Hey, you learn something new every day! Or at least, in the case of me and my uterus, every month.

Here are the most important lessons I have learned while getting to, um, grips with tampons…

1. Don’t use tampons for the first time when you’re in a hurry

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Puberty arrived for me when I turned 12, right at the end of the summer holidays. I was the youngest in my class, and when I returned to school for the autumn term, it seemed that everyone was an old hand at this period lark whereas I was still very much a novice. So when I felt that familiar tickle in my abdomen during Double French, a month after I got my first period, I wasn’t prepared with sanitary towels, and had to scuttle off to the loos clutching a tampon my friend gave me instead.

I had never used a tampon – only pads – but I found myself shivering in the freezing Victorian toilet, looking at this weird cotton pen-like thing, thinking “well, how hard can it be?”

Thirty seconds later I discovered exactly how hard when (and I swear this is true), not being able to see what I was doing – or even knowing what it was supposed to feel like – almost inserted the tampon into my bottom.

I went back to class with a rolled-up wad of loo paper in my knickers instead, and a face red with embarrassment. Also I limped a bit.

2.  Always read the instructions

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Even though I’d studied the diagrams of the reproductive system at school, I still sort of thought that the vagina was a straightforward hole-tunnel affair, and that putting a tampon in would be like popping a cork in a bottle.

But, as I stood there with one foot on the toilet seat and my tongue poking out of my mouth in concentration, I was really glad I’d taken the time to unfold the gigantic instruction sheet and pore over it like an Ikea instruction manual. Otherwise I might not have realised that you need to angle the tampon towards the small of my back, or to consciously relax, and I might have ended up with a tampon in the bum again.

3. Don’t get frustrated if it’s not comfortable

3) Brave-Frustrated

Sometimes your vagina isn’t lubricated (slippy) enough and the tampon feels too rough. Sometimes you haven’t put it in far enough and it leaves a weird, heavy weight inside you. Sometimes the string gets squashed against your flesh. Sometimes the stars just aren’t aligned right.

Don’t worry that you’re not doing it right, or that something scary is up – just take it out (slowly!), relax, and try again later.

4. Always match the tampon to your flow

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Sometimes when you go to the dentist for a procedure they’ll ask you to take a mild painkiller beforehand, in case you need pain relief later. Do not take this approach with tampons – it doesn’t matter if your flow starts off light and then gets heavier, always use the lightest possible option for your type of flow – otherwise it can feel uncomfortable until you start producing a heavier menses, and puts you at risk of toxic shock syndrome.

Also, it’s no fun walking around with a grimace on your face all day. No fun at all.

5. Don’t panic if it gets stuck!

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Ok, there have been times when I’ve gone to pull the string out and nothing’s happened. It’s like there’s a team of vagina-gnomes in there holding fast to the other end, just to mess with me.

Whenever this happens, images start flashing through my mind – me, going ashen-faced to the hospital A&E; me in stirrups while a team of doctors point between my legs and laugh; me, in the Guinness Book of Records as The Woman Who Had a Tampon Inside Her Her Entire Life.

Then I take a few deep breaths and remind myself that my vagina is basically a big muscle, and sometimes muscles just… contract. Sooner or later I relax, and then the tampon comes out.

6. Always take more than you need

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My best friend is incredibly smooth with her period. She doesn’t get period pains and can switch her tampon quicker than I can blink. I am not like her.

Often, I am clumsy, which means that when I’m fishing around for a new tampon in my bag, three others fall into the toilet itself. Sometimes the one I insert comes straight out with the applicator when I take my hand away. Occasionally, because I pack my bag early in the morning when I’m still essentially asleep, I find that instead of a tampon, I have brought a banana.

My point is: always take extra tampons, because you might be an idiot like me.

7. There’s no shame in a pad

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After all is said and done, tampons aren’t for everyone, and for a lot of people they don’t fit all situations. Often, at the beginning and ends of my period when my flow is light, I’m not lubricated enough (hiya) to use a tampon. Sometimes, you have bad cramps and your entire lower half feels inflamed and there is nothing you want to do less than introduce a tampon into the mix. Sometimes sanitary pads are simply a better option, so find some that you like and keep a stash around for when tampons don’t quite cut the mustard.

