Everywhere, Period: New Zealand

Roz Croad is the CEO of an international events company and is based in London. Originally from Wellington, New Zealand, Roz contributed to our Everywhere, Period series, where we’re aiming to demystify periods everywhere.

How old were you when you first got your period and what was that experience like?

I think I was about 13. It’s hard to remember now as I realize I have more years in my life with my period than without. I remember sitting in a courtyard with friends in my school uniform with my legs stretched out in the sun. I felt this sensation and I just knew I had gotten my period for the first time. We had learned about it in classes at middle school so I knew it would happen. I went home and told my mum and I think she got me some pads and told me how to put them in my panties. When I reflect on it, I think I went about it quite independently as I’d been given enough information to figure it out, but that’s also the kind of person I am.

In your community, is there much weight given to a girl getting her period? Any rituals or traditions?

I grew up in New Zealand in a predominantly Anglo-Saxon community.  We don’t have any rituals to mark this occasion and actually, I think that’s a shame. The thing about not having any kind of ritual to mark it is it reflects that there is an element of shame and hush hush around periods.

As girls, we would tell each other if we were on our period and ask to borrow products from each other. Some girls used to use it as an excuse (not always honestly) to get out of phys-ed classes as the teacher would often be male and accept it as an excuse! But we don’t talk much more about it and about period health and this has caused me issues for me as an adult.

Do you remember the first product(s) you used to manage your period?

I tried pads and didn’t like them.  I was always worried about them filling and spilling and imagining the shame of that if an accident happened. I changed to tampons and much preferred them.

How has your experience with your period changed over time?

For the past five years I’ve had amenorrhea which is when you stop getting your periods. I’ve been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). My PCOS is likely a complication that’s come from my type one diabetes. It’s complicated to treat as there’s no cure for it. Over the past year, my period has returned erratically but it’s still not stable.

From this experience I’ve reflected on my relationship with my period and what I used to see an inconvenience. I now see it as a welcome experience. It’s a sign that my body is working well and is healthy and I realize that this is the greatest gift that we can appreciate every day.  It’s also made me realize that in my culture we don’t talk openly enough about menstrual health. I didn’t seek help for at least a year and now that I’m getting help, I realize if I don’t address this, it could affect my ability to make choices about having a family in the future. Take charge of your health and don’t be shy to ask questions about whether something is healthy or “normal”. The more you know and understand about your body, the more you can spot if something is off.

I encourage anyone who notices a change to their period cycle to go and speak to a doctor and not put it off as the earlier you discover something, the more options you have to do something about it.

Have you tried or do you use different products to manage your period now?

Two years ago I switched to a Mooncup and have loved it. I found that I have a different relationship with my period now as I can observe how heavy the flow is and the quality of it. This makes me feel much more connected to my body. I use the Mooncup in combination with period panties that soak up blood and I feel like I’ve found the holy grail of period management now!

Do you have any special rituals, like a hot bath, using essential oils, or eating certain foods during the week you’re menstruating, that help you manage your period?

I used to get really bad period cramps and I found the hot wheat bag and candle lit baths were the best relief for them. Day one is the worst day and on day two, I might take a pain relief and lots of herbal tea. By day three the symptoms have usually gone.

The best relief I find is being kind to myself and accepting it’s a part of a healthy body doing it’s job and find gratitude in that rather than being aversive against it.

Do you have any advice for a girl who has just gotten her period?

Welcome to the womanhood! Your incredible body has just gone through a complicated transformation. It’s so complicated, that it’s way beyond our minds so don’t be shy if you have questions.

Ask to understand, ask because its interesting, and ask if it’s “normal” to assure yourself (it’s all OK, even if it’s not “normal” by the way 😉 ).

And, ask for ideas! There are so many ways to treat cramps and different menstruation products and brands so ask around and try things out to find what works uniquely best for you.

Thank you, Roz! 

Featured image by Vicente Núñez García

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