ME. PERIOD CARE

Periods have always been handled with care in a public forum, but New Zealand-founded period care brand Me. is hard at work trying to dismantle some of the stigma that comes with menstruation. The concept behind the brand — with its modern aesthetic and progressive standpoint — is that period care products shouldn’t be siloed away in a drawer somewhere. Instead, their narrative is one of honesty, openness, and normalising the fact half the world’s population bleeds once a month. Me. is conscious, cool and personable — a fresh take on a sub-section of wellness that’s been otherwise left in the dark.

Me. is also focused on giving women access to products that are considered and carry less impact on the Earth. The entire product range is made from certified and sustainably-sourced 100% organic cotton and performance-based synthetic materials, while also being vegan, dermatologically tested and free from all synthetic dyes, fragrance and chlorine. All boxes are made from recyclable cardboard, while every pad and liner is even wrapped in a biodegradable sleeve — impressive for a brand that is less than a year old.

Following its recent launch into the Australian market, Me. has also partnered with athlete and model Amy Pejkovic, model Kate Wasley plus Indigenous Australian and influencer Sari-Ella Thaiday as part of the Me. Collective to talk about periods candidly. The Me. Collective is a space to facilitate conversations about periods through the lenses of health, choice, accessibility and life as a woman in general. Its goal is to be honest and empowering, and to reframe periods as something that’s not hidden, but rather normalised.

From PMS to sex (and everything in between), you can read Amy, Kate and SariElla’s thoughts below.

SARI-ELLA THAIDAY

ME. PERIOD CARE

How old where you when you experienced your first period, and how did it make you feel?

I was 13 on holiday with family. I was super embarrassed and didn’t tell anyone — my mum actually found out by accident three days later.

Who or what was it that educated and guided you about periods and the menstruation cycle initially? Did you feel equipped, or completely freaked out?

My mum told me about periods when I was 11, from memory. I didn’t like the idea of it. I wanted to prevent it from happening at all costs, but when it did happen, I didn’t freak out because l was somewhat prepared. I know girls that weren’t aware who started crying and panicking thinking something was physically wrong with them — I’m glad that wasn’t the case for me.

Has your family or culture affected your relationship with your period at all?

I don’t think my family has affected the way I think about periods. It’s usually a hush hush topic for some people, but my aunties would always talk about it! I tell my mum and sister when I need sanitary items — I think that’s a good thing, because periods are normal and people shouldn’t be feeling embarrassed about it.

How has your relationship with your period changed over the years?

The relationship has gotten better and worse at the same time. Early on in my teen years, I didn’t really know how to manage it, especially at school. I was always concerned about leaks and a lot of the time it did, mostly because I didn’t realise I needed larger pads (I was using small ones back then when I should’ve been using super).

But in saying that, I rarely experienced period pain until I got older. The pain got worse to the point where I would cry, but birth control was able to calm it down.

Have you ever experienced shame or discomfort in relation to your period?

The one time I felt a little shame over my period was when my aunty picked me up to take me shopping. I jumped in the car and felt like my period had come on. I ignored it and when we got to the shopping centre I jumped out of the car and started to walk off. My aunty stopped me as I had bled through my pants. I looked back and it wasn’t just a little, it was a lot. There was a random man walking by smiling at me, he must’ve saw. Another kid started laughing. My Aunty took me home and I went inside and cried to my mum.

Describe your cycle for us in three words: 

Angry, uncomfortable, inconvenient.

Walk us through your period routine – what does each day of your cycle look like?

Few days before: Cramping, plus I’ll feel angry and easily annoyed.

Day one: Light period, I’m usually feeling okay, not as angry, mostly comfortable because it’s light.

Day 2-4: Extremely heavy periods and a lot of cramping. I use super tampons and have to change them regularly. I poo a lot, as do most people — I don’t think that should be weird to say because that’s just what happens. I also crave really nice desserts, but I find they make me feel worse, so I like to eat light, fresh salads instead.

I go easy on exercise as well, because my regular strength and core training doesn’t feel great.

Day 5-7: My period slows down, so I’m able to get back into exercising.

Day 8: It’s all gone! Or so I I thought…

Day 9-10: More period, just when I thought it was gone. But there’s no pain, it’s just inconvenient.

My favourite product from from the Me. Period Care range would be the overnight pads. I hate bleeding through the night and staining my sheets, so overnight pads are great.

ME. PERIOD CARE

What’s your mental health like in relation to your cycle – do you find it’s impacted when you’re bleeding?

I do find that when it comes to mental health, I am a lot more upset and aggravated around the time of my period. If there are things going on in my life that have caused me distress, I find myself worrying even more than I generally would.

What’s your usual routine when it comes to managing PMS? The best management for PMS and associated symptoms would be taking paracetamol and ibuprofen. It doesn’t always work though, so I like to use hot packs on my tummy area. I also enjoy longer, hot showers, I find the heat helps me a lot.