8. Don’t put them in sideways

You probably know this one already. And obviously I did! I mean, I never tried it! That would be stupid! Don’t listen to anyone who says that I did!

Ha ha ha!

Seriously though.

@orbyn

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Manjit Thapp

I was nine when I started my first period. Nine.

I was so young I was still making up dance routines in the playground and absent-mindedly picking my nose in public, but then one day the puberty gods decided I would be plucked from my innocent childhood and made to menstruate.

It was a weekend. I was sat on the upstairs loo while my mum hung out washing on the landing. I wiped after doing my business and there it was on the tissue: blood.

It wasn’t bright red like the normal blood I’d seen when I’d fallen over and grazed my knees. This was darker and definitely not wee, so it had to be my period. I pulled up my knickers, flushed the chain and walked out of the bathroom. “Mum, I think I’ve started my period,” I announced.

My mum did what any normal mum would do when a nine-year-old announces she’s bleeding from her vagina: she freaked out. Dropping the bed sheet she was folding, she hopped from one foot to another, spluttering, “OK… um… right… OK… um”. I shrugged, walked past coolly and reassured: “It’s alright, mum. I know what to do.”

I was too young to have had sex education at school, but luckily my mum had been spotting signs that my period was on the hormonal horizon. While she may have been useless on the day (bless her), she’d been super organised beforehand and prepared me for aunt Flo’s imminent arrival.

She later told me she’d noticed a white discharge appearing in my knickers when she did the washing, which is a sure sign your first period is about to start. (BTW: regular discharge is totally normal and part of a woman’s monthly cycle. It’s not gross and is nothing to be ashamed of. Find out more about it here.)

So when my period came, my mum had already given me “the talk”. She had put sanitary towels in my knicker drawer and performed an extremely detailed demonstration of how to stick a white-winged sanitary pad into the gusset of my age 9-10 knickers.

By the time I went back to school on Monday, I was a period pro. I skipped into the school playground with a packet of Always tucked away inside my backpack and that was that. The world kept turning and nothing really changed.

After a phone call from my mum, the school made a few changes to accommodate the “more mature” girls in my class (which is code for “those with boobs”). We got changed in the toilets for PE instead of the classroom, we could go to the loo in the middle of a lesson and we knew where the secret stash of sanitary products were.

People feel sorry for me for having “grown up so fast”, but in reality I was remarkably unfazed by the arrival of aunt Flo.

Puberty is a slow and steady experience for girls, unlike boys who seem to sprout overnight and get reaaaaally deeeeeep vooooooices all of a sudden. So I was used to “growing up”. I had boobs – not budding nipples but actual breasts that needed a bra – and had discovered my first pubes a year before.

Maybe I was too young to feel that shame and embarrassment that a lot of girls feel when they start their period. I was more interested in cartoons than how I looked, what boys thought of me or what was happening to my body. If anything I’m happy that I started so young, it meant that when my friends started I was a dab hand and could help them out.

Periods aren’t always easy, of course: sometimes you leak blood onto bed sheets or your pants (which is really easy to wash with cold water), the pain can be excruciating (hot water bottles are your friend) and it makes swimming awkward (you can still go, just wear a tampon and change it when you get out – you don’t want a wet string dripping in your undies).

I’d recommend using a period tracker app to log pain, flow and moods, so you know what is normal for your body. That way if you are worried or notice anything unusual speak to an adult you trust. The most powerful thing you can do for your health as a woman is get to know yourself.

But for the most part, you, like the other half of the population who menstruate, will be just fine. And if a nine-year-old can do it, I’m sure you can too.

@Brogan_Driscoll

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Girls, you can do anything you want. Want to be an astronaut? You got this. Want to be a DJ? Sure thing. Want to breed puppies so that you have a constant stream of puppies to cuddle? THAT SOUNDS LIKE THE BEST JOB IN THE WORLD.

Want to go for a swim when you’re on your period? Dive right on in.

Seriously?

