Talking periods with Sanitary Owl. What’s the big deal?

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period, menstruation, sanitary owl, children, daughters, education,
That’s me, pouring chainsaw oil over a liner for dramatic effect. I considered using red wine or cherry squash but thought it would be in bad taste.

As a dad blogger, I notice some interesting online behaviour. One of my biggest gripes is family or parenting orientated businesses that refuse to deal with dads, choosing solely to focus on mums.

That said, I’ve been doing this daddy blogging thing for three years. In that time I’ve noticed a general shift with more and more organisations seeking to engage with fathers. This positive shift acknowledges four trends;

  • Dad bloggers often have large female readerships
  • This is the 21st century and children are being raised by same sex couples
  • Men are increasingly involved in family life, more than ever before and
  • The slow, but steady, rise in the number of men such as myself who have sacrificed careers to be stay at home parents.

With all this in mind, I recently noticed an online campaign that struck a chord with me. It was for an organisation that operates a monthly subscription service for female sanitary products. Huge numbers of mums were writing about it and had great things to say.

I contacted the company concerned. “I think what you’re doing is really interesting,” I said, “I have two daughters, can I please see a sample?” I never received a response.

tampon, liner, sanitary owl, #periodpositive, review, sanitary owl
A tampon, caught in a mouse trap. Made you look didn’t it??

A few days ago I was approached by a different company operating in the same sphere called Sanitary Owl (Editor’s Note: Sanitary Owl has subsequently been renamed Dame and you can find out about them online here). The company has a male marketing exec called Alec who apparently wants to see the world; “drop the euphemisms and start talking about periods in a grownup way.” I was asked if I’d like to see a sample of Sanitary Owl’s subscription box? Oh yes, I certainly did.

You may be wondering why a man would be interested in such a service. I believe there are many reasons. Although my daughters are too young to have to worry about such issues, I am a stay at home father. I need to know about these things as I will have to deal with them in the future.

Common sense dictates that my wife will lead in the education of my daughters when it comes to menstruation. Even so, as an involved, stay at home father I’m going to have a major role in all of this and will have a big part in the discussions.

Secondly, fathers in general need to know this stuff.  According to the Office of National Statistics, almost 10% of the 1.9m lone parent families in the UK are headed by men. That’s just shy of 181,000 households where daddy will be talking to his daughters about periods. That’s before you take into account the millions of good, involved fathers who simply see this as part of their role (okay okay, not all fathers are heavily involved with their kids or comfortable with this stuff, but many of us are).

I’ve often heard of mothers discussing sexual development with their sons. Why wouldn’t a father discuss such things with his daughter?

I should also add that I have already had discussions with my eldest daughter about periods and menstruation. It is merely a fact of life. For me, receiving the Sanitary Owl box was nothing than an exploration of the products on the market, products that I will almost certainly be buying one day on behalf of my kids.

Enough of my ramblings. Let me get on and tell you about Sanitary Owl.

Sanitary Owl, review, reviews, period, periods, menstruation, children, education,
The Sanitary Owl subscription box. this particular box was the ‘First Period Box 10-12 Knickers’. Other options are available on the website.

According to the Sanitary Owl website, the service was the brainchild of a nameless mum whose period came on one day. She had no tampons so had to leave the house to buy some with an eight month old strapped to her chest in a carrier. She arrived at the store to discover it didn’t sell her desired absorbency. Realising that her husband’s contact lenses arrived in the post each month with the same regularity as her periods, Sanitary Owl was born.

To set up a subscription, you go online and fill in a few multiple choice questions. You can choose between different brands of tampons, liners or pads. Brands include Tampax, Bodyform Lil-lets and Natracare. You also select the absorbency and number of items you require.

You won’t be surprised to hear that prices vary depending on what you order. I’ve had a play with the system and the cheapest I got was £4.25 for a month’s supply and the most expensive £12.50 (these figures are illustrative, you may get different prices). It all depends what you are going to need and that’s a very personal matter.

There also a few one-off purchases you can make. The box I was sent was the First Period Box 10-12 Knickers. Sanitary Owl says this box is; “Full of the products, information and support a girl and her parent or guardian needs to have her first period.”

