It seems that last year I may have inadvertently indulged in a spot of menstrual activism.
"It's time to reclaim periods as a healthy, normal part of life", I wrote in Periods need an image overhaul.
Menstrual activism (also known as menstrual anarchy and radical menstruation) is a movement devoted to changing attitudes, challenging taboos and encouraging discussion about periods. At the time I was unaware such a cause even existed.
Traditionally we were supposed to be discreet about so-called "women's issues". But nowadays there's a growing sense that being frank about menstruation is a far healthier approach - which presumably explains the rise of such notions as menstrual comedy, tampon craft projects and photographs of women wearing their menstrual blood as lipstick.
With absolutely zero squeamishness towards discussing such matters, The Guardian has taken the lead when it comes to period friendly journalism. Why don't we celebrate the start of girls' periods?, asked one writer who suggested such an occasion should somehow be marked - perhaps with cake, balloons, flowers, a small gift or a dinner out.
I've always felt that if men had to endure menstruation they would be right into marking it in a suitably significant manner: "I'm certain that if men had periods they would be celebrated with festivals, loud music and crates of beer."
Still, there is always the option of going all out. Women can hold a "Red Tent Event: Menarche Rite of Passage Ceremony" and call on the services of a "Rite of Passage Celebrant" who specialises in "welcoming girls into womanhood after their first menstruation".
Closer to home (in Christchurch), "menstruality" workshops are offered. One, called "The Whole of the Moon: Illuminating Your Menstrual Cycle", is said to help women get back in touch with nature and the universe - which clearly could well be a step too far for many people, myself included.
For not every woman sees the need to officially acknowledge the arrival of periods. Many readers questioned the need for celebration including one who considered a first period signified "the onset of a nuisance, a small but significant decrease in your quality of life".
Nonetheless The Guardian continued the theme with The day I got my first period.
The stories and comments that followed contained some heart-warming details but also told of confusion, fear, girls who thought they were bleeding to death and mothers who chose this occasion to berate their daughters.
In the interests of menstrual activism and not being coy about such delicate matters, I can reveal how incredibly painful most of my periods were. At least once a year for 24 years I would be confined to my bed for an entire day - bent double and vomiting from the sheer pain of this supposedly normal event. Since I had my daughter at the age of 38 my periods became virtually pain-free. And it was only in advanced labour that I recognised the intense pains as ones I'd been regularly experiencing since I was a teenager. In hindsight, I should have sought more effective pain relief but in those days my instinct was towards stoicism.
Given that periods can be so debilitating, one journalist bravely asked Should women get paid menstrual leave?
According to an online poll, the majority of respondents were against the idea. Comments revealed a catholic range of views: "I find it incredibly insulting for someone to ... suggest that I can't manage my job because I have a period";
"This would offer the most solid basis yet for arguing that women should not be paid as much as men"; "And men get 3 Manflu days a year too" - and "if men menstruated, it'd be a national holiday and everyone would get the week off."
My most memorable menstruation moment occurred when, aged 18, I was hosting maybe 10 or 12 fellow B Floor residents for drinks in my room at Weir House student hostel in Wellington. We were all females who had lived together for the past few months. Our chatter somehow turned to periods and we swiftly discovered we were all menstruating at the same time. Whether menstrual synchrony even exists seems to be hotly debated by experts but for one day in 1983 I can guarantee that it was alive and well in my little part of the world. It was kind of spooky but mostly it was very cool.
Should periods be celebrated or at least discussed more openly? Or are they private 'woman's issues' that should remain hushed?