Seriously. If you feel comfortable going for a dip when you’re on your period, there’s no reason why you can’t.

It’s actually an awesome idea, because exercise releases endorphins, which can help reduce the fatigue and cramps that sometimes come as an unwanted side order to your monthly visit from the uterus unicorn.

What if I TURN THE WHOLE POOL RED?

Ok, this is where tampons come in handy. Lots of people try them for the first time in order to go swimming, because they’re really the easiest way to prevent leaks. Just swap it for a new, dry one once you’re out of the water. Bombs away!  

TLDR? Here’s the important stuff:
  • You can abso-freakin-loutely go swimming when you’re on your period. You might actually find that it helps reduce aches, pains and argghs.
  • Your best bet is to use a tampon while swimming, to keep leaks at bay.
  • If tampons are a no-go, try a menstrual cup – but pads aren’t your pal at the pool. Sorry!

But if you’re strictly a pad person, things can be a bit tricker. Pads are designed to absorb fluids, so wearing one in the water means it’ll become soggy pretty quickly, and won’t be able to do its job properly – or stay stuck to your bikini bottoms either.

So it’s tampons or nothing?

Keep your cossie on for the moment, because there are some other options.

If you don’t fancy tampons you could try a menstrual cup, which is inserted in the vagina and captures the blood rather than absorbing it. You just empty it out in the loo every few hours, and pop it back up.  

Or if your period is light and you’re happy to go with the flow, you could try wearing a dark coloured swimming costume to hide any small leaks or stains. Don’t believe people who tell you your period stops in water – that’s a big ol’ myth – but it’s true that many people find they can have a quick dip with no disasters.

BUT WHAT ABOUT SHARKS?

Nope, total lie. They can’t smell your period, we promise. (And especially not in a leisure centre in the Midlands).

So in conclusion: just because you’re riding the crimson wave, doesn’t mean you can’t play in the actual waves too. Pool party, anyone?

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Amber Griffin

Periods are pretty much unavoidable. And tbh I like to think of them as a healthy sign that everything is working as it should down there. That aside, there’s no denying it can be a pain in the arse when you’re lapping up the sun a million miles from the safe haven of your local Boots.

If you’re planning a big trip, here’s some top tips on how to survive your period while living out of a backpack.

Be prepared

This section can be broken down into two parts informally known as ‘pads’ and ‘pants’ – a girl’s two best friends when her period decides to say hello.

Firstly, pads: this may seem obvious but whatever your sanitary go-tos, make sure you stock up. Despite living the dream there are times when travelling can be tough and you’ll really crave your home comforts. Particularly when your period strikes. As you’ll most likely be a long way from your favourite duvet and Netflix series, my advice is to make sure you have a load of your favourite tampons and pads on hand to make it all a bit more comfortable. They’re light and don’t take up much space so raid your local stores and build a stash fit for a queen. Of course, periods are universal, so you’ll always be able to pick up supplies somewhere but if you’re anything like me and your period can make you just a little grouchy… you’ll be thankful for the assortment of supplies at your fingertips.

Pants: everyone has their trusty pair of period pants. I’ll be the first to hold my hands up and say my collection is vast. Once again it all relates back to achieving maximum period comfort. No one wants to be squeezing into a cute pair of lacy pants mid-period bloat. When it comes to comfy knickers, the more the merrier. You’ll thank me later.

Be educated

Hunting for ‘le tampon’ or ‘el sanitary towel’ could be a waste of valuable tanning time. My advice would be to locate the nearest pharmacy in each town you visit. That way, a few days before you come on you can stock up on everything you’ll need. From pads to paracetamol, a pharmacy will see you through. They also tend to have pretty good snack sections… just saying.

It’s also never a bad idea to learn some phrases to explain period-related symptoms or sanitary products in general. This will help avoid awkward incidents in which you and the pharmacist have to play a game of period charades. Re-enacting period cramps in an Argentinian supermarket in front of a queue of gawking strangers was really not how I pictured my acting debut…

Be chilled

Girl, you’ve done this whole period thing a hundred times before so don’t let a change in location get to you. So your period arrives unexpectedly, no problemo, just carry on as normal. When you’re away for a long stretch you’ll have plenty of time for a few chill days, so if you’re feeling groggy just rejig your schedule and spend the first day of your period relaxing in a hammock at a hostel. When you’re constantly on the move you can easily become tired, so having a much needed pamper day will give you the chance to rejuvenate and catch up with friends, family and those all-important z’s.