It has a price tag of £24.95 and for this you get a wide range of liners, pads, a pair of Diary Doll knickers and applicator and non-applicator tampons. It includes a discreet, small canvass bag for storing liners and tampons plus several disposable sacks for disposing of used items. It also includes a fetching bracelet. As the picture below shows, it didn’t quite look right on my masculine, hairy arm and so I gave it to my daughter.

One of the most useful items is a book called Have you started yet? Needless to say, it is all about periods and was written by children’s author Ruth Thomson and Chloë Thomson, a psychologist who specialises in issues affecting teenagers. Chapters include; Starting your periods, Why is my body changing? and What are periods like?

education, development, teenagers, period, periods, Sanitary Owl, reviews
One of the most useful items to feature in Sanitary Owl’s First Period Box; the book ‘Have you Started Yet?’

My wife wasn’t entirely convinced of the need for a subscription service. I, on the other hand, can well imagine many women probably do get caught out and may find this service useful. As for the First Period Box, I thought it was fantastic. I can imagine it will be very useful for any youngster to explore the products they may wish to use. It’s also a great educational tool for dads who may, naturally, not be quite as aux fait with periods as a woman.

I think it’s a great concept. I’m also delighted to see someone has been sensible enough to appreciate that periods and menstruation are subjects us dads need to know about. There’s a long way to go, but we’ve come a long way in three years.

62 thoughts on “Talking periods with Sanitary Owl. What’s the big deal?”

  1. It’s so easy for dads of daughter’s to say “Ask your mother” when it comes to periods. It has come up in conversation, and the only time I have said this is when my wife talks about how it feels – something I’ll obviously never know. The first period box is a great idea – for dads as well as kids!

    1. I can imagine some dads might respond that way to their kids. Not my style though, I’m quite happy to tackle the difficult subjects…not that menstruation should be difficult!

  2. Victoria Rothwell

    Good review of a practical product, especially post birth when things can sneak up on you. Would suggest you also discuss moon cups with your daughters when they are the right age- maybe not the first product to use but maybe substituted for tampons-no chemicals, less mess, less cost.

  3. Lucy Melissa Smith

    I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I started reading this but it was a great read and it’s refreshing to see you taking such a positive, leading role in this sort of stuff. I definitely think that both parents should be involved in these types of discussions, for both young girls and boys, as it’s such a changing time for children and I still don’t understand why it’s all secrets and hush hush. Obviously my LO is just a baby but I would definitely buy the first box if she was of age, I think the book and the bracelet are brilliant touches and may help to make the experience less daunting. X

    1. Interesting remarks Lucy. One of the stand-out comments from Have you started yet? is about girls keeping quiet about periods because they believe such things should be kept secret from boys. A culture of secrecy is then allowed to flourish where no one discusses menstruation. Totally avoidable if you ask me.

  4. Good review John and well done on showing that us dads are both capable and interested in discussing important topics such as this. It sounds a great concept and perfect to help in discussions with your kids about periods. Loving the bracelet, although that top picture is going to give me some nightmares with your sinister look 🙂

    1. Yes, I’ve received a few comments about that photograph! It’s been a great conversation starter. Us dads are indeed very capable of discussing such matters and we need to make the world understand this.

  5. Awesome post. I taught my sons about periods exactly the same as the girls, because they will encounter women in their lives, they may even end up sharing a house with them – it’s so much easier if it’s considered normal and not secretive or mysterious.
    That box looks ace – good value and really attractive, and the diary doll knickers are an excellent thing. I wear them myself 😀

    1. I won’t deny it, I DIDN’T try out the Diary Doll knickers for myself. I will take your word for it. You’re quite right to discuss periods with your boys in the same way. One day they may wish to start a family and that’s a bit tricky iof you don’t understand the basics of ovulation.

  6. Great post,I have two daughters in their teens,and I have always talked to them about these issues. it’s great that they can talk to me without embarrassment, being open is the only way forward unfortually these barriers take forever to take down but we are getting there yet again another fantastic post. Brilliant idea too.

    1. I think many more dads are comfortable with this stuff than the world realises. You’re a great example of this Nigel. I’ve got two daughters; I can’t and shouldn’t dodge these discussions. Glad you liked the post.

  7. I think this First Period Box is a great idea – I wish they were around when I was younger! I love that you’re able to try different brands to find out what works for you.

