Period shame – time to speak up. Because we all bleed right?

I was 12 years old when I started my periods and I remember vividly the embarrassment of buying sanitary towels from the only place within walking distance – one of of those corner shop type places that sold random brands of crisps you’d never heard of out of cardboard boxes and ‘Happy Shopper’ washing up liquid.

Suffice to say I was NOT a happy shopper.

It was the very early 90s, and I’m not sure that sanitary products were quite as advanced as they are now. My cornershop definitely didn’t stock anything with a silky soft finish, or wings, or a lockaway core. They sold pads in packs of ten that were roughly the size and shape of a rolled up tea towel. The insides were basically cotton wool, so they immediately clumped in a very uncomfortable and inefficient fashion.

There was no rollerblading going on when you had one of those beasts wedged in your pants, that’s for sure.

Wearing them to school was horrendous, and there was always the worry that your period would start when you weren’t expecting it, that you’d end up with blood on your clothes, or worst still, that someone would be able to SMELL you. Was that a thing when you were in school?? I felt kind of RIPE when I had my period, like everyone would be able to smell the metal tang of blood in the air as I walked through the corridors.

Things have come a long way of course, but that embarrassment, that period shame, still lingers.

According to recent research in fact, 71% of girls in the UK have felt embarrassed buying sanitary products, and a further 67% would feel embarrassed if they found period blood on their clothes.

That’s not cool is it? Do you feel shame or embarrassment attached to your period? Do you know ho the young women in your life feel about theirs? It’s not okay that periods are viewed like this.

It’s LIFE. It’s what happens. WE ALL BLEED. Get over it.

This International Day of the Girl, Plan International UK wants to tackle the stigma and bring the issue to centre stage with Plaster Pads: miniature sanitary pads that are worn like plasters for all the world to see.

plaster pads blood is blood campaign

plaster pads blood is blood campaign

Plan International UK are distributing boxes of ‘Plaster Pads’, printed with slogans that highlight the need to remove the stigma around blood; after all, blood is blood.

What do you think of the idea? Is it something we need to be much more open about and how can we go further to challenge the stigma? Would you happily wear a Plaster Pad?

Find out more about the We All Bleed campaign here, and check out the hashtag #weallbleed too.

plaster pads blood is blood campaign



  1. 11 October, 2017 / 7:58 pm

    I’m totally with you when you say we need to normalise periods. I was mortified to find blood on my light coloured jeans during my last period, horrified that a colleague (90% men) had seen it. I like the idea of the plasters but not sure I’m brave enough to do it

  2. Maria
    11 October, 2017 / 8:43 pm

    I had a discussion about periods the other day with my 8 year old son. He’d watched a YouTube video and it had mentioned tampons (the chemicals they have in them and how they might not be good for your body) and he was asking me lots of questions. I answered his questions in the best way possible and thought nothing of it. Afterward, my MIL suggested to me that it was maybe not appropriate to have discussed it with him… and that there is the problem – if we treat periods like a dirty little secret then young girls will always feel like they’re something to be embarrassed about! This is not a new problem, but it is one we can start to make change!

    • Jo Middleton
      12 October, 2017 / 6:25 pm

      It’s just this isn’t it? Why on earth would it be inappropriate to talk to a child about periods? That would be like denying the existence of the digestive system or something! It’s bizarre isn’t it?

  3. Millie
    11 October, 2017 / 10:07 pm

    When I was a teen, sanitary pads were not disposable. We had to wait till father went to bed and burn them on the coal fire. We’ve come a long way since then but still have some to go.

    • Jo Middleton
      12 October, 2017 / 6:24 pm

      Wow – I should really be grateful then!

  4. Jo
    11 October, 2017 / 10:48 pm

    That brought back memories! I certainly felt that I was emitting a ‘RIPE’ smell in school. The logistics of carrying around those huge tea towels was difficult in itself, I remember my Mum kindly sewed an inside pocket into my blazer for transporting them! Cute plasters.

    • Jo Middleton
      12 October, 2017 / 6:23 pm

      A secret pocket is an ingenious solution! Plus at school you never know who is going to find it HILARIOUS to empty your bag onto the floor…

  5. 20 October, 2017 / 10:10 am

    Believe it or not, periods are a favourite subject of mine. Why? because I’ve noticed, as your blog post alludes to, women can feel uncomfortable talking about them and men, with no practical experience of talking about them, often feel equally uncomfortable.

    I am a dad of daughters and I’ve had many discussions with my kids about periods, despite their young ages. Plan’s idea makes sense. Anything to get people talking about something so natural is a good idea.

    I’ll stick my neck on the line and say there is an issue with the way many girls are raised. Periods are to be hushed up and not spoken about in polite company. Of course there’s a time and a place, but such an approach gives women a complex so they don’t talk to their daughters about it and pass these attitudes on. I know of people with teenaged daughters who have never spoken to their kids about periods.I feel so sad when this happens.

    • Jo Middleton
      20 October, 2017 / 1:17 pm

      I totally agree with you John, and I think it would be helpful for EVERYONE if we talked about them more. I’m guessing that for guys it might actually be interesting or useful at least to actually understand the practicalities of how they work. I bet there are a lot of men for example who don’t really know things like how much blood you lose, or how you feel physically. The more we can talk about it the better!

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