Wouldn’t it be easier if we were all more open about the perfectly normal bodily function we experience each month? We think so. Each week, we’ll be speaking to one woman about her menstrual cycle, from cravings and coping with PMS to period confidence. Read, comment, share your own. Every story is welcome here.
This week’s period talk is from Asma, part-time criminal lawyer, mother-of-two and founder of chocolate brand Maza.
I know my period is coming when…
“My skin flares up. I’ll start getting the odd little spot in the run up, about a week or 10 days before my period, and then my stomach will feel bloated. I generally feel a bit sluggish. I know that it’s going to happen and the worst thing is waiting for it – I’m preparing a week before!”
What’s your period craving?
“Chocolate! I am quite sensible about what I eat, but when it comes to my period I look to my first love – chocolate.”
Do you suffer from hormonal skin?
“Totally. I used to suffer from adult acne and even though I don’t suffer anymore, during my period – oh my goodness – I still get the odd spot and I tell you it’s massive! It’s not a little thing that you can cover up, it’s huge! I’ve got one at the moment and I am covering it up with my hair.”
Has your period ever had an impact on your career or job?
“Around 10 years ago I was experiencing some really, really heavy periods to the point where the blood could quite easily leak through my clothes. Unfortunately it happened when I was in court. I needed to go home at lunchtime, so I emailed my female manager and apologised profusely because I felt dreadful, I felt awful, and she was so supportive.
“She said, ‘Look it’s fine, these things happen and when you go on to your next job just be honest with your manager because if you do suffer very seriously then people should accommodate that. It’s not good enough for a women to stand in court with menstrual fluid leaking through her clothes’.
“That was a really positive experience for me because it just made me more confident to be honest and say if I’m really suffering in court. I now feel confident enough to ask for breaks to go to the toilet. To be able to slip a note to the usher and say look, I’m going to need a comfort break and give them that firm look to say ‘you know what I mean’ and before you know it, oh yes, the court’s adjourned to let you have that break.
“If you open up, then the other party doesn’t know what to say, so they actually tend to be more accommodating. If you have a male judge or even if you have a female judge, you can’t address them directly, that’s just not very professional, but there’s no harm in slipping a note to the usher or even saying – I mean, I have whispered to people before, perhaps not men, but made it clear that I’m suffering with a very heavy period and I’m going to need a break soon. I can’t sit through a 3 hour court session if I’m on my period and not have a couple of breaks, it’s just impossible.
“Some people’s reactions, even female reactions, say ‘oh that’s disgusting’, but it’s a fact - leaking happens to everyone! Also, when you are working in that industry, you can’t dress for your period or for comfort, you’ve got to look your best.”
Tell us about your first period…
“I was 14. I woke up in the morning and I had white pyjamas on and they were just covered! It wasn’t how I was expecting. I thought it would just be nice and neat and that I’d tell my mum who would get me some lovely pink sanitary towels but it wasn’t like that. It was just awful and it was on a school day. My mum bless her got out the biggest sanitary towels ever, it was like wearing a nappy. I’ll never forget that!”
What’s your period saviour?
“A hot water bottle, definitely. At the end of the day when the kids are in bed and I’ve done what I need to do, just a hot water bottle on my tummy or on my bits, it makes such a difference!”
Your favourite thing to do when you have your period is…
“Watch a film with a hot water bottle and a hot chocolate. I know it sounds really cliché but I just want to be cosy! No lights, just candles, Netflix (preferably on my own with no kids or husband around. Just peace and quiet.”
Read more about Asma as we speak to the entrepreneur about juggling work with family, women that inspire her and why it’s super-important to support females far and wide.
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