Although our bodies tend to be pretty intuitive when we’re changing time zones, the weather and other factors can definitely mess with your cycle. No one knows your body better than you do. If your period is late don’t be alarmed, Mother Nature may simply just be taking her sweet time to catch up with your new, adventurous lifestyle. If the problem continues, don’t be shy, just talk to the local pharmacist.

Be bold

A menstrual history lesson revealed that some women were forced to remain bed-bound during their period. But a lot has changed since then, honey. You may never get to experience these wonderful places and things again, so put on your trusty period panties and face the day head on. Trekking the Amazon rainforest will still be amazing, period or not, trust me, I’ve been there. Do not, I repeat, do not let your period stop you from having fun.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Katie Edmunds

My period catches me off guard every month.

Maybe it’s because I’m one of the unlucky ones whose ovaries are super irregular and love holding surprise parties for my underwear, or maybe – maybe – it’s because, after 14 years of having them, I’ve never actually bothered to track my flow. Who knows.

But as a result, I have chapter upon chapter of period stories under my metaphorical belt (a belt that is, fingers crossed, not looped through a pair of white jeans).

Here’s every badly-timed period I’ve ever had – so that next time you’re creating a makeshift sanitary towel out of plasters and first aid tape (see 2016: Up a Volcano) you can know you are not alone, my fabulously fertile friends. You are not alone.

2002: Winnie the Period Pain

Everyone’s first badly timed period is their first period. There’s just no way of knowing. For me it was on a family holiday aged 12, wearing a pair of Eeyore pyjamas (read the whole story here). Infinity pools still trigger flashbacks but I’ve not held it against A A Milne.

2003: Plump It

School netball match. I’d pulled a pre-match Art Attack in the changing room toilets and fashioned a sanitary towel out of a combination of loo roll and that blue paper you use to dry your hands (TIP: the blue paper is more absorbent but toilet paper is softer, so wrap the blue stuff in the white stuff to get the best of both worlds).

A combination of big knickers and the jumping necessary in the role of Goal Keeper meant my patchwork sanner slipped out of my shorts mid-game. Luckily no one cares about the GK so the episode went unnoticed. I tucked the fugitive into my Reebok Classics before escaping back to the changing room to riffle through the rest of the team’s school bags for a solution.

Within 10 minutes I was back on court wearing my first ever non-applicator tampon, having treated myself to a generous layer of the Wing Attack’s plumping lip gloss. Needless to say I felt like a sassy super hero on a secret mission, and in a way I was, you guys.

2004: Hoodie heroes

White combat trousers. Thorpe Park. Here’s a fact; taking a ride on the aptly named Tidal Wave does not help wash away red crotch stains (a friend’s hoodie tied round the waist hid the evidence in the end).

2005: My Oracle

Day date with an older boy. I didn’t want to buy tampons in front of him – I was 15, incredibly nervous and on my first ever date – so I headed straight to the toilets at The Oracle shopping centre in Reading. The whole situation would have been totally manageable, had this period not coincided with the six months where I thought wearing leggings made knickers redundant.

The tampon machine was broken, so I solicited strangers and ended up meeting an amazing woman who gave me an entire pack of Regular flows, a spritz of her Chanel No.5 and the most empowering feminist speech I’d ever heard. I went to bed that night with a ruined pair of H&M leggings in my bin, having not had a regretful snog with the older boy. It was actually a really good day.

2006: The Treaty of Versailles

I was sitting my History GCSE exam. You’re not meant to stop your classmates mid-essay to ask for a quick show of hands on who’s got a spare tamp in their pencil case, so I felt lucky that my friend’s mum was invigilating and understood the panic in my eyes.

