Heavy Flow: Sophie, 41

IN This series WE WILL BE SHARING OUR READERS SUBMISSIONS ON HEAVY PERIODS. OUR AIM IS HIGHLIGHT THE EXPERIENCES AND SITUATIONS OF THOSE WHO HAVE HEAVY FLOWS (MENORRHAGIA)
THIS WEEK Sophie Shares her experience of how heavy periods can get in the way of everyday events, as well as much more joyous occasions, which led to her eventual diagnosis of Fibroids. Sophie also details her early struggles with period poverty.
Entry into Womanhood 

My first period, I was 11-12. I sat on the toilet, looked down and saw Red – I screamed. My dad, mum, sister and cousins all came at the door. My mum took me aside and very gently, explained the process of womanhood and suggested for me not to freak out. From then, I have always had heavy and painful periods. It has not ceased and over the past three years it has worsened.

toilet period

Illustration by: CELINA PARENTE

Night and Day 

The second and third night of my period, I wake up every 3 hours to change. This is despite the super plus tampon and night pad. If i fail to do so, the blood streams through to my mattress. To avoid this, my mind wakes me – usually from a dream where I’m drowning or being surrounded by a large body of water, and to the bathroom I go.

In the daytime, as a social worker, I visit service users in their home. I try to stay in the office during the first 3 days, but it’s not always possible. I have had what I call ‘incidents’. I have also sat in heated meetings, hoping there will not be a blood stain on the chair once I stand up.

Three years ago, I went on a camping trip. As I got on to the Eurostar, my period came early. I have memories of going for breakfast with my bloodstained PJs on, I wore my jumper around my waist to disguise the stains. That was a wake up call and decided to see my GP about it.

I was diagnosed with Fibroids, I am informed that  1 in 3 women develop this condition throughout their lifespan. I was prescribed Mefenamic Acid mainly to lower blood loss – it worked partially.

compare-uf_fibroids-101_types_12oct2015

There was another occasion, last year when one of my best friends got married. When I received the wedding invite, the first thought,as always was, ‘I hope I won’t be on’. Thankfully I was not. It was not so much the logistics of being near toilet facilities that was anxiety provoking. It was the prospect of being bloated and having to reconsider outfit choices.

Creativity in Poverty 

The biggest impact my heavy periods have had on my lifestyle was when I could not afford sanitary products. Those were the days I was stealing toilet paper from work – I was so broke. I was ashamed, I wished I could have disappeared from planet earth.

On reflection, I recognise that us woman are a creative bunch when it comes to our period and how not to draw attention to it.

I look back on my experiences and have thoughts of having a YouTube channel tutorial on DIY period items to support women, who like I once did,  experience period poverty.

period poverty

Illustration by: Emma Evelyn Speight

 

Have you ever experienced Period Poverty? Or Fibroids? If so, let us know in the comment sections, how you have managed such conditions.

Why not check out Adanna and Charmaine’s experience of Heavy Periods.

How much???

Interesting article on the Money Supermarket website. Talking about the cost of a period, where to buy cheap sanitary products (pads, tampons & cups) and where to get help if you are struggling to pay for your products #period #menstruationmatters #periodicaldiary #period #education #cost #pinktax

Check it out

https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/family/cheap-sanitary-products/

BAME Freedom Festival #BFFest2018

We at Periodical Diary are always to collaborating with events and social initiatives that continue to strive to work on eradicating  period poverty, associated stigma and overall empowerment of women and girls.

It is wonderful that during Period Poverty Week (12th – 18th November 2018) #PEPOW2018 we will be promoting the very core of our initiative.

We are therefore excited to be speaking at BAME FEST (16th -18th Nov) on 18th November 2018 at 11:30am! We will be encouraging women to:

‘Be the free, happy and social you, on any day of the month’. 

This initiative, incubated by Do it Now Now the Africa focused social impact consultancy, funded by Purpose, in support of Raise the Roof Kenya, is an effort to ignite activism in the BAME community in the UK and energise them to help solve the problems women and girls are facing in African communities.

Currently in Kenya, and many other places around the world, girls and women can’t afford the products they need to take care of themselves during their “time of the month”. This goes way beyond chocolate and Ben&Jerry’s.

You can purchase tickets for the three day festival here.

We look forward to seeing  you there!

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Have You Read:

What Nurses can do to eradicate Period Poverty.

Black History Month and Periods.

Independent Nurse Magazine – Period Poverty

We at Periodical Diary love  being a platform for all things Periods. From the information we share we learn so much from the Period community.  

We are now at the point where we can contribute to not only the ongoing debate regarding period poverty, but also contribute to research on the topic. 

It was therefore wonderful  to see our views made it into an Independent Nurse Nurse article on the role Nurses can play in eradicating period poverty. 

Click the link below to read the article and don’t forget to let us know your thoughts in the comment section below. 

