Why are we scared of period blood? People with periods will experience around 450 periods in their lifetime. They will use around 11000 disposable period products (less if you try reusables). And will leak through many many pairs of underwear (As someone who has done this many times in many different locations I understand how much of a pain it can be). Period blood remains the main image of periods. But what are our attitudes to period blood?
Let’s start with Period Leaks
Period leaks are normal. We have all experienced them. We all have our ‘nightmare leak’ stories. My most memorable is leaking when travelling abroad. I had walked the length of the plane to get to the bathroom before my mum chased after me letting me know I had leaked. Looking at my trousers in the bathroom mirror felt like a scene from Carrie. Now, I know leaks are a pain and I am not even going to try to deny that. Leaks can feel embarrassing. Yes, I was super embarrassed on that plane journey. Even more recently I have felt the stress of thinking I have leaked in public. It is tricky to get out of the mindset that leaks are something we should be ashamed of and that does not make me a strong confident woman.
Our attitudes to leaks are changing however. I know for me, although I do not want to leak in public (personal choice), I would not be as horrified if it happened. Leaks are talked about more, they are depicted in the media, we even laugh at them sometimes. Our attitudes are definitely less polarised than previously, however I think period blood remains icky to many.
Is it just all blood?
To start I thought I would discuss the fact that as humans, many of us are freaked out by any bodily liquid. We are not the best at coping with blood in general so perhaps that is the root of the problem?
Although this is likely to be tied in, there is a whole other layer to the stigma surrounding period blood. For one, periods themselves are not the most openly discussed topic. Our journey to become more open minded about periods is a recent history and we still have steps to go.
It still blows my mind that period product advertisements were banned on TV and radio until 1972. However, it was not until 1985 that none other than Courtney Cox (Monica from Friends) faced the newest Tampax advertisement where she braved the word ‘PERIOD’ for the first time. The FIRST TIME.
No wonder we have an issue with period blood. Periods are only now becoming more visible and accepted within popular culture.
Advertisements for period products have famously avoided any mention or image of period blood. Using the classic ‘blue liquid’ animation instead. Thankfully, steps are being taken to stop the blue washing of period blood. Bodyform launched its campaign ‘Blood Normal’ in 2017, showing not only real blood on a pad but also lots of other references to period blood. The video ends with a call to make showing period blood more normal. Campaigns such as this that we are clearly taking steps in the right direction but there is not enough of them. Periods remain a silent topic surrounded by secrecy and misconceptions.
The rise of reusable period products
The rise of reusable period products has shown that we are becoming more comfortable with our own period blood. Menstrual cups require emptying and washing and reusable pads or underwear require washing. Now most people who try reusables will explain that they are less bloody than you might think but it still demonstrates a step towards less embarrassment surrounding reusable products.
How do we keep improving our attitudes to period blood and periods?
Education is key to this debate. To feel more comfortable around periods, we all need to be given accurate information surrounding periods no matter of your gender. We need to take away the embarrassment and we need to talk about the social side of periods not just the biological. In 10 years time I hope to be writing that period stigma has almost entirely gone. Learn more about Lilypads own education programme.
Sustainable gifting- a guide by Emms Choice.
Emms Choice believes we can put sustainability in all we do, working towards better choices that are healthier for us and our environment.
As the season of gifting approaches, it’s a great time to talk about sustainable gifting. After a year that’s been full of surprises and unexpected extremes. It’s about time we look forward to the winter season. Part of this is the excitement of receiving or giving gifts.
Buying with a conscious is so important. Spending time with people we care about often involves gifts, whether you are buying for religious celebrations, winter gifts or just because!
Lockdown has certainly given us time to reflect, to think about our impact in all we do. Travel restrictions and working from home have meant changes we’re not used to. Humans all over the globe slowed down. With this came more focus on nature, walks and we witnessed freedom for wildlife.
It’s time to re-focus our energy and thoughts and ensure we make conscious decisions in ALL we do. After all, these are our lockdown lessons and moving on in our life to a more sustainable future is much needed.
What small changes could we make?
When choosing a present for someone, moving towards sustainable gifting, refusing to go conventional and switching to more eco-friendly solutions:
- Plastic Sellotape – swap to Kraft tape.
- How about NOT sending greeting cards and not just for Christmas but for all special occasions – gift trees instead.
- Saying no to nonrecyclable wrapping paper and going for Kraft paper with jute string or a beautiful fabric gift wrap – Furoshiki style.
- Make your own gift tags with upcycled materials – get the kids involved.
- Supporting plastic free gift options – wherever possible.
- Buying gifts with an intention and purpose – not for the sake of giving something that might be wasted.
Sustainable gifting needs to go deeper – into the product, chemicals/ingredients, ethically sourced, non-toxic and then the packaging too – is it plastic free, is it reusable, can it be repurposed?
There’s never been a better Time to make SMALL changes
There are so many choices we already make and ones we control – whether intentional or because of habit. If we look to make small changes that are beneficial for us, we also move towards a non-toxic lifestyle which is healthier for us and our beautiful planet.
Isn’t it time to make OUR choices count?
