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ASPartOfMe
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05 Apr 2022, 1:21 pm

Caveat: This article and report was produced by a company that makes feminine hygine products.

NEW REPORT BREAKS STIGMA AROUND AUTISM AND PERIODS THIS AUTISM AWARENESS MONTH

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Although a discussion about neurotypical people's period cycles has started in recent years, the same can't be said for those on the autism spectrum. Many feel unheard and uninformed, with almost half (49%) of autistic people reported not understanding their period, a third (30%) said it takes as long as four-to-five years to learn to manage it, over half (59%) aren't comfortable enough to talk about it and 16% had to teach themselves about the cycle.

On average it takes four-to-five years for almost a third (30%) of those on the autism spectrum to learn how to manage their period, compared to just one year for a massive 38% of neurotypical people. Reasons for this do vary but this new research shows that it could be down to autistic people having different experiences when it comes to their senses, mental health, physical effects, communication, and knowledge of the reproductive system and period products.

Most people with periods struggle with a whole range of mental and physical issues during the cycle, including bloating, depression, anxiety, headaches, back pain, cramps, cravings, tender and swollen breasts, fatigue and insomnia1.

Almost all participants (96%) said that they experience emotional changes during a period, with over a third (38%) confirming that mood changes were in their top three worries that they had before their period.

Alongside mood changes, 42% of autistic participants said that they were concerned about heavy bleeding during their period and 42% said they were most worried about period cramps.

The findings show that 41% of autistic people don't feel confident talking to close friends or family about their period with another 18% feeling very unconfident. This is in contrast to the neurotypical sample where 74% said they felt either confident or very confident. Perhaps a struggle with communication is what has led 16% of autistic people to teaching themselves about periods.

Almost half (49%) of autistic people don't understand their period cycle completely and when asked to identify the cervix on an image of the female reproductive system, a massive 39% of people on the autism spectrum failed to identify it correctly.

Four out of five (83%) autistic people find period products difficult to use, with a third (34%) citing using sanitary products as the third biggest concern when it comes to their period. However almost a quarter (24%) of autistic people said that they prefer to use menstrual cups.

Psychotherapist, Steph Jones (MBACP)
, said: "Those on the autism spectrum, like myself, might struggle to talk about periods because they feel ashamed, or it might be connected to the social challenges experienced by many autistic people. For example, not asking for help because it leaves individuals open to the possibility of being dismissed, humiliated or invalidated."

"It's also extremely common to experience some feelings of depression and anxiety just before a period starts. To help with this I would recommend keeping track of moods to determine whether they seem related to hormonal changes or reveal an underlying issue. Tracking will also help reduce the anxiety of not knowing when you are due to start your period. An easy way to track is to note it down in a journal or use an app to follow your cycle."

Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist for INTIMINA, Dr Shree Datta, adds: "Periods are the most natural thing in the world, with most people experiencing them, so always ask for advice because periods are part of our health cycle, not something anyone should feel embarrassed about."


How people on the autism spectrum experience and manage their periods A report by INTIMINA


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Joe90
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05 Apr 2022, 1:49 pm

I've never felt embarrassed or unable to discuss my periods with female relatives and friends, even when I first started (I even talk to my boyfriend about periods). I knew about periods from about the age of 4, as my mum told me about it. So I was 100% ready when I started my periods at 13 years old.

The only thing I had trouble with was the cramps and the length of the periods. I didn't have really heavy bleeding as such, but I did suffer agonizing cramps that was like getting flu every month, and the period would last up to 10 days, still being painful during the last few days. So I had to go on the pill when I was 18 and I've been on it ever since. It's lessened the cramps to a more bearable limit.

The thing I do get really embarrassed about discussing is flatulence. I don't know why, because I know it's natural to fart and everything but I still get embarrassed about it. So this will probably result in me dying from an unrecognised cancer in my bowels due to avoiding the embarrassment of seeing a doctor and having colonoscopies.


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HeroOfHyrule
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05 Apr 2022, 1:59 pm

I was really lucky that I lived in a state with good, comprehensive sex education and that I had access to the internet when I was growing up. No one in my family talked about things like this to me, and I wouldn't know how to deal with the issues I have with my period (heaviness, occasional irregularity, etc.) without it.



Sweetleaf
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05 Apr 2022, 3:13 pm

I learned about periods in sex ed, so that was helpful as I knew what to expect.

I did have one embarassing time though in 6th grade where it was a very heavy flow and I ran out of pads so the one I had overflowed and it was leaking through my underwear. It was at the end of the day and close to time to get on the bus. I knew I wouldn't last the hour bus ride home before it started leaking through my pants and I knew everyone would make fun of me and it would be horrible and I'd never live it down.