Period_Poverty_Focus

 

period nurse

 

Before Meghan met Harry….

Like the rest of the world we watched what felt like a real life fairy tale unfold before our eyes!! 

The Guests! The wonderful Choir and of course THE DRESS!

However, before Meghan became the Duchess of Sussex… she was actually a pretty amazing Humanitarian from speaking out about Sexism at the tender age of 11 her work to promote the issue of clean water in areas such a Rwanda. 

Interestingly, Meghan penned an essay for Time Magazine  about young girls in places such as India and Africa loosing out on education once their periods started. 

Read her essay below and tell us what you think in the Comment section! 

Meghan Markle: How Periods Affect Potential

Imagine a world where the female leaders we revere never achieved their full potential because they dropped out of school at the age of thirteen. In the Western world this is challenging to fathom, but for millions of young women globally, this remains their harsh reality for a staggering reason. From sub-Saharan Africa to India, Iran, and several other countries, the stigma surrounding menstruation and lack of access to proper sanitation directly inhibit young women from pursuing an education.

Based on societal ignominy in the developing world, shame surrounding menstruation and its direct barrier to girls education remains a hushed conversation. As a result, both household dialogue and policy making discussions often leave Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) off the table. Former First Lady Michelle Obama spoke directly about this subject at the World Bank in April 2016, and various NGOs actively seek out policy reform and programming to address this concern, yet the topic remains neglected.

I traveled to Delhi and Mumbai this January with World Vision to meet girls and women directly impacted by the stigmatization of menstrual health and to learn how it hinders girls’ education. One hundred and thirteen million adolescent girls between the ages of 12-14 in India alone are at risk of dropping out of school because of the stigma surrounding menstrual health. During my time in the field, many girls shared that they feel embarrassed to go to school during their periods, ill equipped with rags instead of pads, unable to participate in sports, and without bathrooms available to care for themselves, they often opt to drop out of school entirely. Furthermore, with minimal dialogue about menstrual health hygiene either at school or home due to the taboo nature of the subject, many girls believe their bodies are purging evil spirits, or that they are injured once a month; this is a shame-filled reality they quietly endure. All of these factors perpetuate the cycle of poverty and stunt a young girl’s dream for a more prolific future.

The Indian government initiated a campaign in 2014 called “Save the Girl Child, Educate the Girl Child,” reinforcing the value of a girl’s life and her education. And while this initiative steers India closer to the Sustainable Development Goals, (specifically universal education & gender equality), the fact remains that only fifty percent of secondary schools in India have toilets, leaving roughly fifty percent of the population deterred from attending. If MHM were part of the conversation surrounding policy change, just as access to clean water and sanitation, it would push the conversation (and actualization of it) significantly further.

When a girl misses school because of her period, cumulatively that puts her behind her male classmates by 145 days. And that’s the mitigated setback if she opts to stay in school, which most do not. The latter elect to return home, increasing their subjection to dangerous work, susceptibility to being victims of violence, and most commonly, being conditioned for early childhood marriage. As a female in India, the challenge of survival begins at birth, first overcoming female feticide, then being victim to malnourishment, potentially abuse, and lack of access to proper sanitation facilities. Why, if she is able to overcome all of these challenges and finally get to school, should her education and potential to succeed, be sacrificed because of shame surrounding her period?

To remedy this problem, young girls need MHM, access to toilets, and at a most basic level, sanitary pads. Twenty-three percent of girls in India drop out of school because these factors are not at play. During my time in the slum communities outside of Mumbai, I shadowed women who are part of a microfinance system where they manufacture sanitary napkins and sell them within the community. The namesake of the organization, Myna Mahila Foundation, refers to a chatty bird (“myna”) and “mahila” meaning woman. The name echoes the undercurrent of this issue: we need to speak about it, to be “chatty” about it. Ninety-seven percent of the employees of Myna Mahila live and work within the slums, creating a system which as, Nobel Peace prize nominee Dr. Jockin Arputham shared with me, is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty and allowing access to education. In addition, the women’s work opens the dialogue of menstrual hygiene in their homes, liberating them from silent suffering, and equipping their daughters to attend school.

Beyond India, in communities all over the globe, young girls’ potential is being squandered because we are too shy to talk about the most natural thing in the world. To that I say: we need to push the conversation, mobilize policy making surrounding menstrual health initiatives, support organizations who foster girls’ education from the ground up, and within our own homes, we need to rise above our puritanical bashfulness when it comes to talking about menstruation.

Wasted opportunity is unacceptable with stakes this high. To break the cycle of poverty, and to achieve economic growth and sustainability in developing countries, young women need access to education. When we empower girls hungry for education, we cultivate women who are emboldened to effect change within their communities and globally. If that is our dream for them, then the promise of it must begin with us. Period.