The renewed conversation on menstrual health in the region has been led by strong women such as Olivia Cotes-James, whose brand LUÜNA naturals is shifting the menstrual product landscape in greater China and Hong Kong. We sat down with Olivia to have an open and honest conversation about menstrual health and why we, both ladies and gents, should care about it.
Originally from the UK, Olivia has spent time in Hong Kong before moving to Shanghai. Her experience across different cultures and working with different people in advertising made her realise there is a huge gap in the menstrual care industry – one which she plans to fill. After a year of product research, LUÜNA naturals was born in 2017 – with a firm purpose to drive awareness around the consequences of using traditional period care products and to create healthier choices for women living in Asia.
Years of research has revealed that the global silence around menstrual health is both a barrier to women’s everyday happiness and a genuine threat to our health. So many women overlook the symptoms of underlying health issues like PMDD, endometriosis or PCOS, believing their pain to be an unfortunate but unavoidable result of menstruation. Oftentimes, these symptoms go untreated and develop into chronic health issues, ruining women’s lives.
Men are essential to the conversation too because you cannot create deep impactful change by only educating half of society. Guys should also play an active role in understanding how they can help improve it.
It actually does not have to be naturally painful or restrictive. This is not simply due to poor product options, but because we have been conditioned to think menstruation is at best, annoying and at worst, totally debilitating. By getting the right products or treatment from medical professionals, a comfortable period is 100% possible.
A little research revealed some uncomfortable truths about the synthetics and chemicals used in big brand tampons and pads which are increasingly linked to chronic health problems – but no one’s talking about this! I was horrified and immediately switched to organic cotton products, which in turn cured the itches and irritations that had affected me during my period every month.
Everyone’s period is different and there is no one-size-fits-all rule to menstrual health. However, our periods are incredible indicators of our overall wellness, both physical and mental, so it’s important that we pay close attention to them. From color to consistency to frequency, by monitoring the changes we see in our periods, we can more deeply understand our physical and psychological wellbeing.
Across the world and especially in Asia, there is a lack of education around period product options which prevent women who are unhappy with sanitary pads from exploring other safe options. This leads to women restricting their lifestyles every single month, which of course contributes to feelings of frustration and oftentimes dread which it comes to their periods. Moving away from romanticized by traditional feminine care brands or communicated awkwardly through outdated biology textbooks through open conversation, trustworthy products, and relatable guidance, we will be able to bring in a new age for the feminine care industry.
I hope that through LUÜNA we can deeply impact the way society views womanhood in Asia. Beyond the development of new healthy and more sustainable period care products, we will develop educational programs for schools, companies, and corporations that will empower women to feel proud, comfortable and confident with regards to their menstrual health, redefining the female experience for women and girls across the region. Follow along on our journey and join the conversation on our Instagram!
From our Hot Seat series.