She escorted me to the canteen where a sensational group of dinner ladies offered a selection of sanitary options for me to choose from. They should go down in history for being so cool and sweet. I was predicted a C and got a B, but it felt like I defied more than just my history teacher that day.

2008: Red Light

I was 18 and got my period at the exact same time that I drove too fast on an icy bend and crashed my first car at a ring road junction in Basingstoke.

I remember staring at the hood, which now resembled a ball of crumpled up paper, and while the snow fell and Jamie T sang about his brand new bass guitar, I felt the familiar first clump of my disused womb wall slipping into my knickers. I wasn’t sure if the back ache was whiplash or period pain, but I did know that the kind man named Dave who helped me drive out of the way of oncoming traffic and into a nearby carpark would not be able to shed any light on it.

He bought me fish and chips and a can of Rio while I waited for the AA van and secretly stuffed wads of napkins into my parka pocket, before pleading with the chippie owner to let me use his family toilet. I cried on the loo with my knickers round my ankles before stealing two paracetamol from his medicine cabinet.

2012: Here comes the cramp

While being a bridesmaid, right in the middle of the ceremony. If anyone finds an abandoned pair of Spanx in the loo at a country house in Berkshire, they’re mine.

2012: Ovaries on tour 2k12

In a sweaty Passport Control queue full of lads-on-tour types at Malaga airport. Trapped, tampon-less and rejecting the advances of a boy with ‘BONERSAURUS REX’ printed on his baby pink polo shirt. 2012 was a bad year for my white knicker collection.

2014: Off the record

In the middle of a phone call in which I was interviewing a ‘TV personality’. Tried to disguise the sudden bathroom echo in my voice as I masterfully inserted a tampon whilst juggling my phone, a USB cable and a dictaphone. Deserved a pay rise, to be honest.

2016: Up a Volcano

I thought my badly-timed period days were behind me until this summer’s episode, which finds me at the top of a volcano in Guatemala in rainy season. Anything is possible when you come on your period unexpectedly and manage to get creative with a packet of plasters and first aid tape. I made a promise there and then with my confused Guatemalan guide, Silvio, as my witness that I will start carrying tampons on me at all times.

I will, I swear.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Getty

The life of a celeb seems so glam, with their shiny hair and their flawless eyebrows. But it turns out your period doesn’t care if you’re starring alongside Chris Pratt as his love interest or if you’re blasting off into space. Like an inconsiderate house guest, it’ll show up and ruin another pair of pants no matter what.

Here are some of our favourite leading ladies talking about their periods.

Tina Fey, confirming we’re not the only ones who once thought our periods would look like raspberry Slush Puppy.

“I was ten years old. I had noticed something was weird earlier in the day but I knew from commercials that one’s menstrual period was a blue liquid that you poured like laundry detergent onto maxi pads to test their absorbency. This wasn’t blue, so… I ignored it for a few hours. When we got home I pulled my mom aside to ask if it was weird I was bleeding in my underpants. She was very sympathetic but also a little baffled. Her eyes said, ‘Dummy didn’t you read How Shall I Tell My Daughter?’ I had read it but nowhere in the pamphlet did anyone say that your period was NOT a blue liquid. At that moment two things became clear to me. I was now technically a woman and I would never be a doctor.”

pad

Mindy Kaling is a fan of method acting. At least when it comes to her uterus.

“I started menstruating in ninth grade. I spent all of eighth grade faking that I had my period, down to sticking Kotex in my underwear in case anyone needed proof.”

Astronaut Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, teaching male engineers the difference between a period and a waterfall.

“I remember the engineers trying to decide how many tampons should fly on a one-week flight; they asked, ‘Is 100 the right number?’ ‘No. That would not be the right number.’ They said, ‘Well, we want to be safe.’ I said, ‘Well, you can cut that in half with no problem at all.”

the-shining

Chrissy Teigen knows there’s a legitimate reason you ate your brother’s Snickers

“How long before your period do you get to start blaming your period for things? I say six days is reasonable, 10 is a ballsy stretch.”