We could change our habits so we’re looking after ourselves with non-toxic ingredients, reducing both waste and the negative effects on the environment AND having a positive impact on people we love and care for. These actions will reduce our carbon footprint, help us on a sustainable living journey and the act of gifting could also inspire someone else to do the same… AMAZING!
Buying gifts that are sourced ethically, support small UK businesses and aligning our buying choices with our own values is most important. This is why Emms Choice have launched a new gift collection. We also realise it’s been a tough year for so many who are far apart and want to make it easy to send someone a thoughtful, handpicked gift… send direct to them so they get a surprise plastic free package – all while supporting many small businesses and planting trees along the way!
It’s time to do what we can, how we can, whenever we can…
Emms Choice is committed to tree planting and reducing the impact of climate change while supporting independent UK businesses. We have a Limited Edition gift collection because we wanted to support even more small businesses.
The last day for orders is 15th November – see all our handpicked gift ideas online.
Will you join us in ethical, sustainable gifting this year – gifts with a conscious?
Warmest wishes sent your way for the last quarter of 2020 and beyond – stay safe, well and positive.
Founder of Emms Choice
Lilypads pads have launched and we need your help!
We cannot believe that it is November already! This month we want to give you an overview of what Lilypads have been up to. But first, we are here to ask for you help.
Lilypads are a small early startup. Therefore, we are looking for lots of feedback.
So our question is can you help us do that? Our first customers are super important to help us learn and develop our pads and processes. Your feedback is invaluable.
Option 1 (Bronze medal)
Leave a review here. It will take less than 2 minutes and we will love you forever.
Option 2 (Silver medal)
Fill out this form about your experience of trying the pads. If you loved your experience you will receive 10% off your next order and if you did not we will send you a chocolate bar as an apology.
Option 3 (Gold medal)
Sign up for a chat with one of our team here to chat through your thoughts and answer some questions. It will take no more than 30 minutes, will be over the phone and completely anonymous.
Be a Lilypads social media babe
Lilypads are continuing to grow our social media presence but we need your help. We pride ourselves on our pads being for real people and we love to hear real stories from our customers. We would be so grateful if you could share your pictures of your pads arriving on social media and your thoughts or stories on our pads. Make sure to tag us @lilypads.uk and we will pic our favourite each month. The winner will receive some lovely Lilypads stickers and 10% of their next order. So get tagging!
Jealous and want to get your hands on your own pack of pads? Hate emptying the toilet rubbish bin? Hate the crinkly noise of plastic disposable pads? Do not fear our pads are now live on our website so click here to purchase your own set.
Lilypads October Happenings
October is over already, the nights and mornings are getting darker, the leaves are falling off the trees and Lilypads have been working hard. We are 2 weeks into November already and so I wanted to share with you our October Review.
What we have been up to…
- Our pads have been sent and we have been loving the photos you are sharing with us. It means so much to us to see our pads out there in the world making a real difference.
- Our new partners have received their pads. We are excited to announce new partnerships. We are so excited to keep working with them to ensure no one will be limited by their period.
- Feedback is key to us at the moment. If you want to get 10% of your next order then please sign up for short, informal phone interview here.
We are a team who love to chat. Our Lilypads weekly Book Club is providing us with great joy. Every Wednesday, our team, including volunteers and advisors (both past and present) meet (on Zoom) for book club. Our book club is focused on social causes and is a great way for us to chat outside of work, get to know each other and spark great conversations about the social causes we each care about. This month I have been reading Feminism Interrupted: Disrupting Power an amazing book about intersectional feminism. Alison has been sharing her learnings from her environmental Leith community group and Tom has been making some very insightful connections between Sci-Fi fiction and current political and social trends. If you would be interested in joining a Lilypads community where you could share your thoughts and start discussions then click here.
Lilypads Time of the week Podcast News
Our ‘Time of the Week’ podcast has reached its 10th episode already! Mhairi and Alison have been loving sitting down each week to chat about the things we care about and answer some of your questions. If you have a topic you want discussed or you want to feature on our podcast then send us an email. Our latest podcast was on the subject of gender equality have a listen here.
Period products used to be limited and restrictive. Luckily for us, there are so many new options available. The product we each prefer is unique to us and should not be a source of judgement. We often also change what products we prefer as we get older. Today, I thought I would share my thoughts on trying reusable period pads for the first time.
My product journey
So first, let me fill you in on my product history. I started my period at the age of 12 (ish) and initially used disposable pads. This is pretty common for most people to start with. However, I absolutely hated pads. My periods were so heavy and wearing a pad just made me feel like I was wearing a wet nappy. Not ideal.
So I started trying tampons, the only other product I was aware of at the time. After a few failed attempts getting it in, I succeeded at using non-applicator tampons. So that was me for the next 8 years. One thing which still bugged me was I tended to use a pad on my heaviest days along with a tampon just in case I leaked, or if I knew I was not going to be able to change it.
In my third year of University, I was introduced to cups. At a time when there was so much more information about the waste caused by disposable period products, I gave the cup and shot. It provides me the same discreet internal product I like without the waste.
