Menstruation and Sensory Processing Issues
Updated: Jul 5, 2020
Today I wanted to address the topic of sensory processing issues and menstruation. In writing this, I come from a place of being unofficially diagnosed with Aspergers in my teenage years. Although I feel I am not overly affected by sensory processing issues personally, I have observed situations both while at university and on online support groups where this problem can be a challenge for some.
Sensory processing issues can include, but are not limited to:
Disliking loud noises,
Struggling in certain light conditions (such as flashing lights)
Being uncomfortable while wearing certain fabrics or having tags on clothing
When I first learned about this subject, I wanted to address it in terms of menstruation. Disposable menstrual products are often uncomfortable, itchy and hot, even for those of us who do not struggle with sensory problems. As mentioned previously, I do not feel that I am particularly affected by sensory processing issues despite being on the spectrum but I noticed an incredible difference when switching to cloth menstrual pads.
To summarise, cloth pads are often discussed to have the following advantages:
More comfortable since they are made from cloth
Beautiful colours, designs and shapes available so you can customise to your needs
Quiet when changing in the bathroom as there is no plastic packaging to rustle
Fewer chemicals which can be an advantage for those with sensitive skin
Good for the environment since they can be washed and reused
In short, I believe that some of the listed advantages lend themselves quite well to those who are sensitive to particular fabrics against the skin. This is due to the amount of customisation that can be found in the cloth pad community compared to the limitations of shop-bought disposable options. For example, if someone is looking for a fabric similar to their usual underwear, it is likely they could find a maker who could provide it. Similarly for if someone felt uncomfortable in a longer pad so wanted a certain absorbency in something shorter - with so many different makers around the world, it is likely that something suitable will be available.
On another note, menstrual cups can also be an option for those who struggle with the sensation of menstrual fluid leaving the body. However, it is important to keep in mind that cups require a fair amount of dexterity to use safely and easily so they may not be ideal for someone who might struggle with fine motor skills or mobility.
I hope this has helped to shed some light on the subject of menstruation and sensory processing issues in the context of reusable options. If you have any questions, please feel free to drop me a message.