Period sex – what’s your take on it?

Haha! I just put a towel down.

What does working with Me. The brand mean to you?

I love it, to be honest. I think too many people are embarrassed by talking about periods, so I love the fact Me. is letting me be so open about something so normal that affects a lot of people.

As part of the “Don’t Hide Me” campaign, Me. Is working to dismantle the stigmas around periods. What do you think needs to change in this space, and how can we facilitate open, honest conversations about our cycle?  

What should change is men thinking that periods are gross. Some guys get really awkward, some guys say it’s disgusting. That’s one of the many reasons girls and women feel ashamed of their periods.

Education, plus normalising telling boys how the female body works (some guys don’t even know which hole a tampon goes into), would make a world of difference.

SHOP SARI-ELLA’S EDIT: 

Me. Super Tampons. SHOP NOW

Me. Overnight Pads. SHOP NOW

AMY PEJKOVIC

ME. PERIOD CARE

How old where you when you experienced your first period, and how did it make you feel?

I would have been around 15. I definitely felt confused — I didn’t know what to do or who to ask for help (I was at school) as I didn’t have a pad on me. There was also a sense of embarrassment. I almost thought because I got my period, I couldn’t be a kid anymore. But it didn’t take me long to snap out of that.

Who or what was it that educated and guided you about periods and the menstruation cycle initially? Did you feel equipped, or completely freaked out?

My mum. Although I was a little embarrassed telling her, she helped me understand what my body was doing and why. Girlfriend Magazine also helped me understand things. The good old sealed section was a life saver when I was too embarrassed to ask certain questions.

Has your family or culture affected your relationship with your period at all?

Nothing has affected my relationship with my period. I have always had friends and family that are open to talking about it – if anything, I can be too open about it!

How has your relationship with your period changed over the years?

I’ve learnt to embrace my cycle and work with it instead of against it. I’ve been learning more about the phases within my cycle and what type of exercise works better, what to do and what not to do in each phase, how my mood changes and the foods I need to fuel my body.

I have found there is a negative stigma around periods — wanting to hide your sanitary products to not ‘gross’ other people out. Or complaining when your period is coming, when it should just be embraced because what our bodies are capable of doing is amazing. I think realising this has been one of the biggest shifts for me.

Have you ever experienced shame or discomfort in relation to your period?

I have never experienced shame. However, I have felt discomfort. I’ve been caught out wearing white at events and ended up with blood all over my pants! And I can tell you it is quite embarrassing, especially when the guests were 90% male.

Describe your cycle for us in three words?

Natural, regular, empowering.

Walk us through your period routine – what does each day of your cycle look like?

One week prior: I tend to be quite moody and can over think every situation — this is usually when arguments start with my partner, the poor man. He has also learnt my cycle and knows when its coming before I do! It’s quite funny.

I can feel a little bit lost and hopeless, almost like any negative emotion is heightened. I’m continually learning to control my emotions around my period, instead of letting them control me. I tend to do the most journaling and meditating during this week.

I am also lethargic, get muscle aches and struggle to focus. Getting to sleep can be a battle too. I stay away from heavy red wines and sugar as they trigger migraines before and during my period — if I get a migraine during this time frame, I’m bed ridden for days.

Days 1-3: These days are the heaviest and I tend to get cramps and feel really tired. I stay away from heavy exercise or lifting as my body doesn’t respond well, so I’ll do lighter exercise (if any).  My mood however is pretty much back to normal as soon as my period starts, and I’ll think to myself, ‘so that’s why you were being a crazy person.’

Days 4-5: I’m back doing regular things, am able to train harder and my mood has usually stabilised. I definitely feel more normal.

I do have to say each period is so different though. One month I may not experience pain, PMS or PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder). Then the next month it can hit me like a tornado.

My favourite Me. products to see me through would have to be the regular tampons for day and pads for sleeping.

What’s your mental health like in relation to your cycle – do you find it’s impacted when you’re bleeding?

All honesty, not great. PMDD is something that happens to me on occasion. I get very moody, depressed and suffer serious anxiety the week leading up to my period for absolutely no reason. Everything can be great in my life however, I will struggle to get out of bed in the morning because I’m upset or feel like the world is against me.

Then I will get my period and am back to normal — it is quite a struggle!

What’s your usual routine when it comes to managing PMS?

I’ve started taking B6, zinc, magnesium and Vitex to help relieve PMS/PMDD symptoms. These were recommended by my GP and  they seem to help. Some months are better than others, but I’m getting there! Also exercise is so important — makes me feel better every time.

ME. PERIOD CARE

Period sex – what’s your take on it?

I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it as I don’t feel overly sexy when I have my period. If it’s the first few days, definitely not – too heavy and it can bring on cramps! The last few days are fine. It’s really a non-issue for me.