Kate Winslet on filming Titanic with a different kind of sinking feeling

“There were days when you’d just think, ‘Oh, my God, I’ve got my period and I can’t get in that freezing-cold water today.’ … I remember standing up and saying to everyone, ‘Listen, if it suddenly looks like Jaws the movie, it’s my fault.'”

Jennifer Lawrence reminding us once again why we love her

“That was my plan-B dress. Plan-A was a dress that I couldn’t wear because awards season is synced with my menstrual cycle, and it has been for years … The other dress was really tight, and I’m not going to suck in my uterus. I don’t have to do that.”

Actress Fay Ripley, on why your first period can seem like a cereal drama

“Basically, I thought it was because I had eaten Coco Pops for my breakfast, and it had come out of my body. I ran downstairs crying and everyone said ‘what’s wrong?’ and I said ‘my cereal’s come out in my pants!’. To be honest I’ve never been able to eat Coco Pops since.”

Miley Cyrus, on starting her period while filming Hannah Montana. And wearing white trousers

“It was so embarrassing, but I couldn’t leave. And I was crying, begging my mom, ‘You’re going to have to put the tampon in. I have to be on set.”

hannah-montana

Comedian and presenter Jo Brand, making us all stop and think about how efficient a one-time-only period would be

“When I was about 11 I went to school one day and they explained to us all about periods…. I went home and said to my mum, ‘well they’ve told us all about it, and the only thing I’m happy about is that you only have one.’ And my mum said to me, ‘I think you’ve misunderstood, actually you have them every month until you’re in your fifties.’ I was devastated.”

 Demi Lovato, with a brand new reason we all deserve presents

“I told my mom and my sister … and they actually embarrassed me so bad. My sister folded a poster board in half and made a card out of it and drew pictures, and it said, ‘Happy Period Day!’ She drew stick figures and kisses, and she used red markers … I have a pretty good sense of humour, so on one hand, I was totally embarrassed, and on the other, I thought it was awesome.”

tampons1

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Right, this is tricky to write – because, as we are all constantly told by advertising, your period is no big deal! NBD at ALL. Why not slap on a pair of white lycra shorts, befriend a troop of chihuahuas and go rollerblading with them?

On the other hand, we know that handing a woman a bar of chocolate and sticking a chick-flick on Netflix just because her uterus happens to be shedding its lining is a little bit patronising.

The truth is, we all have good period days and bad period days. And if you have a friend who’s battling through a bad one, here’s a care package you can put together for her that (hopefully) won’t make her feel like a useless lump – either because you’re stereotyping her or making her feel bad for not cartwheeling about athletically. You are such a lovely person.

(Incidentally, this is a mix-and-match list. No one’s saying you have to get the whole lot, unless you have just won the lottery – in which case, forget the kit and take your friend to Miami or something).

Paracetamol

My BFF doesn’t get period pains. During her Moon Time she will literally put her hand on her abdomen ONCE, frown, go “ooh” and then forget about it. Assuming YOUR BFF isn’t a robot, period pains will probably raise their head at least once in her cycle. They can be awful, but just two paracetamol can help to take care of the pain (make sure your friend can safely take paracetamol first, though – and if the pain is so bad that she has to stay in bed, it’s worth seeing a doctor, just FYI).

A water bottle with pineapples on itA water bottle

Obviously it can be hard to stay hydrated when you’re roller-blading with chihuahuas all day, but dehydration can actually worsen that bloated feeling that can accompany your period – so include a pretty water bottle in your care package.

Dry shampoo

Increased testosterone makes your skin produce more sebum (calm down, it means oil) which is what causes the delightful increase in spots that can announce the arrival of your period. More sebum on your scalp can make your hair slightly greasy during this time, but a hair-wash might seem like a huge chore when your friend’s in the throes of cramps and rabid hunger. However, a quick spritz of a travel-sized dry shampoo will sort all that out quick-smart.

Tea tree oil

To dab on, and dry out, aforementioned spots. Not that she has any spots! Nope. There’s, like, literally nothing there at all babe…

Cute cheap undies

One of the things that can be most depressing about your period is the ritual wearing of stained grey pants for the best part of a week. But why bother with these when Primark sells pants in soul-lifting colours for less than the price of a Frappuccino?

minihotwaterbottleMini hot water bottles

Period pains can strike all over the place at once – like your lower back and your abdomen – so pop a couple of these portable Fairisle jobbies in her care package for when the cramps strike.