Enter reusable period pads…
Reusable period pads had not entered by world until I started making them for the Lilypads student project. They seemed a little unusual to me and still gave me the fear that disposable pads did. However, it was my task to try some of the designs. So I gave them a go. Surprisingly, I did not mind them. I used them as back up pads for heavy days or nights.
A huge benefit for me is I am an insanely lazy person. I tend to forget to buy products each month and so knowing I always had a reusable pad was such a stress relief. I also felt less bad when wearing it on those days you have a feeling your period might start but doesn’t. Rather than thinking I’d wasted a disposable pad I thought protected.
Reusable pad designs
The first reusable pads I tried did the job but were still petty bulky. Trying Lilypads newest pads has been another new experience. The Lilypad is super comfy and soft- it literally feels just like underwear. Also the bulkiness of other reusable pads I have tried has been taken away. I like the little liner pads, as well as the back up pads. I tend to wear them alongside tampons or cups as extra protection or on the days before or your very final spotting days.
Am I becoming a convert to reusable period pads?
One thing which has really shocked me with trying reusable pads is they have taken away my hatred of pads. They have even made me consider wearing pads by themselves on certain days. Crazy I know. I now tend to wear them alone on my lighter days and overnight, or if I just can’t be bothered inserting the cup.
Although I hated disposable pads with a passion, reusable period pads have really opened my eyes. Not only do they save so much plastic waste, they are super comfy, they save you money, they are always in your drawer and they mean you do not need to empty the bathroom bin as much!
If you want to find out more about reusable pads read our blog on answering your questions or read more about our pads here.
Why is there still a stigma surrounding vaginal health?
We have all been there, it starts with an irritating itching sensation or discharge that doesn’t seem ‘normal’. This is followed by the awkward visit to the doctor followed by an even more awkward visit to the pharmacy to pick up the antifungal medication (without anyone knowing or seeing what it is for). It’s a mission in itself! But why do we feel embarrassed about our vaginal health and more importantly where can vulva and vagina owners get the information they deserve. We will cover more on this later in our blog.
Vaginal health education has for so long been a taboo subject. The embarrassment that comes with talking about our vaginas even to medical professionals is often linked to a lack of education. How can we feel comfortable talking about our vaginas and bodily functions if we are not taught about it in school? What should a healthy vagina feel like? Are there signs we should look out for that we may have an infection? What should we look out for in our vulvas skin colour and texture? These are all topics we should be taught in order to feel comfortable discussing when they need to. But for so many of us that was not the case and this needs to change!
Why we need to open up the conversation…
Feeling unable to talk openly about our vaginal health can also be damaging, symptoms and signs can be missed and infections can go untreated. But the mental health effects can also be far reaching as anxiety can then build and we can feel trapped in a cycle of worry about our untreated symptoms. Feeling embarrassed or uncomfortable to visit your doctor about a vaginal health issue is such a common thing. Please don’t beat yourself up or feel like you are the only one). We’ll cover some tips below on how to feel more empowered to talk openly about vaginal health.
Changing the conversation on vaginal health
If we all take that step to talk more openly about our vagina’s, the more we can change the discussion surrounding vaginal health. Instead of a conversation held in whispers and embarrassment , let’s remove some of the stigma! Its ok to talk about thrush with your best friend or to ask your doctor about some unusual discharge you might be experiencing. Remember doctors have seen it all before- honestly. And remember our vaginas are pretty amazing. We have put together some helpful tips on how to feel more empowered to discuss your vaginal health.
- If you feel like you need some specialist advice, information or even education then speaking to a gynecologist is great place to start. Gynecologists are doctors who specialize in woman’s health issues. If you feel like your regular GP is not taking your issues seriously then get a referral to your nearest clinic to see a specialist. Sometimes you can even self refer which is great. Don’t be afraid to ask those questions you might have on your vaginal health. Gynaecologists, GPs or nurses are usually very happy to chat through anything.
- Don’t ask Dr. google for medical advice! Its brilliant to look at different resources and educate yourself on your vagina but its very easy to google symptoms and get sucked into a spiral of anxiety. Always seek out the advice of a real Dr (if you need to). If you do want to check any worrying symptoms we recommend looking at the NHS website for accurate information.
- If you are embarrassed or anxious to talk to your doctor about anything then a handy tip we have is to write down your symptoms or worries on a piece of paper to take to your appointment . Having them down a piece of paper means you are less likely to get flustered. Or take a friend in with you!
- We love looking at Instagram accounts like @school_sexed who post some amazing content on bodies-normalizing bodies is so important. And of course follow us @lilypads.uk – we are working hard to change the conversation on periods and our bodies so we can all feel more confident discussing those taboo subjects!
Lastly taking care of our own vaginal health can be so empowering. If you do suffer with any irritation or itching then making the switch to our reusable ,eco friendly cloth pads could make a huge difference. Shop our pads here : https://lilypads.org.uk/product-category/reusable-sanitary-pads/
Mhairi and Alison had a chat about vaginal health on their recent time of the week podcast. Stay tuned for it being posted and check out older episodes here.