What does working with Me. The brand mean to you?

It is very important to work with brands that align with your personal goals and values — Me. Is the perfect example of that. Periods are normal, natural and should be embraced, not hidden. We celebrate our natural selves, and I think our periods deserve that too.

Me. Is also environmentally conscious. They use organic cotton, biodegradable wrapping and recyclable cardboard packaging. This is so important, both in regard to the planet, and due to the fact that these products are being used inside our bodies.

As part of the “Don’t Hide Me” campaign, Me. Is working to dismantle the stigmas around periods. What do you think needs to change in this space, and how can we facilitate open, honest conversations about our cycle?  

We are certainly heading in the right direction. We can’t force people to talk about their period if they don’t feel comfortable doing so, however we can create a safe environment and continue having the right conversations. I think we need to keep talking about it and that will slowly break-down the stigma behind it, the more we have open conversations, the more people will notice it is okay to talk about your period without feeling embarrassed or ashamed.

SHOP AMY’S EDIT: 

Me. Regular Ultra Thin Pad. SHOP NOW

Me. regular tampon. SHOP NOW

KATE WASLEY

ME. PERIOD CARE

How old where you when you experienced your first period, and how did it make you feel?

I was 12 years old and felt anxious and embarrassed, which I feel is totally normal for young people starting to go through puberty. Though in saying that I think there was much more of a stigma around periods 15 years ago than there is now.

Who or what was it that educated and guided you about periods and the menstruation cycle initially? Did you feel equipped, or completely freaked out?

I was definitely embarrassed. I knew it was something that almost every woman gets — it just wasn’t something I was comfortable discussing. It was actually around the time that self-service checkouts came in at major supermarkets, and I remember thinking it was a lifesaver because I would have been mortified buying sanitary products from an actual cashier!

On reflection, it’s sad to think that I didn’t feel comfortable enough to buy tampons, so I guess there was a bit of little bit shame attached to it.

Has your family or culture affected your relationship with your period at all?

When I was younger, I wouldn’t dare bring my period up to anyone! It wasn’t something we spoke about at home but I think that was society’s doing — my parents have always been open and supportive, so perhaps the lack of conversation around periods in general made me internalise some shame.

I also think the culture of spectating in ‘health’ class when you’re younger creates some stigma around periods — men/boys feeling extremely uncomfortable, thinking periods are ‘gross’. It definitely impacted my relationship with my changing body.

How has your relationship with your period changed over the years?

Oh I’m so comfortable with it now, but I think that just comes with age. If I don’t make it a big deal then it’s not a big deal.

ME. PERIOD CARE

Walk us through your period routine – what does each day of your cycle look like?

I’m definitely aware that I’m about to get my period in the days leading up even without looking at my period tracker app. I feel irritable, maybe a little more emotional than usual and HUNGRY! I could eat my body weight and still be hungry. I also find exercise difficult and feel really tired. Then when my period starts my mood stabilises, the hunger goes away and I’m completely back to normal besides some pretty horrific cramping for the first two to three days. I’ve found that using Naprogesic in the days leading up to my period helps, along with a heat pack on my stomach when I have time. The only thing that really changes when I have my period is my exercise routine. I’ll do some light exercise (walking or stretching) for the first few days and that’s only if I feel up to it. I’m never too hard on myself.

During the first one to two days I like to use Me. tampons and pads together for extra protection and comfort. Then I’ll continue to only use Me. tampons during the day and Me. pads at night for the rest of my cycle.

What’s your mental health like in relation to your cycle – do you find it’s impacted when you’re bleeding?

I’m definitely a lot more emotional towards the start of my period and the week leading up to it.  I know it’s coming, so I try not to let it get me down.

What’s your usual routine when it comes to managing PMS?

I take a moment before I react to things and I sit with my thoughts and feelings — I go easy on myself.

What does working with Me. The brand mean to you?

I’m really happy to be partnered with a brand that is working to dismantle the stigmas and shame around periods. I think it’s really important, especially for young girls, to feel comfortable having open conversations about menstruation and realise that it’s a part of life that isn’t gross or unhygienic in any way. What we need is information and products that work — Me. is doing so much in that space.

As part of the “Don’t Hide Me” campaign, Me. Is working to dismantle the stigmas around periods. What do you think needs to change in this space, and how can we facilitate open, honest conversations about our cycle?  

As I mentioned, I think that the information needs to be readily available to girls and women without shame. After all, periods are so completely normal. I think boys and men need to learn about menstruation at a young age as well so that it doesn’t become taboo in years to come.

SHOP KATE’S EDIT: 

Me. regular tampon. SHOP NOW

Me. is available in Australia via Coles Supermarkets.  SHOP THE ENTIRE RANGE HERE.

thoughts?