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The M Scale Black Mark

Period Anxiety

May 17, 2023
Managing menstruation outside the home

Period anxiety about managing menstruation outside the home is a feeling many menstruators feel on a monthly basis. Menstruation can be hard enough to manage on its own, and  throwing in uncertainty around services and safe spaces to replace collection methods adds an extra level of uncomfortableness to an already uncomfortable situation.

This is not just anecdotal either. When I was first researching the potential for The M Scale, I canvassed the menstruators in my circle by asking them to fill out an anonymous survey about their experiences with anxiety and managing menstruation in public spaces.

Out of the 55 respondents[1] the trend confirmed my suspicions:

  • 80% of respondents said they regularly felt anxiety
  • Less than 20% said that public spaces often met their expectations or requirements when managing their menstruation.
  • And 24% said they would cancel plans if they knew they’d have to manage their menstruation outside the home.

The comments were also enlightening – many raw and personal, some are featured on our home page to serve as a reminder as to why we’re doing this.

“If I’m honest I’ve also been caught out without a wastebin available and have had to wrap my product up and put it back in my bag until I found a bin. Yuck!”

“As a cup user my biggest issue is lack of soap. I need clean hands before attempting any operation involving the cup plus obvs tissue then more soap after”.

But it’s not just my research either. Once it was confirmed that something needed to be done, I did my due diligence and tried to read as much on the matter as possible.

One paper, which aggregated different research approaches to the menstrual experience in high-income countries, wrote:

“Participants often noted that they did not believe that they had access to private, appropriate facilities where they could regularly bathe, dispose of menstrual materials and change their menstrual materials. This caused particular distress for those with heavy and those who identified as non-binary or transgender and felt uncomfortable using ‘men’s’ rooms when menstruating, for fear of being identified as a non cis-man, which they believed could be dangerous for them.” [2]

Why do we tolerate this?  Why do we collectively experience such an awful anxiety around something that should be so easily managed?

All questions point to one answer – menstruation stigma. We hide our true feelings and “put up with” them because society doesn’t want to know about it. It’s something we should deal with on our own, and so we have. If you would like to know more about menstruation stigma you can read our blog here.

HOW CAN WE HELP?

The M Scale is here to break the stigma and hold society accountable for underserving 26% of the population. Why is the onus on us to make it better? The onus is on anyone with a public access bathroom to better serve their clients, customers and constituents. By reviewing public spaces through our app, we are collectively informing people that they should do better – whilst also informing other users of places to avoid.

There are so many incredible activists working in this area now, through so many different modes to try and smash the stigma and normalise menstruation. The M Scale is but one small piece of the solution, but we’re here to hopefully make managing menstruation outside the home a little bit easier.

Take part in the revolution today!


[1]  I should mention this was over two days, and I am not that popular – 400 FB friends – so the response alone showed how much people wanted to talk about the matter in a safe environment.

[2] Barrington DJ, Robinson HJ, Wilson E, Hennegan J. Experiences of menstruation in high income countries: A systematic review, qualitative evidence synthesis and comparison to low- and middle-income countries. PLoS One. 2021 Jul 21;16(7):e0255001. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0255001. PMID: 34288971; PMCID: PMC8294489.

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