    Fab review 🙂

    1. Thanks Rebecca. Shame they weren’t around when you were younger. I just hope both your parents were approachable on this subject.

  8. Top work, John. How good to see a brand realise that dads should be included in the equation too. It’s likely that, when the time comes with Kara, it will be Mummy who takes the lead in this area, but why wouldn’t a dad who wants to have an active role as a parent want to have at least some awareness and knowledge? The gender barriers are definitely starting to break down for all the reasons you list, and things like this that contribute to that change can only be positive.

    1. I think it’s quite natural for a mum to take the lead in these discussions…but that won’t always be the case (see Tony’s comment below). Even so, dad needs to know about these things and we should all be able to discuss them without embarrassment.

  9. As a father of a girl who feels more comfortable talking to her dad rather than her mum, I too feel it’s very important for us to get our heads around it all. As a husband who’s been sent out at stupid times of the day on many occasions to buy menstrual products, I fully understand the market for a subscription service. A great post Sir.

    1. Brilliant comment there Tony; some daughters actively prefer to speak to their dad. As the stay at home parent this may turn out to be the case in my house so I need to be educated in these matters. Like you, I have also been dispatched to the shops to buy these products for my wife. It’s a fact of life, we all just need to deal with it.

  10. That sounds like a brilliant idea for a business, and will help so many young girls. Having been a young girl before, I’m all too aware how horrendous this can all be! Having a dad on board that is as savvy as you are will put your two in a very good place. Well done you for stepping out of your comfort zone 🙂

    1. Thanks Renee. I merely hope I am clued-up enough to help my kids when the time comes. It’s simply part of the job of being dad in my eyes.

  11. I love the first period box – that’s so cute and I well remember having a book like that (not so much about menstruation as personal grooming in general) which was my bible aged 13! Talking openly about it and dads getting involved without everyone getting squeamish is definitely a good thing so good work Mr Adams!

    1. I think it was a clever move by Sanitary Owl. Us guys don’t have periods and so don’t face quite the same social constraints. As a result we may possibly be a little more open? That’s not a universal statement, I think some men would run a mile rather than speak to their kids about menstruation but for those of us who are liberally minded, well, it’s merely a fact of life.

  12. What a great idea! It can be so embarrassing when you are younger and having a subscription service like this is ideal. Not that there is anything to be embarrassed about but I didn’t feel that way when I was younger. I love the idea of the First Period Box with the book and the bracelet. It can be a bit overwhelming so something like this can really help prepare. (I think the bracelet suits you haha)
    As for dad’s getting involved I think that’s key – it’s the only way it really is going to stop being something icky that we don’t really like to talk about.

    1. Interestingly the book states that girls keep quiet about periods because they think it is a secret to be kept away from boys. Periods then don’t get discussed in front of boys, boys never learn about it, those boys become men and fathers and some guys find it awkward as a result. It needs to be normalised. The inclusion of a bracelet is small, but may ultimately be quite a big step in achieving that.

  13. I don’t have a daughter but I can imagine that this would be an awesome learning tool for me, let alone her, should I ever have one. My knowledge is limited to what I’ve learned as an adult, and being a bloke that’s very little. It would be handy to know things of benefit.

    1. You’ve proven my point Brett! I think most guys are comfortable with periods and talking about it,. it’s just a lack of knowledge which isn’t a huge surprise. It’s also not helpful to point fingers. A box like this could be very helpful for foe dad and daughter.

  14. That sounds very impressive and you are a great dad to be thinking about these things. My daughter will be 10 in March and I STILL haven’t talked to her about periods! I bought a book for her a couple of months ago, but she’s been so busy and tired I haven’t had chance to talk to her about it. You’ve shamed me into it now, thanks!

    1. I hope that chat goes well. Sounds to me like you’ll be having it at about the correct time. Maybe even get Mr Mumofthreeworld involved???

  15. The First Period Box is such a great idea….It might be something to think about for my eldest who’s 13 and hasn’t started her periods yet….
    Good on you for talking about these things! x

    1. Well Kim, you know where to go if you want to try one out! It is a marvellous idea isn’t it? Simply normalises the situation I think.

    1. I won’t argue about the bracelet Fiona. She does, by the way, really like it! I really must do reviews like this more often. Thus far I’ve been called a “cool dad”, “enlightened” and now I can add “modern man” to the list!! My ego can’t cope.

