Quite unsurprisingly, the world was unprepared for menstruation during a pandemic.
We’ve seen the menstrual taboo at work all over the world affecting frontline healthcare workers, menstruators living with period poverty (despite positive steps in Victoria with the Government giving menstruators in school access to free tampons and pads from late 2019) and sanitary product shortages.
As we all have felt by now, COVID-19 has dramatically changed the ways we work and live, and that can also impact our relationship with our menstrual cycle. Below are a few things to think about during this time to help you connect to your cycle and give value to your period.
Connect with your period
Your menstrual cycle might have changed in the last couple of months as your body responds to different stress levels and other adjustments you are making to your life.
You might see an opportunity in the time you have at home to feel and notice your period, and any changes that might be happening, without judgement or the usual rush. Is there something you’d like to try that you’ve never had time for before? It may be something practical or it may be something like untangling any feelings of shame or stigma that you’ve carried around but never had the opportunity to unpack. Educating yourself about your menstrual cycle can be another way to connect during this time. It could also be an opportunity to educate others and recast the conversation around periods and the whole cycle in your home.
Changing your products
Everyone seems to be more aware of the fact that using less, buying less, consuming less, can be a good thing in times like these. This may be an ideal time for you and menstruators close to you, such as your daughter, to explore some reusable products like cloth pads, menstrual cups and sea sponges. You may feel more able to try a product you’ve been curious about. Reach out to those in your community for guidance or advice on what they are doing differently. See what a period using 100% reusable products feel like.
If you’re able to work from home…
While you’re working from home there might be opportunities to live life a bit slower and to practice a bit more self care around your challenging cycle days or menopause symptoms. You might have an opportunity to adjust your routine to suit yourself. You might ask yourself, ‘What’s the opportunity for how I can care for myself?’
Make it last
If you have found positive ways to look after yourself during time away from your office and “regular schedule” think ahead to how you might continue this after everything goes back to “normal”.
Here are a few things that you could consider to reset the conversations at work around menstruation and menopause:
- Adjustments to your working hours/schedule at key cycle days
- Proposing to your organisation that it adopt a workplace menstrual wellbeing policy. You can download a template and read more here.
- Ask your organisation to complete a menopause friendly checklist of their workplace policies. Here is an example that you can download.
With the emergency of coronavirus we have been starkly reminded that there are some things that we just can’t control. As you find your own way through, one silver lining may be more time to gently focus on your health and on yourself.
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Casimira Melican is the Research & Advocacy Officer and Project Manager of About Bloody Time at the Victorian Women’s Trust and has been co-editing The Leak with Jane Bennett since April 2020. Casimira has a Masters in International Relations from the University of Melbourne with a focus on policy, human rights and international governance. In 2016, Casimira co-wrote the VWT’s menstrual and menopause workplace wellbeing policy (also know as the menstrual leave policy) and has been leading advocacy on the policy since then. Casimira is passionate about the ability for policy and research to have real world impact and empower women, trans and gender diverse individuals within our society.