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Interview with Period Powerhouse: Mahitha Kasturi (she/her)
Team August
|
8.9.2021

@mahithakasturi

Introduce yourself! Who are you?

Mahitha Kasturi is my name, and I'm 21 years old. I live in Hyderabad, India.

What do you do?

I'm a Biotechnology graduate who de-stresses by dancing and painting. I'm a huge lover of true crime podcasts and movies. I'm a firm believer in women's empowerment and want to see menstrual hygiene standards improve around the world.

How did you find your passion and purpose?

I'm a Biotechnology graduate who de-stresses by dancing and painting. I'm a huge lover of true crime podcasts and movies. I'm a firm believer in women's empowerment and want to see menstrual hygiene standards improve around the world.

Passion is an easy thing to tell people to follow, but it's a bad cliche. Being in the prime of my life, I'm expected to be passionate and ambitious. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't want to be these things, but I believe I have a lot more self-discovery to do. I've always felt compelled to find my calling, which only made the process stressful and worse for me. I was done with my bachelor's a couple of months ago and I was unsure of what do to next. So I set out to look for work opportunities just because my peers had been doing the same. I wanted to be financially independent and that was my only goal. But, for better or worse, despite being given positions at various organisations, I continued to decline them because I knew deep down that I was meant for something larger.

Seeing my friends landing interesting professions, I was disappointed to learn that I would not be able to achieve financial stability anytime soon. This phase of my life took a toll on my mental, physical and social states. But one day, I stumbled across something on an Instagram page and it has stuck with me ever since - "spend less time watching other peoples live their lives and spend more time enjoying your own". It really made me contemplate how I've been living my life and in a bizarre way, this sense of understanding was the kickstart to my journey of finding my purpose.

I started improving my passions like seeking professional dance and yoga training, as well as creating art not just for the aesthetics, but for myself and to help me communicate emotions that I couldn't normally describe. This whole process gave me a clear head and time to reflect on my life's purpose. What are my professional objectives? How do my professional choices have a positive influence on society? This led me to find a deep interest in pursuing a degree in the field of public health. I learnt that by being a public health practitioner, I get to work directly with patients, improve the health and well being of other people and communities. And knowing that I'll be able to make a lasting impression to improve society, gave me the ultimate motivation in life, which is why I'm currently working on moving halfway across the world to live my purpose.

How does menstruation exist in your life?

I'm a five-foot tall female menstruator who bleeds more than the usual, the usual being 4-5 days a month. I had my first period at the tender age of 10. Despite having been physically healthy my whole life and having no medical history, I have been dealing with heavy period flows all my life and I simply thought this is something menstruators have to put up with until menopause.

Because I grew up in a country where tampons and other menstrual products were almost unheard of, I was constrained to use pads for the majority of my adolescence. I absolutely loathed wearing sanitary pads during school and was extremely uncomfortable wearing my short uniform under the constant fear of leaking through my skirt. And as expected, my fears usually turned out to be true, I used to leak through my skirt and would be sent home. I had always been extremely talented in sports and other physical activities but the onset of my menstruation made me gradually give up on my interests. I had started to find this completely natural body functioning gross and avoided exploring my vagina. I spent most of my teenage under constant mood swings. I also noticed that I experienced frequent vaginal discharge which led me to think I was abnormal. I never had the luxury of medication for these issues up until recent years. This led me to be sexually inactive with partners. I restricted myself from being in relationships, I observed how my periods took a toll on my academics.

One a random day during my senior year, I suddenly noticed huge clots of blood just dripping down my vagina. I was sent home right away to take some medication and rest, but I assumed it to be another mishap, so I did nothing. I had to change pads every two hours and the big clots continued. I was experiencing extreme blood loss and was immediately rushed to the hospital. I was extremely anaemic. The doctor indicated the chances of me getting diagnosed with PCOS. She had put me on birth control, vitamin supplements and a wide range of pills. Being under the constant influence of birth control and other meds at such a young age resulted in various side effects like hormonal acne, hair loss, and depression. When I inquired about the cause of my poor menstrual health, she indicated that it was due to a hormonal imbalance caused by mental anguish. Hormonal imbalance not only led to bad menstrual health but also gave me a whole lot of other side effects including hirsutism.

She suggested I start going to therapy to improve my condition. And until recently I went to regular therapy sessions but discontinued them due to lack of motivation and time. I didn't feel like I was getting the help I needed. But I wanted to improve my lifestyle by eating healthier, adopting a genuine and upbeat outlook on life, and eliminating anything toxic that makes me feel anxious or stressed. And these adjustments not only helped me maintain my physical health, but they also helped me regulate my mental wellbeing. I switched the usage of non-degradable pads with menstrual cups and my life has been so much easier ever since. I had slowly started exploring my vagina, my sexuality and so far have been feeling much better with my body. I still face similar problems that make me rush to hospitals, but I now have more strength and patience to endure these difficulties.

Do you have a funny period story?

Ha! This takes me back to high school. Looking back at this incident, I realise how bizarre and funny the whole situation really was. On a fine day at school, I had spent the entire day playing sports and then had gone to my classroom to sit for a while during the last hour. As I was going home, I noticed I had stained my skirt, which meant I had also stained the desk I was sitting on. The next day, I arrived at class to find a couple of guys staring at the stain, seeming perplexed. I went to have a look at the stain and saw that it had become dark and rusted, thanks to oxidation. Yes, that was an unpleasant situation to be in. I pretended I didn't know what it was and said it was either chocolate sauce or a gravy stain. I swiftly went and sat on another desk. And later, when all of my classmates had left for a break, I dashed over to my desk and cleaned the stain with water and tissues. So yeah, that was traumatizing as hell.

What advice would you give to younger menstruators out there?

Young menstruators have to be tuned to this aspect of their changing biology. Open communication between the parent and the child is necessary to avoid young teens believing they have abnormal bodies and health conditions. They must be taught about sex and encouraged to explore their sexuality. If ever given an opportunity, I would tell younger menstruators the following: -Do not be ashamed/afraid of the changes happening with your body. It's beautiful and absolutely natural. -Never be afraid to stand up for yourself. You are the only one who defends yourself. -Do not let social media mislead you, there is no rush to grow up. -Explore your sexuality. -Get out of your comfort zone and try developing and working towards your interests. -There's a thin line between being a baddie and being ill-mannered. Know the difference.

What’s your favorite August product? Or why does August resonate with you?

Unfortunately, I have never had the pleasure of experiencing any of the August products, since I live outside the US and Canada. But the whole idea of August is so new and intriguing to me. I have never seen anything like the brand. I love how strongly the organisation advocates for menstrual hygiene, inclusivity, sustainability and how environmentally conscious it is. And the aesthetic of the website is to die for! From the wide range of products the brand produces, the biodegradable pads are my absolute favourite. The usage of materials like Japanese Sumitomo super absorbent polymer, which I had never heard of before, is what makes this product stand out. August's commitment to ensuring transparency between the consumer and the product's manufacture is admirable. Perhaps one day I'll be able to purchase the products!

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