For years I suffered irritations during my period. They were, in my mind, 'not debilitating enough' to seek help. After all, periods were often approached negatively by the women around me and in the media, so I accepted this wasn't necessarily meant to be a positive time of the month.
How wrong I was.
After moving from Hong Kong to Shanghai in 2015, I met Jing, a scientist and fiercely passionate female health advocate who told me about the dangerous chemicals used in many big brand period products. I stopped using them immediately and, perhaps unsurprisingly, my irritations went away.
After this, Jing and I began speaking to other women across Greater China about their relationship with menstruation. This revealed a collective frustration towards periods that transcended education, age and ethnicity. From young girls experiencing their first periods to women navigating menopause, the fear and confusion around our bodies was something we seemed destined not to graduate from.
And it wasn't just monthly irritations that were being dismissed. In many cases, debilitating menstrual symptoms were restricting women's lives or being overlooked, when they were likely signs of serious underlying health issues. To us, it was unacceptable that this was the status quo for so many women today.