Malin Andersson says tampons and pads aren’t free ‘because we’re women’ as she discusses period shaming

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I was about 12 years old when I first got my period. I remember being really embarrassed about it and hiding my pad in my bra to go to the toilet.

My mum, Consy, was really good about. She cried and was like, 'Aww, you're a woman now'. I didn't know if anybody else had had their periods in my year, so I kept quiet about it for about five months.

I felt a bit like, 'Oh what's happened to me?' Like I was growing up – as if I wasn't a child anymore because of it.

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It used to be stressful to try and hide the fact that I was on my period. I had to make sure the pad was in my bra before the class started so that when I left the class I didn't draw attention to it.

When you're a child, you shouldn't have to worry about that stuff because it's normal. But it wasn't normalised enough.

I remember trying to put a tampon on for the first time – my sister had to direct me from outside the toilet.

There were some girls at school that hadn't started their periods yet and boys, too, probably who didn't really understand it. They seemed a little, for lack of a better word, grossed out by the idea of a period.

I used to get really bad pain, cramps. I used to keep it in, made sure I kept paracetamol with me and didn't tell anyone around me. I was a really shy girl.

Not only is period shaming a thing, but we're also made to pay for sanitation products. I think it should be free. If you can get condoms for free everywhere, why can't you do the same for tampons and pads? It doesn't make sense at all.

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It seems like they're not free because we're women. Men get free condoms, and they're men. We don't wear the condoms, do we? Having sex is a choice, being on your period isn't a choice.

Tampons and pads should be free – imagine walking around without wearing one, blood would be everywhere.

Lots of people have a period – you should be comfortable with it. Perhaps there should be more awareness around it to remove the stigma.

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I'm open about periods now because it's almost like a reminder to me that I was pregnant and lost my child. It's a reminder that you don't have a kid.

When Consy died and I first got my period it was the most heartbreaking thing. It was like, 'S**t, okay, your period is back. Your baby's not here'.

It reminds me that my reproductive system is working but I'm not pregnant anymore. It's a bit of trigger sometimes, but not all the time. It's part of PTSD.

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