Finally, a candid conversation about periods. We get it. Periods are personal. Choosing empowerment over embarrassment, we’re here to give a real-life lesson on menstrual cycles and our bodies. And what better way to do that than from hearing stories about periods from our colleagues, friends and people we have met on this incredible journey. So join us as we talk about- yep, you guessed it - periods. #leaveyourstain
Who are you (we’d love to get to know you!) and what are your pronouns?
I’m Rachael Newton (she/her) and I am the founder of nixit. Nixit was founded on a mission to end the stigma about periods and I’m so excited to be starting this series where we can have normal conversations with people about their periods.
How did you first learn about periods?
I remember this so vividly. I had a small amount of time left at home before starting at boarding school and I had crawled into bed with my mother to get in as many hugs as I could before I left. We were chatting about this and that and she told me that my ‘country cousin’ might come to visit me once a month. I remember not understanding what on earth she was talking about until she explained how I would bleed once a month and that she was sending me with some sanitary pads to school. After she showed me how to use them, we packed them in my school trunk and they got unpacked and repacked for many terms after that!
Do you remember your first period conversation? Who was it with and what was that like?
I still find the way my mum told me and the terminology she used quite funny. She grew up in Asia and there is a lot of cultural baggage associated with periods - this was the way she felt comfortable telling me about periods. I understand that now but for years I found the country cousin reference very strange. Of course, once I got to school and people started getting periods, it was all that we could talk about!
When did you get your first period?
I didn’t get my period until I was around 13. Most of my friends had had their periods by then. I loved swimming so I was happy that I didn’t have it yet as most people would sit out lessons when they had their periods (although some people who weren’t that keen on swimming had periods that lasted far longer than a week!).
How was it? What happened?
I was at boarding school and I remember waking up in my dorm room and making my way to the freezing cold toilets in the corridor outside. I pulled my knickers down and there was SO MUCH BLOOD. So much. It was everywhere and I was so scared. It took me a while to register what had happened. All I wanted to do was speak to my mother. My supply of pads had all been used up by all my friends who already had their periods and had asked me for backups. I found my best friend and she got me sorted out and then she came with me to call my mum and tell her.
It was not a happy day for me - I was so shocked by how much blood there was (still am tbh!) and I just wanted my mum. I still remember standing at the payphone and sobbing down the line at her. I don’t remember what she said but I remember putting down the phone feeling a lot better.
Later that day I had a swimming race to compete in so I went to our sports captain to tell her I couldn’t swim as I had just got my period. She told me I would just have to use a tampon as there was no-one to take my place. I told her that I didn’t think I could - I mean I had literally started that day. She told me I didn’t have a choice. A friend took me to the bathroom and stood in the cubicle next to me talking me through how to insert one. I pretty much got it half in and then swam the race with an extremely soggy tampon hanging out of me. It was a while before I tried using a tampon again.
Do you try to take extra care of yourself while on your period? If so, how?
I am a big proponent of cycle tracking. Once I started using nixit I started paying so much more attention to my flow and that naturally led me to start tracking my cycle. When I know it’s coming I make sure to drink lots of water and get a good sleep in and I also try not to be too hard on myself if my gym performance isn’t great or I’m not in the best of moods.
What are your favourite period products?
I think this one is obvious 😅
Is there anything else about your period experiences you want to share?
Looking back, I have a lot of memories associated with periods that aren’t good. At school we used to call it ‘The Curse’. That’s not going to make you look forward to your period, is it? If I argued with my brother, his teenage reaction would be to tease me that I had PMS. It’s time to break the cycle of thinking about periods as something bad or a reason to belittle someone. I love this recent trend of moon parties to celebrate when someone gets their period - periods should be recognised and acknowledged as the remarkable process that they are! We have come a long way, and we can do a lot more.
Have the last challenging months affected your period and if so, how did you best navigate?
During the first few months my period was late. I am extremely regular so this was a sign for me that I was very stressed. I have two small children and trying to look after them whilst running a business was extremely challenging. I know many people are in the same boat. I’m happy to say that I’m now back to my regular predictable cycle - I guess my body has adjusted to the mayhem!