So I went to the office and had them call my mom to pick me up, they tried to refuse because i wouldn't tell them why(i was embarrassed) but I kept persisting that they had to. And yeah it even leaked a little in the car on the seat...for sure would have been way more embarrassing on the school bus.


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Edna3362
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09 Apr 2022, 9:19 pm

In my case:

Learning what a period is, along with anatomy and it's biological mechanics is easy.
Learning what to do with the basics of hygiene, and other implements related to it is easy.

Learned all that before/did all after first day of my period. Which is at age 13, just before school started.
I didn't even had a sex-ed -- I just figured it out myself.

Products, in my experience, is easy -- I'm not one of the clumsy types, nor one of the easily squik types, nor am one of the easily irritated types.
I came from a part of the world where tampons are a rarity -- so we got pads instead. I had never used one, or actually seen one in real life my whole life.

Stocking a product at home is easy. Mainly because it's just women in my house.


However:

Learning and the thought about bringing at least a pad or two anywhere took me few years. 5+ years after, which is years during high school, just before college.

Learning to anticipate when the next period starts isn't. Because I started out as irregular. Therefore even a calendar period app won't do much for me.
Learning WHY and HOW my periods are usually irregular took me years -- over 10 years. And nothing official yet.

Learning to distinguish between sensory related migraines, period related stress and then noticing sensory sensitivities over an already sensitive sensory system is not easy.

Learning what signs of ovulation actually is for me is took me over 8+ years. There's knowing what ovulation is, and there's what ovulation feels like.
Learning that ovulation made me prone to insomnia and other symptoms took years.

Learning that gut related issues fluctuates along with the reproductive cycle is not easy.
Learning that cravings and other sorts of impulses that costed me both my daily functioning, time and resources are actually relate to my reproductive cycle took me years.
Over 13 years -- meaning it's very recent for me. And still barely controlling it.

Learning that during and after ovulation fluctuates my energy levels took years -- over 12+ years I say.
Learning what to do after ovulation and what to manage weeks before period, including and not limited to PMS -- I haven't been there yet.



What helped me??
Most of my SPED teacher's prodding over 8+ after my first period. Basically, when I was already over 20. While I say a little about it.
And it actually took me years to attempt to communicate about it.
Then after, what, almost 5-7 years of that, along with the poor attempts to track it, which is about, well, just this year -- I had tried to attempt to planning and trying.


I'd say I wouldn't just limit the topic of the whole cycle long issues to the particular 3-8 days long menstruation related part of the issues.

Oh, and I never been in a birth control before.
And mainly because I also never been checked by an OB GYN before.
Had years thinking about it. Barely communicating about it.


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Last edited by Edna3362 on 09 Apr 2022, 10:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

MjrMajorMajor
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09 Apr 2022, 10:04 pm

I was an early developer and started menses at 11. I knew what it was on a general level, but it was never something to talk about. It just felt shameful and embarrassing. On top of it I would get nauseous and sick during due to a condition I found out decades later.
Puberty was hell. Not due to autism but definitely exacerbated by.



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16 Apr 2022, 8:24 am

I was gifted a book called "For girls" written by a German lady (translated into Chinese) when I was little. So I've learned all about tips for European girls, which was not all that practical for communist China back then. Many women were still using wadded toilet papers and period garters. :D Anyway I modernized as soon as I could and started using digital tampons (O.B.). It's wonderful to not feel wet at all most of the time. It's certainly a lifesaver. I don't mind a bit of cramps or fatigue as long as I don't feel any leaking. Using pads would be like leaking and oozing all the time. 8O

*Back then having periods was open information. You couldn't hide it exactly. Every girl got up to three days of exemption from PE class. You see a row of them sitting on the sideline chatting and know they all have periods. :) Plus the government kept records of our cycles. A log book was passed from girl to girl every month to document her latest period, date, length, number of pads used, any symptoms...etc. I was afraid I wouldn't remember so I kept my own period log. I still have it. It's got about 36 years of period data. :D This all seem so strange now. There was no stigma talking about health issues back then. Health care was covered 100% and you get all the time you need to take off to recover. Sick leave pay was 100% of your salary.


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IsabellaLinton
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16 Apr 2022, 9:59 am

My mother didn't teach me anything about menstruation. I grew up pre-internet and only learned about periods by reading Judy Blume books. I had my first period a year before Sex Ed classes started at school, but those classes were useless anyway. They consisted of mimeographed drawings of the female reproductive system displayed on an overhead projector. It was far too abstract for me.

