I have multiple disabilities including physical, visual as well as autism. I’ve just finished 2 ½ years of work on the autism friendly guide to periods, but here I would like to talk more globally about periods and accessibility .

Just as with other everyday activities like washing and dressing managing periods can be difficult if you have additional needs.

Period supplies

There is now a lot of choice beyond the traditional tampons and pads

Period underwear

Underwear with added layers in the gusset a wicking fabric pulls the blood into the absorbent core.


  • Lots of style available and lots of sizes ,
  • They are washable
  • Will last for several years if not longer


  • Underwear costs from £25 +
  • ainly only available online not in shops.
  • Can feel a little wet from time to time as the liquid absorbs.

Menstrual cup 

A flexible small cup that is put inside the vagina to catch blood , it is emptied between2 and 4 times a day ( as per manufacturers instructions), they are mostly made from silicone but some are made from TPE ( the stuff teats on baby bottles are made from) and latex are available.

Cups have different levels of firmness and your vaginal muscle strength and you dexterity may make some cups more suitable then others.


  • You can swim while using a menstrual cup,
  • Small so you can always carry it with you,
  • ast 5-10 years (depending on the material they are made from)
  • Lots of styles available , for example the femmycycle, lunette, lilly cup compact are all quite different
  • No wet feeling


  • They require a lot of manual dexterity
  • They take time to learn
  • It can take time to get used to them
  • Initially cost is £20-35
  • No visual reminder to take it out empty it and re insert,
  • If you have a IUS or the coil there is a risk that when you break the suction you will pull it out
  • Not widely available in physical shops

Menstrual cloths/pads 

These are like sanitary towels however they are made from fabric so washable and therefore reusable, they are mostly sold online by individual makers, although a few larger operations exist, they consist of 3 layers top (closest to your skin) core (the middle) back ( goes on your underwear) they attach using poppers(snaps) to your underwear


  • Fully customisable ( if poppers are a problem a maker could add Velcro instead ),
  • Washable and therefore reusable
  • Easy to use and straightforward


  • It’s a pad so can feel a little wet from time to time
  • A bit of a outlay required sets start from £30
  • You may need to do washing more often if you run out
  • You need to be organised to carry a wet bag (waterproof bag to put used pads in
  • Can move slightly in your underwear

The other effects of periods

There are many and I can’t list them all here but executive functioning seems an important one since it can impact on your ability to get tasks done.

Executive functioning

 Executive functioning is the process your brain goes through figuring out what tasks you need to do, when you should start them, how long it will take etc so basically planning and problem-solving, if you have a brain injury and your executive functioning is effected anyway having a extra load of managing a period can be hard and if you have executive functioning difficulties heightened during PMS this can really get in the way.

There are a few options:

The pill the pill comes in either the combined pill that has oestrogen and progesterone or the progesterone only pill, there are about 20 different types of each, some people report it having a. Negative impact on their mood however this is not everyone and you may find a change of brand does the trick ,

Using apps to help plan your tasks  you could use something like padlet or trello for regular tasks, padlet is like a online pinboard , you can use a template to set it up like a mind map, or calendar or columns using each row for an individual step, you might find adding photos for example from Sunsplash or symbols from the noun project are helpful , so essentially your doing the thinking before you need to.

Using services like brain in hand – brain in hand offer an online service which allows you to put your calendar into the app and website and pre-empty problems and provide solutions, but it can also be attached to a mentoring service so if it all gets too much you can talk to someone who can talk you through the problem and see what you’ve tried already.

a note on PMDD

PMD stands for premenstrual dysphoric disorder, in reality this looks like ana cute episode of depression just before and sometimes for the first day or two of a [period, if b PMSW is debilitating have a look at PMDD. https://www.mind.org.uk/media/13577551/understanding-pmdd-2017.pdf