had a blood stain on their pants.
  2. I hope for every men­stru­at­ing per­son to know how their own body really works and what is pos­sible through a more con­scious per­cep­tion of their own body. I know that for example free bleed­ing is not for every­one. But I think that a vari­ety of choices and innov­at­ive and sus­tain­able products are import­ant – espe­cially when it comes to man­aging your period!
  3. I hope to break the men­strual taboo with know­ledge, edu­ca­tion and ana­lysis. I would like to give thought-pro­vok­ing impulses instead of pre­tend­ing to have uni­ver­sal solu­tions. My mes­sage is not that from now on all men­stru­at­ing people have to choose a cer­tain men­strual method or love their peri­ods. My mes­sage is rather that every men­stru­at­ing per­son should feel safe and empowered enough to make the best choice for them­selves and accept their own body as it is.

World Men­stru­ation Day: Every­one has to participate 

We all have to learn to see men­stru­ation as some­thing nor­mal and to talk about it openly. The annual World Men­stru­ation Day is inten­ded to help us do this. The most import­ant thing is that as many dif­fer­ent people as pos­sible act­ively take part in dis­cus­sions about men­stru­ation and thus con­sciously break the silence taboo. It is import­ant that dif­fer­ent per­spect­ives, exper­i­ences and opin­ions are given a voice. This is the only way to enable all men­stru­at­ing people to man­age their peri­ods nor­mally. The first step to break the stigma is to use words like men­stru­ation or period and not one of the over 5000 syn­onyms. Because men­stru­ation is not a bad word. On the con­trary: let’s make it a beau­ti­ful word that we enjoy say­ing. Because we don’t have to use any play­ful terms, such as straw­berry week, shark week or cherry time. So let’s all say it once together very loudly PERIOD. Not so bad, right?

Britta Wiebe, period education, Vulvani
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.