When I had my first period I was too uncomfortable to tell my mother so I hid it for a full week. When she finally saw my things in the wash, she told me that it wasn't my period because it didn't look right and that I was menstruating wrong. I have no idea what that meant, but that's the last time she ever discussed it. I had to figure out how to get to the shops and buy my own products, which I kept hidden out of sight.

To this day she hasn't taught me about sex either.



Joe90
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16 Apr 2022, 10:23 am

Quote:
Plus the government kept records of our cycles. A log book was passed from girl to girl every month to document her latest period, date, length, number of pads used, any symptoms...etc.


WTF??? 8O


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SharonB
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16 Apr 2022, 4:42 pm

The first decades it was so painful. The irregularity in length and flow were/are difficult for me. It significantly impacts my moods (good and bad there). Every woman in my family has hormone-triggered migraines.

An NT friend instructed me in how to use a tampon.



blueroses
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19 Apr 2022, 7:47 pm

y-pod wrote:
Plus the government kept records of our cycles. A log book was passed from girl to girl every month to document her latest period, date, length, number of pads used, any symptoms...etc.


Oh, wow. And, where I live people get worked up over the state having a record of if they've been vaccinated against Covid or not.

Was this for some kind of study? What was the purpose?



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20 Apr 2022, 4:35 am

y-pod wrote:
Plus the government kept records of our cycles. A log book was passed from girl to girl every month to document her latest period, date, length, number of pads used, any symptoms...etc.

I am surprised by your statement.

I have lived in China all the time, in a small city and a big city. My mother is about your age and she said she never knew there was such a thing.
A similar thing she knew was that family planning clerks would ask married women when they had their last menstrual period (to determine if they were pregnant).
Another similar situation I know of is that very few schools try to record girls' menstrual times in case they lie to avoid gym class - such schools are condemned by others.

Are you sure that this kind of activity you describe is being carried out by the government?Maybe there was some misunderstanding in the middle?
I don't deny that you may have experienced this, but it definitely surprised me.

我也是中国人,我妈与你同龄,我问她她说我在胡扯。
你确定你在描述政府行为?中间是不是有误会?
我个人没经历过计生严打时代,但你说的这个闻所未闻。网上查不到任何相关说法。
这可能是你的真实经历, 但这绝对震惊我。这是不是哪个地方政府或者某个街道办干的?


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21 Apr 2022, 6:42 am

I didn't learn what a period was until I had my first one...probably because my puberty onset was very precocious and it wasn't expected as soon as it was. I was almost 10 at the time and I started bleeding in class at school. I thought I was ill at the time and got really scared, so my teachers had to pull me to one side and explain it to me via social stories.


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21 Apr 2022, 6:43 am

For governments to log periods though if that is true is extremely creepy 8O


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21 Apr 2022, 4:56 pm

Leahcar wrote:
I didn't learn what a period was until I had my first one...probably because my puberty onset was very precocious and it wasn't expected as soon as it was. I was almost 10 at the time and I started bleeding in class at school. I thought I was ill at the time and got really scared, so my teachers had to pull me to one side and explain it to me via social stories.


Age 10 isn't considered precocious nowadays, though it may have been different when you were growing up. (Apologies for the non-trans-inclusive source.)

https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/talk- ... ation.html
Quote:
When do most girls get their period?
Most girls get their first period when they're between 10 and 15 years old. The average age is 12, but every girl's body has its own schedule.



y-pod
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29 Apr 2022, 9:23 pm

SkinnedWolf wrote:
y-pod wrote:
Plus the government kept records of our cycles. A log book was passed from girl to girl every month to document her latest period, date, length, number of pads used, any symptoms...etc.

I am surprised by your statement.

I have lived in China all the time, in a small city and a big city. My mother is about your age and she said she never knew there was such a thing.
A similar thing she knew was that family planning clerks would ask married women when they had their last menstrual period (to determine if they were pregnant).
Another similar situation I know of is that very few schools try to record girls' menstrual times in case they lie to avoid gym class - such schools are condemned by others.

Are you sure that this kind of activity you describe is being carried out by the government?Maybe there was some misunderstanding in the middle?
I don't deny that you may have experienced this, but it definitely surprised me.


It's possible that our school was participating in some sort of study. I wouldn't know if it's common in other area or not. Given that our schools did annual checkup on every student and had given immunizations, nobody asked too many questions regarding their roles in health care. Every year they checked our height, weight, eye sight, hearing, blood pressure...etc. and kept a record of those as well. I'm sure they needed to submit those to the health ministry. I suspect it's part of the requirement for getting the extra funding.

I have read a few papers regarding the growth statistics of Chinese children. Obviously someone collected those data and made them available to researchers. :)


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