Menstruation and Sensory Processing Issues

In today's blog entry (my very first one!), I hope to talk to you about something quite close to me personally. That issue is sensory processing problems and menstruation. I am choosing to talk about this today as, a few years ago, it was concluded that I show traits of a condition called Asperger's disorder. That is a spectrum disorder similar but not quite the same as Autism. I never got a full diagnosis for personal reasons but the doctors told me that, as I had learned to manage myself very well, it would do me just fine to go through life reading about it and learning about my 'quirks'. According to sources, at least three quarters of those with an autistic spectrum disorder experience sensory processing issues to some degree. In this post, I'm not going to pretend I'm an expert but I will simply relay to you some things I've heard, seen, read about or experienced. I also am not using this post to promote my own store items to you, I will be talking more generally about the types of things available, therefore leaving you with the option of researching things at your own pace, on whichever other sites you choose/feel comfortable with. 

The link between this and my business, House of Callaway, comes from when I saw just how many young women experience issues with sensory processing. Sensory processing issues can include but are not limited to disliking loud noises, certain lightings (such as flashing lights) or being uncomfortable while wearing certain fabrics (just to name a few examples). Of course, this issue is most certainly experienced by some men too but today I'd just like to focus on ladies and the problems they can face. While I do not personally experience sensory processing issues, I know that there are a vast number of women out there who do.

So, moving on from what I have just mentioned, can you imagine living with a sensory processing disorder where certain feelings against your skin cause distress to you? Can you imagine living that way and, when you get your period each month, you have to use itchy, plastic backed disposable pads? Or, face the situation of having to use tampons that can feel scratchy or dry you out? One can only begin to imagine the levels of distraction this would cause in everyday life, if not, a complete inability to get on with your day due to the discomfort experienced from having things so uncomfortable used on your sensitive areas.

My mind began to whir into action when I truly realised how much these women must struggle ever month. Not to mention the potential embarrassment that some might feel if they need a carer's help to manage the situation successfully. I thought of how uncomfortable I had personally felt each month before trying cloth menstrual pads (the itching, the sweating, the rashes...) and compared it in my mind to how I feel now, using cloth. To briefly explain, cloth pads are pieces of shaped and sewn cloth designed to have a water resistant backing, absorbent core, comfortable top material and snaps to fasten them around your underwear. They can come in all shapes, sizes, colours and in a choice of fabrics according to preference and flow. I feel that, for me, the main advantages have been the comfort (no more nasty feelings as mentioned previously), the fact that their pretty colours really seem to lift my mood when I feel down during my time of the month and the lack of rustling when changing them in a quiet bathroom. Some other advantages that other women rank highly are that they have less chemicals in them (therefore making them potentially safer if you worry about this) and they benefit the environment greatly when compared with disposables (since you can wash and reuse them for a very long time). Purchasing a set once and reusing them also helps to save a lot of money in the long run.

Me holding my menstrual cup (front) and a cloth pad (behind)

Another thing I feel is worth mentioning here is menstrual cups. Menstrual cups are medical grade silicone, flexible cups that are designed to collect fluid rather than absorb it like tampons do. They can be purchased in a range of shapes and sizes depending on your needs. You can leave them in for eight hours before emptying (twelve with some brands). During the same time I tried cloth pads, I bought a menstrual cup to try and, do you know what? It was the best thing I ever did. Gone were the days where I'd want to go swimming and I'd have to use tampons (which would leave me irritated, dried out and uncomfortable all day). Also, if I didn't want to that day, I didn't have to feel the blood leaving my body since the protection was both internal and undetectable once it was fitted correctly. It also was a very easy process to learn for me personally - I mastered it with no leaks from day one. Linking back to the topic, I feel as though the internal protection of a menstrual cup minus the irritation and drying action of a tampon would be a potentially good option for someone with sensory processing issues. It can provide the option of more or less forgetting about your period and it’s difficulties until you need to clean it many hours later and can even be used on lighter days as it does not dry you out. It also allows for women to learn to use them themselves and only need to clean it once or twice during the daytime then once before bed, therefore minimising the amount of situations where someone may need to help them with dealing with their period.

I hope this blog post has helped to shine a light on the issues that people with sensory processing disorders can have when it comes to menstruation. I wanted to write this to hopefully give some helpful recommendations to those struggling to find an appropriate, comfortable product to handle their periods since, if it wasn’t for other bloggers and video makers, I would never have even known about the things mentioned here.  As usual, if anyone has any questions or comments, feel free to leave them down below.

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