  16. A great review and a very entertaining read. The first period box sounds like a good way to introduce girls without scaring them! Love the bracelet on you!! 😉 #TriedTested

    1. Ha ha, glad you liked the bracelet! A lot of people are saying the first period box is a great idea. Anything that simply makes periods a day yo day issue is to be encouraged I think.

  17. The stereotypes are nuts. I must admit my Mum told me about periods when I was about 8…luckily as a late bloomer I had a very long wait afterwards. I can still remember my Dad not batting an eyelid about nipping down to Tesco for some pads for me in an emergency and he was happy to point out any girly accidents without making me feel in the least bit embarrassed. That’s how it should be and hope you can get involved more. The product looks great and saves on running short! Love the bracelet pic xx #thetruthabout

    1. It’s good to hear of a dad from a different generation dealing with periods in such a way. I will certainly just want to normalise the situation and treat it as a fact of life.

  18. I am not sure about the subscription service. i would just add them to my tesco delivery order to be honest. I do, however, really like the first period box. I think it is a great way to show, as a parent, that you are really supportive and considerate of the actually quite traumatic time that your daughter is going through. Receiving a box of goodies like that would make anyone feel better, and during a first period, in fact on a monthly basis, you can feel a bit rubbish. Well done for writing about this, many men wouldn’t have and you have my utmost respect for doing so. Pen

    1. A few people have mentioned how difficult or traumatic the first period is. Not somes thing I had thought about it in great detail, I guess because I didn’t go through it. It does, however, show the value of such a service. Thanks for commenting.

  19. I blooming love this review! Good on you for tackling this head on – so many more dads should do the same! I’m actually rather impressed with this starter box, it is definitely something I would consider getting for my daughter in a couple of years time.

    1. Thanks Ali, I guess I did throw myself into this in a head on manner! I like to believe most dads are comfortable with this stuff but maybe don’t have all the necessary knowledge? Anyway, you know where to go in a couple of years!

  20. Great post, John, and reading your views as a Dad are always an interesting. I think it’s fabulous that you want to get involved and talk to your children, and break down any stereotypes or barriers around menstration for women and young girls. I’m sure your girls will appreciate your matter of fact-ness when their time comes. I really like this service and I think for a young girl (and I was one once!) the first service box could be invaluable. As a young girl I also remember spending time away from home for school & exchanges and having a delivery to places where you don’t know the area who be perfect for young girls. Anything to help normalise the experience because, after all, month menstruation is normal!
    Great review #TriedTested

    1. Breaking down barriers and confounding people is my thang Tracey! I hadn’t thought about deliveries to different destinations but I can well imagine that making huge sense. All about normalising the experience, as you say.

  21. Brilliant review John and so good to see dads writing about periods. I’m not sure if was ever something I really discussed with my own dad although hubby is fairly comfortable talking about things like that (just as well as we have two girls too!) The Sanitary Owl boxes sound great – what a brilliant idea and that first period box looks very useful. I especially like the fact that it includes Diary Doll knickers.

    1. Glad to hear your OH is comfortable talking about these things. As you say, you have daughters so he’ll need to get used to it. I think most guys are reasonably comfortable, they just lack a little knowledge which isn’t too surprising.

  22. absolutely prabulous

    Having grown up in the Indian culture where dads of my generation barely got involved in fathering never mind, talking periods and having the worst memory of how my mum handled my first experience of a period, I’m just all for reading a post like this, never mind the products themselves! Well done. I recently saw a post about Mooncup by the way…as you are an ‘enlightened’ man, may I suggest you look into that too? Safer for the female body apparently in the light of all the scares that have cropped up with tampons etc.

    1. Thanks Prabs. I do like to push boundaries every now and again. As for the moon cup, I have heard of it and someone else who left a comment also suggested it. I will keep it mind when the time comes.

  23. Really interesting. I think this could be a great service as I have to admit I am useless at buying these things and have to pop out specifically for them every month. You’d think after all these years I would be more prepared, but no, so this could really help. I also live your attitude to it all John and the fact that they contacted you about it as you are right it is a fact of life and men shouldn’t feel they don’t need to know about it. Your girls are lucky to have a dad like you xx

  24. I think this is a pretty handy idea, especially the First Period box. I was only 11 when I started and remember even now feeling very anxious and unnerved by the whole thing – a box, and especially the book, would have definitely helped.

