About the blogger...
Gemma has nearly 20 years research experience, in both conducting and supporting research, working in the public sector and Higher Education.
She is currently supporting a project around women's health, sex and pleasure; 'The VQ Collective'. The project aims to improve knowledge and encourage discussion on the more 'taboo' areas of women's health, from menstruation to menopause, masturbation to orgasm, and everything in between!
Gemma is proud to be supporting Menstrual Hygiene Day, and believes that periods should not hold anyone back from achieving their dreams.
Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
My period has changed since I was 11, as have the products I use, and the ways I try and cope with the pain and the pre-menstrual stuff. My first period hit me in the middle of the night, and I just thought I had a really bad tummy ache – I went to wake up my mum and she came to the toilet with me. I think we both assumed I needed to be sick or something! And then we saw my pyjama bottoms... my mum cried as I was ‘grown up’... I knew what it was (thanks to Judy Blume’s ‘Are you there God? It’s me Margaret’) but was shocked as I was only 11 – ‘big girls’ get their periods, after all, not 11 year old girls! Being so young, and in primary school, I’d had no input from school on periods and I don’t recall having a talk with my mum before the actual event.Most of my limited knowledge was from books and magazines, and school playground ‘hearsay’...Anyway, I was cleaned up and given a flannel to put in my pants. My mum had a hysterectomy when she was younger, and hadn’t had a period in years, so no products were in the house. In the morning on the way to school we stopped by the supermarket to get me some pads, and I used pads for the first few years...
I continued to use a combination of tampons and pads up to the age of 40.
I’ve recently started experimenting with alternative products, like menstrual cups, reusable pads and period pants. Partly because I do want to be more environmentally friendly, partly to try to save some cash, but mainly because of my health problems. I have ulcerative colitis, and part of that includes crippling episodes of arthritis... it especially affects my hands and finger joints... so all of a sudden, using tampons became difficult again (flash back to the afternoon I spent on the toilet, age 13, determined to master the art of tampon insertion)! Sometimes I just can’t use my hands to be able to grip them and insert them. I don’t mind pads, but my medication can make me extra sweaty (especially on my period!) and then they don’t stick properly to my pants... Absolute. Pain. In. The. ****
For the record, the menstrual cup I tried was also an utter nightmare – arthritic hands, and cup removal, do not go well together at all... I’ll leave the rest up to your imagination...if you’ve ever watched the film ‘Carrie’, you’ll catch my drift...
What does work for me, at the moment, is a combination of reusable pads and period pants (OMG, period pants are the best thing to have ever been invented).I still do use tampons for certain activities, arthritis permitting.