MenstruHeat co-founder on speaking openly about period-related issues

MenstruHeat co-founder on speaking openly about period-related issues
PHOTO: MenstruHeat.

Suffer from menstrual cramps? A hot water bottle is known to significantly reduce the discomfort: When heat is applied to the skin, it stimulates sensory receptors to block pain signals. But it isn’t always convenient to be walking around with a bottle pressed to the abdomen and that’s where you’ll find MenstruHeat menstrual cramp heat pads handy.

Manufactured by Blood, a local company that creates “game-changing period care”, the adhesive pads provide relief in the same way but are a lot more discreet. Blood also offers an assortment of feminine hygiene products and recently launched a Period-Positive Workplaces initiative to encourage companies to recognise period challenges women face at work.

Co-founder Tan Peck Ying tells us why she decided to delve into period care, the biggest challenges she faced in her entrepreneurial journey thus far, and why it’s important that women to speak openly about period-related issues in this day and age.

The company was started to promote "natural, yet effective solutions to menstrual pains"


Blood was founded in 2014 and the flagship product MenstruHeat was launched in 2015.

“I have been affected by menstrual pain since I was in tertiary school and used to have to skip classes during those periods. A background in life science made me more conscious about deliberately staying away from medication, and when I realised that many women were also seeking a natural means to ease their pains, I knew that there was potential to serve millions of women out there,” explains the 34-year-old.

Her key responsibility at the company is in enabling the company’s growth. She oversees the production and supply chain and is the bridge between the marketing, sales and operations departments to ensure that they achieve the common goal.

“I think understanding our ‘why’ is very important. When things are not looking up (which is very often in a start-up journey!), it gives us the motivation and strength to push on.”

One of their biggest challenges was entering the retail space

“Looking back, we naively approached one of the largest chain retailers to get our products listed right when we first started. I remember that we were flatly rejected within five minutes meeting—they even thought it was a school project! But we heeded their suggestions and went back a few months later with our results, and were given a chance to be listed on shelves.

Another big challenge we’ve had was expanding into Indonesia amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. However, it helped us to become familiar with remote working and forced us to navigate tasks traditionally completed in-person, so even though we would have loved to be physically present while setting up the team over there, we learnt to adopt an all-online approach to understanding the local culture. We now have a team of nine in Indonesia that supports our product growth in over 3000 retail stores across the country.”

Period-Positive Workplaces wants to facilitate a more supportive work culture

Blood recently surveyed 1,000 working women in Singapore and found that three in four women feel that their period discomfort impact their performance at work. More importantly, one in two of those who take an MC to deal with period pain have lied to their bosses about the actual reason why: Most women are either uncomfortable talking about their periods with their superiors or do not think that menstrual cramps are a valid enough reason.

“In fact, one in three Singaporeans feel that there is not enough empathy from colleagues in the workplace when it comes to period pain. This highlights that period stigma is still an issue in our workplaces and it’s neither healthy for employees nor productive for businesses,” says Peck Ying.

She adds that 71 per cent of those who took an MC felt that they’d be less likely to do so if they had more flexibility with working hours or where they worked, suggesting that with the right policies in place, companies can not only provide a more supportive work culture, but also minimise the loss of productivity.

To change attitudes, we need to speak openly about period-related issues

“When someone speaks openly about period-related issues, it can create a powerful ripple effect: Their co-workers are not only more aware of their challenges, but also realise it is OK to share about these things openly. A shift in attitudes towards period talk at work can lead to a more supportive environment where women can openly navigate their period challenges and be helped to do their best work even when on their periods.”

Her alternative trick for a natural means of relieving menstrual cramps? A massage

You can do this by gently applying pressure about two-finger-width below your belly button. Inhaling and exhaling deeply during this self-massage will also help reduce the tension in the abdomen and circulate the oxygen around the cramping muscles for relief.

This article was first published in Her World Online.

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