    Also, good on you for exploring this topic. You’re absolutely right, in a world where there are many SAHDs and where dads are generally more hands-on than in previous generations it’s really important that fellas let go of the squick factor and get more comfortable discussing this with their daughters. I remember begging my mum not to even tell my dad because I felt so awkward lol! Even though we were (are) so close in every other area.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂 #thetruthabout

  25. It was lovely reading this post, my Mr is of the same opinion as you and know’s all there is to know about period’s & will happily chat to the girls when the time comes, I think it’s important too as mum’s aren’t always around & you should be able to go to either parent no matter what the problem is. Love the Sanitary Owl box too, make’s the whole starting periods thing a bit more pleasant with the book and bracelet etc

  26. You are absolutely right! Fathers do need to know about these things and I think this product is great to help both mothers and fathers discuss what can be an embarrassing subject with a young girl. Great post!

  27. Hurrah for Dads basically.
    You’re right – periods really aren’t something we talk about. I certainly don’t discuss mine with anyone on a regular basis – they’re unpleasant enough and I don’t really enjoy chatting about it. That said, I want my girls to feel comfortable to talk to me. I love the idea of the taster kit.
    Hapy New Year and thanks for linking up with #TriedTested this week.

    1. Happy new year to you also Collette. Funny ya’ know, I think us guys could have quite a valuable role in normalising discussions about periods. Why not, they’re just a part of life??

  28. Pingback: 5 reasons it’s tough being a dad blogger (and 5 reasons it’s great) – Slouching towards Thatcham

  29. As an idea, it sounds fantastic. You always assume there’s some in the cupboard and every so often there aren’t. Which is a PITA. Home delivery is prefect as some people find them an embarrassing thing to buy. And kudos to the company for realising that periods aren’t just “women’s problems” but something for everyone to be aware of and to know about.

    1. It totally is something we all need to know about. The book makes a bold statement that women / girls are embarrassed to talk about periods in front of men, essentially because of they frequently lack knowledge of the subject. Periods; they’re for everyone!

  30. Rather late finding this post but had to comment to say how wonderful it is that a) Sanitary Owl sent you this to review instead of ignoring you and b) that you’ve written about dads and periods in a way that shows it shouldn’t be a “big deal” but can often feel that way (if that makes sense?)

    I grew up with a dad who, whilst leaving most of this kind of stuff up to my mum, never hid from the topic. He had no choice… His wife suffered from Endometriosis and had a hysterectomy at 36 and his two daughters both had terrible periods from their early teens. Now at 32 I still talk to my dad about the way in which gynaecological health has deeply affected my life and he offers me “advice” on dealing with things. I can tell it’s not always a comfortable discussion for him, but it’s never anything we avoid.

    That being said, I still find that attitudes in society still affect the way I talk about periods. For me this goes beyond gender… Women can be just as uncomfortable talking about it as men, and sometimes I’ve found my male friends to be much more sympathetic of how sick I get with my cycle than my female friends who sometimes think I’m just making a fuss (I am reminded here of my second year at uni when I shared a house with 3 lads and they all quickly learned what the pale face, hot water bottle, and darkened room meant and jumped into action to help out by popping to the shop for chocolate, refilling my hot water bottle, and generally just checking in on me).

    I think, as a society, we often have perceptions about how men will react rather than actually giving them the chance to… We automatically assume it is a taboo and in doing so make that the reality. So once again I want to thank you for this awesome post that shows that men can and do want to join in these kinds of conversation!

    1. Thank you Amanda for your extraordinarily kind words. I thin you are right actually; sometimes what you need is a completely different perspective on a subject. Men can give a different one on issues such as menstruation. We do, after all, live with the effects of it even if we don’t actually mensturate ourselves. Glad you enjoyed the review, it was great fun to write.

  31. This is brilliant! I remember my Mum was away for the weekend when I first got my period and I had to tell my Dad, whose response was, “Well look in the cupboard, I’m sure Mum has some… things…” haha! I’m sure your daughters appreciate your efforts and openness.

    Jess xo

    1. Thanks Jess, perhaps I’m just a bit modern, but I don’t have an issue talking about such things!

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