 

A snack box

Frequent snacking can keep your blood sugar stable and avoid energy dips and the emotional highs and lows that come with them. Pack her up some tasty snacks rich in fibre and protein (and yes ok, chocolate), so she doesn’t have to crawl to the kitchen too often.

Dark chocolate (a bit) and normal chocolate (a lot)

Dark chocolate is packed full of mood-boosting and stress-busting nutrients, plus magnesium (which can help relax your muscles), iron (which can run low during your period), and potassium (which can help cramps). But while dark chocolate can be good for you, milk chocolate makes you happy because it tastes so nice. So don’t skimp here, get both – unless your BFF hates chocolate, in which case you might have to be noble and eat it yourself.

pyjamasShort-sleeved PJs

At some point your friend MAY want to spend some quality time with her sofa. NOT because the stereotype is correct, but because periods can be exhausting and sofa time is a basic human right. So, if she’s a very good friend, why not get her a pair of PJ shorts to lounge around in? Your body temperature can rise by a full degree during your period, so bundling up in a fleecy onesie is out of the question. Oh yes, and make sure they have an elasticated waistband, like these from H&M.

Fish and chips

Fish is full of Vitamin B6, which can help with cramps, cravings, fatigue, bloating and mood swings. And chips are full of deliciousness, which they deserve.

A bouquet made from tampons and sanitary pads

Because everybody loves spares!

And finally, text her a few links

But not kitten gifs or anything. Text her something that will really make her angry – like examples of bad grammar on Twitter, or some random trolling of her favourite celebrity. Because, if she’s anything like me, before and during her period there will be MOUNDS of pent-up aggression floating around her psyche and she’ll thank you for helping her to get it out.

Move the water bottle first, maybe.

Or…

If you want the same wonderful thought but with loads less effort, you’ll be able to sign up for bettybox very soon. Watch this space!

@orbyn

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Getty

Fu Yuanhui became one of our Olympic sheroes last month when, after representing China in the Women’s Swimming 4 x 100m relay, she told an interviewer:

“I don’t think I performed very well today. I feel I let my teammates down.”

They came fourth. In the WORLD. She then explained:

“It’s because my period came yesterday, so I felt particularly tired – but this isn’t an excuse, I still didn’t swim well enough.”

Mike drop.

Fu’s candour was particularly brave, because while periods can still be a bit of taboo here in the UK, in China, they’re reeeally reeeally taboo. As in, prime-time commercials for sanitary products have been banned in China because they’re considered “vulgar” and “disgusting”.

The vast majority of women in China also still use pads, partly because of the persisting belief that women who use tampons are no longer virgins (we promise this isn’t true). Sex education in China is scarce and unregulated, which can lead to misunderstandings about the female reproductive system, a high rate of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, as well as many women avoiding tampons because they’re not sure how to insert them properly.

It’s estimated that tampons make up a minuscule 0.03% of the sanitary market, and while Chinese manufacturers produced 85 billion sanitary pads last year, not a single one of them made tampons.

Of course, pad popularity itself isn’t a bad thing; pads are comfy and easy to use and are excellent for mopping up your spilled Frappuccino – but they don’t work for every single situation. Such as, to pluck a random example out of the air, swimming.

Which we imagine would be kinda annoying if you’re an Olympic swimmer. Yeah.

Fu’s statement is so important in a worldwide context because it made people everywhere (yours truly included) pause and say: “oh yeahhhh, I never thought of athletes having periods!”

After all, we’re used to thinking of these people as super humans whose bodies can do things that ours couldn’t even begin to fathom – so it’s easy to assume the rules of nature that apply to us shouldn’t apply to them. But of course, as Fu reminded us, they do.

And just as significantly, a Chinese Olympian speaking openly about her period might finally spark a conversation within China about female reproduction, and trigger some really positive change for girls and women in the country.

All that, and an Olympic medal.

Fu, you’re our shero.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Getty